Diabetes is often described as a metabolic disorder. This is because it is concerned with processing the foods that we eat (or in the case of diabetes being unable to process the foods). As glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the food we consume, the hormone insulin is secreted to facilitate the conversion of glucose to energy for the body’s cells. In doing this the glucose level in the blood reduces. This does not occur in diabetics because the disease affects the functioning of insulin.
High levels of glucose in the blood aren’t good for the health and mean that the body cannot get the energy it needs. The disease has three distinct types – type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body thinks the beta cells that create insulin are harmful and destroys them. Type 2 is a result of insulin resistance in the body’s cells so that the body does not respond to insulin normally. Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2, except it occurs in pregnancy and normally stops after pregnancy. There are various ways to treat the different types of diabetes but universal to all is the use of a proper diet to control the disease. This article will describe the general guidelines for a diabetic diet plan.
Upon being diagnosed with diabetes, you should consult a dietitian who will cover what type of food to eat and quantities to consume based on your individual characteristics, like age, size and sex. Once you understand this information a diabetic diet plan is fairly easy to formulate.
The most important component of a diabetic diet is the carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates account for most of the glucose that gets into the bloodstream. You should aim to get 45 – 65 % of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are the best type to eat because they release sugar consistently over a longer period of time. Keeping blood sugar levels constant avoids mood swings and is better for the body.
Eat vegetables and fruits. Try to get around 3 – 5 servings of vegetables per day and 2-4 of fruit. These types of foods provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are an important part of a well balanced diet for anyone regardless of being diabetic or otherwise. Fruits can contain some carbohydrates so be careful to balance this out with your overall carbohydrate intake.
Proteins should be consumed by everyone as they are necessary for the body to build, repair and main component of cells as cell proteins. Typical foods like chicken, fish, cheese and tofu are good examples of protein that can be eaten. They should form 15% of total calories per day in 2-3 servings.
Dairy products like milk and yogurt are also a part of a normal diet. They provide calcium and vitamins like A and D. 2-3 serving per day are recommended.
Fats and oils should be avoided or consumed the least. They should be around 5% of the total diet. These foods include things like butter, potato chips, candy and sweet treats. No more than 20 – 30% of total calories should be from fats.