What Is The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables. This refers to the true Mediterranean pattern traditionally followed in the south of Italy and Greece, not “Americanized Italian,” which is heavy in pasta and bread. The Mediterranean pattern includes:
- Lots of fresh vegetables
- Some wine
- Occasional meat and dairy
This pattern of eating is very nutrient-dense, meaning you get many vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients for every calorie consumed. A very large recent study demonstrated that two versions of the Mediterranean diet improved diabetes control including better blood sugar and more weight loss. The two versions of the Mediterranean diet that were studied emphasized either more nuts or more olive oil. Since both were beneficial, a common-sense approach to adopting the Mediterranean diet would include both of these. For example, sprinkle chopped almonds on green beans or drizzle zucchini with olive oil, oregano, and hemp seeds.
Eat At Regularly Set Times
Your body is better able to regulate blood sugar levelsand your weightwhen you maintain a regular meal schedule. Aim for moderate and consistent portion sizes for each meal.
Start your day off with a good breakfast. It will provide energy as well as steady blood sugar levels.
Eat regular small mealsup to 6 per day. Eating regularly will help you keep your portions in check.
Keep calorie intake the same. To regulate blood sugar levels, try to eat roughly the same amount every day, rather than overeating one day or at one meal, and then skimping the next.
Try These Recipes And Tips For Blood Sugar Control
Eating a balanced breakfast is important, especially if you have diabetes. But figuring out exactly what to eat can be tricky. Having a plan can help you save time and avoid choosing foods that might cause your blood sugar to spike.
This article discusses why breakfast is important and how to build a healthy meal when you have diabetes.
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Sample Diabetic Diet Menu
So what is the best thing to eat for breakfast for a diabetic? And what does a healthy, well-rounded diabetic diet actually look like? Heres a sample one day meal plan, plus some easy diabetic diet recipes that you can start experimenting with at home:
- Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with Quinoa Pilaf and side salad
Five Take Home Messages
- Carbohydrates, whether sugary or starchy, raise your blood sugar more than any other foods.
- Your diet should be high in fibre with plenty of fruit and vegetables, low in fat , low in sugar and low in salt.
- Be mindful of the portion size of foods you eat – portions which are too large can contribute to weight gain and lead to poorer management of blood glucose levels.
- If you’re overweight, aim for 5-10% weight loss – using a method you are likely to stick to.
- ‘Diabetic foods’ offer no additional benefit above ‘normal’ foods and so are not advised.
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Why Diet Is Important For Diabetics
What you eat has a direct impact on your glucose levels, making diet an incredibly important part of managingor even preventingdiabetes. A healthy diet, which includes what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat, can keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
In fact, studies show that while insulin or oral medications are often required to treat diabetes, good blood glucose level control is unlikely to occur with medicine alone and requires a healthy dietOlabiyi F, Oguntibeju O. The Role of Nutrition in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Mellitus Insights and Perspectives. 2013. .
While there are no forbidden foods, certain foods that are high in sugar can clearly raise your blood sugar levels and should be limited, says Ruth S. Horowitz, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Maryland.
Limiting the quantity of foods that have high glycemic content that raise glucose levels quickly, such as pasta, white rice, white potatoes, corn and large amounts of breads, will help keep glucose levels in control, says Dr. Horowitz.
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Red And Processed Meats
At first glance, it may seem like the dietary effects on diabetes would be only relevant to carbohydrate-containing foods. The more low-carbohydrate, high-protein foods in your diet, the better those foods dont directly raise blood glucose.
However, that is a too simplistic view of the development of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is not only driven by elevated glucose levels, but also by chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and alterations in circulating lipids .
Many diabetics have come to believe that if sugar and refined grains and other high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar and triglycerides, they should avoid them and eat more animal protein to keep their blood glucose levels in check.
However, several studies have now confirmed that high intake of meat increases the risk of diabetes.
A meta-analysis of 12 studies concluded that high total meat intake increased type 2 diabetes risk 17% above low intake, high red meat intake increased risk 21%, and high processed meat intake increased risk 41%.
What Is Carb Counting
Carbohydrates are the sugar, starches, and fibers found in many foods, such as grains, fruits, and dairy products. Your body turns carbs into the sugar it uses for energy. This means carbs affect your blood sugar level more than other kinds of foods.
Carb counting is a way to plan your meals. It keeps you aware of the amount of carbs youâre eating. That information can help you control what youâre eating and keep it within a healthy range for people with type 2 diabetes. This helps you manage your blood sugar levels. Doctors often suggest carb counting for people with diabetes who take insulin. It lets you match your insulin dose to the amount of carbs youâre getting.
Carbs are measured in grams. To count your carbs, find out how many carbs are in the foods you eat. Add up the grams to figure out your total for each meal and snack. In general, you should get 45 to 60 grams of carbs with each meal and 15 to 20 grams for each snack.
But remember, not all carbs are created equal. Fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat milk are the best sources of carbs. Your dietitian or diabetes educator can make a specific plan for you.
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Sugar Intake And Diabetes
People with diabetes who follow a healthy eating pattern can include a small amount of sugar in their diet. However, the sugar should be eaten as part of a nutritious meal. For example, one teaspoon of honey with plain porridge, tinned fruit in natural juice and some types of high fibre breakfast cereals with dried fruit, such as natural muesli.
Healthy Eating And Diabetes
If you have diabetes, healthy eating can help you to:
- maintain general good health
- maintain a healthy body weight
- prevent or slow the development of diabetes complications.
Healthy eating for people with diabetes is no different than for everyone else. You do not need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods, so relax and enjoy healthy eating with the rest of your family.
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Best Foods For Diabetes:
As you think about a diabetes diet, Arthurs encourages you to first look at how you normally eat. Are some of your meals mainly carbohydrate-rich foods and little else? Have you aimed for a balance of different types of food at meals for example, non-starchy vegetables, a whole grain, lean protein and a small amount of heart-healthy fat?
Controlled trials show that eating more healthy fats, in particular polyunsaturated fats from plants and plant oils , leads to better blood sugar control and improved insulin sensitivity, says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts Friedman School. Also consider probiotic-rich foods like yogurt. Emerging science suggests these may also support blood sugar control, perhaps through maintaining a healthy gut microbiota , but more research is needed. Of course, remember that if you increase one component in your eating plan, decrease another so your total caloric intake doesnt exceed your needs.
Dont overlook beverages in your assessment. Are you drinking empty-calorie, sugary carbs, such as soda? The ADA advises avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks to help with weight control and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease . Even drinking 100% fruit juice can make it more challenging to control blood sugar and fatty liver risk. A better choice is whole fruit, which comes in natures own portion-controlled packages and with fiber to slow digestion.
What Makes A Diet Good For Diabetics
Dr. Horowitz applauds the diets featured in this ranking for their inclusion of complex carbohydrates , lean proteins, healthy fats and dietary fiber, as well as their restriction of sweetened drinks and simple carbohydrates.
When it comes to keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy rangea key to successful diabetes managementDr. Horowitz recommends higher fiber foods because theyre slower to digest and take longer to affect glucose levels while also improving satiety.
The key to keeping glucose levels from rising is balance, she says. Having more of the meal composed of complex carbsand also eating a consistent amount of carbohydrates from meal to meal and avoiding meals that have too much at any one time including lean protein in the meal will help with satiety and prevent overeating.
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When Should I Eat If I Have Diabetes
Some people with diabetes need to eat at about the same time each day. Others can be more flexible with the timing of their meals. Depending on your diabetes medicines or type of insulin, you may need to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time each day. If you take mealtime insulin, your eating schedule can be more flexible.
If you use certain diabetes medicines or insulin and you skip or delay a meal, your blood glucose level can drop too low. Ask your health care team when you should eat and whether you should eat before and after physical activity.
Keep Carbs Low And Consistent Across Meals
With diabetes, its not just how many carbs you consume per day that matters your carb intake at each meal is important because it can affect your blood sugar for several hours. It may be best to aim for roughly the same amount of net carbs at each meal instead of eating most of your carbs at one sitting.31
Remember that testing your blood sugar will confirm whether your blood sugar remains within the normal, healthy range.
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Organic Tofu & Tempeh
Although vegetarians might have a tougher time getting protein in their diet, Anziani recommends organic tofu. Tofus absorbs the flavor of whatever it is cooked with, making it extremely versatile. Another high-protein option is tempeh, a fermented soy protein that can replace animal protein. However, those with a thyroid condition should only consume tofu or tempeh two to three times a week.
Expert Sources For A Successful Diabetic Diet Plan
Managing diabetes in the elderly can be complex, but having the right resources helps.
Use trusted web resources. The ADA diet guide offers in-depth nutrition resources, including recipes and meal planning tips. The CDCs diabetes public health resource site has healthy eating tips, diabetic grocery lists, and a guide to eating out.
Explore nutritional counseling. Most health insurance companies, as well as Medicare, cover the cost of in-person or virtual diabetic diet counseling, if prescribed by a doctor. In fact, Medicare estimates that nearly 15 million seniors are eligible for nutritional counseling benefits but arent using them.
Discover food service options. Planning meals and prepping food on your own can be a challenge at any stage of life. By taking into account your diet restrictions, budget, and ability to cook, grocery and meal kit delivery services offer a quick and easy solution.
Consider senior living. If your loved one is having a hard time preparing healthy meals or if you, as a caregiver, are struggling to meet his or her nutritional needs, it may be time to think about senior living options.
Proper senior nutrition is a vital part of healthy aging. Not only do most assisted living communities offer chef-prepared, restaurant-style dining, but they often have professional dietitians on staff.
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Common Foods Impact On Blood Sugar Compared To Table Sugar
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that healthcare professionals should “Encourage high-fibre, low-glycaemic-index sources of carbohydrate in the diet, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and pulses.”
Where you do include carbohydrates in your diet, always opt for wholemeal or wholegrain ‘complex’ carbohydrates. These are absorbed more slowly into your system than refined carbs and do not tend to cause the same spikes in your blood sugar. In addition, they provide dietary fibre, which is important for gut health.
The Diabetic Diet Plan
Following a diabetic diet plan to lose weight and manage your blood sugar levels doesnt have to be difficult. In fact, incorporating a few diabetic diet foods into your routine while cutting out sugary snacks and sodas can help enhance insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Foods to Eat
One of the best ways to manage blood sugar levels effectively is to fill your diet with nutrient-rich whole foods. So what foods can diabetics eat freely? Here are a few of the top choices on the diabetic food list:
- Non-starchy vegetables: leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, Brussels sprouts, etc.
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, MCT oil, grass-fed butter
- Beverages: water, unsweetened coffee and tea
There are also several foods that you can enjoy in moderation, provided they fit within your daily carb allotment. Here are a few examples of foods to consume in limited quantities:
- Nuts: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, etc.
- Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
- Fruits: apples, berries, oranges, bananas, pears, etc.
- Dairy products: unsweetened yogurt, feta cheese, cottage cheese, goats milk, etc.
Foods to Avoid
Just as important as loading your plate up with healthy whole foods is limiting foods that can spike your blood sugar levels. Here are some foods on the diabetic and prediabetic food list that you should avoid:
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What Should Type 2 Diabetics Eat
For people with type 2 diabetes, figuring out a healthy diet and food choices can be an uphill battle. In addition to having to adjust lifelong eating habits, theres a great deal of conflicting information about what you can eat, what you should eat, and what you might want to eat.
Well try to offer a bit of a simplification. For most people with type 2 diabetes, the number one goal is to reverse insulin resistance, as this is the most surefire way to reverse type 2 diabetes and ensure that your pancreas is healthy in the long term.
Add in a secondary goal of maintaining healthy blood glucose along the way, and the evidence points very clearly to one type of diet: a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet high in whole carbohydrates.
In this article, well explain our research-backed approach for diabetes management , which works well for type 1 diabetes management, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, along with some of the principles behind how it works.
Then, well touch on how this diet compares to the alternatives, and touch on a recommended meal plan and some tips for healthy eating.
Beginners Tips For Better Senior Nutrition
Many seniors have enjoyed the same favorite foods for decades, and its hard to break lifelong eating habits.
My number one tip is to start small, says Sara Casey, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition for dining services at Brookdale Senior Living. Attempting to overhaul eating habits overnight will likely not be sustainable long term.
Casey suggests easing into healthy eating habits for senior nutrition with these tips:
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A Cautionary Word About Salt
Some people are sensitive to salt, which causes higher blood pressure when too much sodium is consumed. Since we have no way of testing who is salt-sensitive and who isnt, the best precaution is to limit salt and avoid sodium-containing foods if you may be at risk for high blood pressure.
Simply put, the excess salt in most peoples diets comes from processed foods, so check the package for sodium content. By adopting a diabetes diet that contains mostly whole foods, this issue will no longer present a problem. Also, foods that are flash frozen are as good as fresh.
Canned vegetables usually have added salt as a preservative. Your best bet when buying is to check the food labels for sodium content. Youll want to stay well below the upper recommended limit of 2,000 mg/day, and you can certainly look for low-sodium varieties of canned, and processed, prepackaged food products.