Diabetes Management with Healthy Nutrition and Meal Planning

{SCA} Three things will have a major impact on your blood glucose and blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) levels

  • What you eat
  • How much you eat
  • When you eat

By selecting the right types of foods, as well as appropriate quantities you can significantly improve your ability to control your blood glucose and blood lipids.

What does healthy eating mean?

Healthy eating most certainly does not mean you will go hungry and have to spend much of your life desperately trying to resist temptation. You can still consume the food you like. All it means is that you will have to be much more aware of how much carbohydrate, fat and protein you consume each time you eat. You just have to get the balance right.


Carbohydrates are most abundantly found in fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, sweets, pasta and bread.

Our body needs carbohydrates; we cannot live without them. When consumed, our bodies turn the carbohydrate into blood glucose – glucose is needed by our cells for energy and growth.

If you consume the same amount of carbohydrates each time you eat – especially if those times are at the same time each day – you will be well on your way towards controlling your blood glucose.

It is important that you do not skip meals, no matter what your blood glucose readings indicate. All you will achieve by skipping meals is a more aggressive fluctuation in your blood glucose levels – something you want to try to avoid.

If your consumption of glucose can follow a regular pattern, it will be easier for you to balance food with your medicine(s) and physical activity with optimum blood glucose control.

Variety and moderation

A varied and moderated diet is ideal if you want to enjoy good health. Your carbohydrate intake should consist of a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables. They have plenty of fiber – fiber helps control blood glucose.

Remember that brown rice has more fiber than white rice; whole-grain breads have the most fiber. If you are cooking or baking, opt for whole-wheat or whole grain flours. Include pulses, such as beans; they are a great source of fiber. Dark green leafy vegetables and dark yellow ones have a slower release of carbohydrates than most other vegetables.

Carb, protein and fat mix

According to the Mayo Clinic, your daily intake of calories should consist of:

  • Carbohydrates 45% to 65%
  • Proteins 15% to 20%
  • Fats 20% to 35%

If you adhere to your meal plan for portion sizes and eating times you should eat the same mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats each day. Your blood sugar control will be ideal, as will your weight. The more you vary from your food plan, the Mayo Clinic informs, the more your blood glucose will fluctuate.

The rewards will be worth it

The ideal eating pattern for a person with diabetes is not really any different from what a non-diabetic person would do if he/she aimed for optimum health and fitness. However, the diabetes patient has the added incentive of trying to prevent complications from developing, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney problems, vision problems and leg and feet sores.

Foods on offer for a diabetes patient are extensive and varied. You will be able to plan a wide range of tasty and interesting meals.

The food pyramid

When you talk to your health care professional, diabetes educator or dietician, they will probably mention the Food Pyramid.

At the base there are foods rich in carbohydrates, such as grains, then there are fruit and vegetables.

Above are meat, fish, milk and cheese; which are rich in protein. At the top are the fatty foods.

Almost all diabetes and medical associations say that you should eat more from the groups at the bottom of the pyramid, and less from those at the top.

It is vital that you talk to an expert about your eating plan. It needs to be tailored according to your weight, age, which medications you are taking and how physically active you are (and, if so, when during the day you are likely to be the most active).

Glycemic index

Not all carbohydrates are the same. The Glycemic Index (GI) describes what effect certain foods can have on our blood glucose levels. A high GI tends to cause more blood glucose fluctuations than a low one. Ask your dietician.