When you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes you will receive essential advice about your meal plan. The goal is to maintain blood glucose control while maintaining your nutritional needs, sometimes known as medical nutrition therapy. Other goals will include to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, adequate blood pressure control and weight loss.
The meal plan is individualised, but generally consists of regular meals and snacks with consistent carbohydrates especially if using insulin; reduced portion sizes for weight loss; reduction of saturated and trans fats, processed foods; reduction of sodium (salt) intake, while increasing vegetables and high fibre whole grain cereals and bread, and legumes, if specific food sensitivity is absent.
One highly recommended meal plan type is the Mediterranean diet which is a meal plan originating from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (Greece, southern Italy and Spain). Healthy eating, moderate exercise, self monitoring of BG and a positive outlook will help to decrease your diabetes risk, decrease your need for medications and reduce your risk of complications.
1. Eat breakfast. This is especially important when taking medications for treatment of diabetes.
Breakfast ideas: Oatmeal, whole grain cold cereal, whole grain toast with low-fat milk/ yoghurt, peanut butter on toast, smoothie (fresh fruit of choice); French toast with whole grain, egg white with cinnamon.
2. Three meals per day.
3. At least four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit per day. Steam/lightly cook vegetables. Add fruit to your cereals/yogurt.
Non starchy vegetables: Onion, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, spinach, carrot, lettuce, cabbage, okra, turnip, peppers, mushrooms.
Starchy Foods: Whole grain bread, high fibre cereal, oatmeal, crème of wheat, brown rice, potatoes, pasta, cooked peas & beans, low-fat crackers.
Meat/ Protein: chicken/turkey without skin, fish (salmon, tuna) & seafood.
Lean cut: beef, pork and low-fat cheese.
Add a piece of fruit and 8oz Low fat milk or 6oz yoghurt.
Snack on vegetables at anytime and incorporate into every meal. Eat fruits in moderation.
4. Eat whole grains: Whole grains contain more vitamins/minerals than refined foods, increase bulk, increase satiety and keep blood sugar levels more stable. 20-35g of fibre recommended daily.
5. Healthy Fats: Olive oil, vegetable oil (canola), Avocado, nuts, nut butters, sunflower seed.
Fats are high in calories; consume healthy fats consumed sparingly for adequate weight management. Trim fat from meats.
Avoid saturated fat and trans-fat: these are found in meats, whole fat dairy (butter and cheese), margarine, lard, cocoa, butter, egg yolk, coconut and vegetable shortening (often found in baked goods).
Choose fat-free dressings, oil vinegar dressings.
6. Combine your healthy meal plan with 30 minutes of exercise every day. 10 minutes x 3 of brisk walking can produce the same benefits as a 30 minute session.
Take the stairs, walk to your car, watch TV or read while on a treadmill or exercise bicycle. Get started, start slowly and persist.
7. Avoid foods with corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup or molasses as first few ingredients. Avoid alcohol if your blood sugar is not under control. Avoid Low calorie artificial sweeteners. Finally, also avoid eating at restaurants.
Update October 2014
Up to date research has shown that two large meals per day – breakfast and lunch – can help with weight loss and blood glucose control. This meal plan was compared to six smaller meals per day with similar caloric content (calories).
The study included persons with type two diabetes of varying weights and blood glucose control. There were only 54 participants in the study and none of them used insulin therapy.
This study reinforces previous advice of having a large breakfast everyday and light meals in the evening. However advice may vary if you have certain stomach disorders or complications of diabetes so please ask your diabetes physician before changing your meal plan.