These are things you can and should do to help your body resist the effects of diabetes, and slow its progression. Diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning it tends to get worse as you get older, not better. But you can help your body to respond to the diabetes, through medication, insulin (if needed), and a healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Even if you have not been diagnosed as a diabetic, the following suggestions will be helpful, and may delay the onset of diabetes if you have a tendency to develop it.
When we say “diet” we simply mean your “food plan”. We maintain everyone is “on a diet”, it’s simply what, how much, and how often you eat. Some people have a diet that follows an “I’ll eat whatever I want, whenever I want it” food plan. Of course this can be disasterous and may be partly responsible for the fact that you are a diabetic, though other factors are also at work (heredity being an important one). So your diebetic diet should be one that will help you control your blood sugar and lead to weight loss if needed.
The simplest way to determine what your diet should be is called the “Plate” method. You divide your plate into fourths. One fourth should be protein (preferable chicken or meat), one fourth should be starchy vegetables (corn, peas, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, zucchini and yams (which convert to sugar) or grains (beans,breads, pastas, rice, and oats) and two fourths, or half should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes).
This is important because carbohydrates are the greatest villain for diabetics because these are converted to sugar by the body. There are simple carbohydrates (most fruit, fruit juices and of course sugar itself). Then there complex carbohydates that are necessary but do need to be controlled (bread, rice, oats, and wheat products). Counting carbohydrates is more complicated and does require effort and energy and time. You will decide if you are worth it!
On method of counting carbohydrates is to detemine how many grams of carbohydrates you should have in a meal. Diabetics would benefit from having a dietician or nutritionist help with their food plan and carbohydrate counting. Meantime, a general guideline is to plan 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Determining the carbohydrates in what you eat is where the work comes in. For example, 30g (we’ll use g to denote grams) of carbs (meaning carbohydrate) are found in one sandwich with two pieces of bread (15 grams per slice), one cup of black beans, or one cup of oatmeal.
The best thing to do is to detemine how many grams of carbohydrates are in the foods you eat, and adjust accordingly. At first this is time consuming and tedious, but eventually (after a few weeks) you will just know what is OK. Meantime, you need to be checking your glucose levels to monitor your progress. Having someone to assist with this is always helpful and often necessary.
Some people prefer to just “count carbohydrates” by having a list of foods considered “one carbohydrate” and eat so many of those per meal or per day. For example, these are considered “one carbohydrate”: 1 slice bread, 1/3 cup of cooked pasta or rice, 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal.
This just an introduction to the process of determining what diet you need as a diabetic. What you do will detemine your control of your diebetes and you overall health.