Diabetic Diet

Eating well with diabetes

Diabetes is a disease characterized by the body's inability either to produce insulin or to properly use insulin, which in turn affects its ability to process sugar and starches. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, the disease's treatment is generally through diet and proper care, as well as through insulin injections in cases where the hormone is not produced (Type 1 diabetes).

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Diabetic Diet Plan

Most people know that diabetics have to monitor their sugar intake in order to keep their blood glucose levels in the acceptable range of the Glycemic Index. What many don't know, however, is that counting carbohydrates, or "carbs," is also important. Because the body converts carbohydrates to sugar, foods that contain carbohydrates raise blood glucose, making them dangerous to diabetics.

Another important realization is that carbohydrates are a natural component of many healthy foods, including fruit, milk, yogurt and certain vegetables like corn and potatoes. It is also prevalent in dried beans and soy products, so even vegetarians will need a special diabetic vegetarian diet.

The best way to plan a diabetic diet menu is to read nutrition labels carefully, paying special attention to serving size and total grams of carbohydrate per serving. Be mindful of other health concerns, as well — look for products that are low in saturated and trans fats and have fewer calories per serving. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to your overall health, and obesity is a known factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic Weight Control

People with Type 2 diabetes (in which the body does not properly use insulin and for which obesity is a major risk factor) are often tasked with the double challenge of losing weight while controlling their blood sugar levels. Thus, they must count not only carbs but also calories.

Most people achieve healthy, reasonable weight loss on an 1800 calorie diabetic diet. Many sample eating plans for such a diet are available online. For those who need greater or more rapid weight loss, 1500 calorie and even 1200 calorie options can also be found. Just make sure that your diet plan is well balanced, with calories coming from a mixture of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

It is a good idea to discuss your eating plan with your doctor, especially if your goals include weight loss, and even more especially if you are drastically reducing your calorie count. Proper diet is a key tool for controlling diabetes, and your doctor will best be able to determine which foods you should and should not consume, as well as at what time of day you should eat to keep your blood glucose levels steady.