It is important to eat three meals every day and try to eat at regular times. Space your meals no more than 6 hours apart and have a snack only if necessary.
What to eat?
A healthy-eating plan emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of healthy fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil), less refined carbohydrates (like white bread) and no sugary drinks.
Choose more often
- Healthy carbohydrates: legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products
- Fibre-rich foods: legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, vegetables, fruits and nuts
- Heart-healthy fish: cod, tuna, halibut, salmon, mackerel and herring - avoid having the same fish too many times in a week, because some fish may contain a higher percentage of mercury
- “Good” fats: avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives, and canola, olive and peanut oils
Choose less often
- Fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury: tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel
- Saturated fats: beef, hot dogs, sausage and bacon
- Trans fats: processed snacks, baked goods, shortening and stick margarines
- Cholesterol: high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, liver and other organ meats
- Sodium (salt)
A Handy Portion Guide
In order to lose weight or not gain any, you must be able to evaluate the size of your plate portions. Here are two simple methods proposed by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The Plate Method
The Hand Method
|Fruits/Grains and Starches An amount the size of your fist represents one portion of fruit or Grains and Starches choice.|
|Vegetables Eat as much as you can hold in both hands.|
|Meat & Alternatives Choose an amount no bigger than the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of your little finger.|
|Fats Limit fat to an amount the size of the tip of your thumb.|
|Milk & Alternatives You can drink up to 250 ml (8 oz) of low-fat milk or 175 g of lower fat yogurt with a meal.|
Can Sugar be Part of My Meal Plan
Once your blood glucose is under control, you can include some sugar in your meal plan. However, to achieve this you must measure your blood glucose levels with a meter, such as the discreet BGStar or the iBGStar that connects to your iPhone 3 and 4 or iPod Touch 3 and 4.
It’s all about balance. If you eat your sweets with a meal and balance them with other foods in your meal plan, they shouldn’t cause large changes in your blood glucose control. Sweets count as carbohydrates in your daily meal plan, so if you want to eat some, you need to trade small portions for other carbohydrates in your meals. For example, instead of having a medium potato (2 carb choices) with your main meal, have half a medium potato (1 carb choice) and 7 large pretzels (1 carb choice), or half a medium potato (1 carb choice) and a two-inch square unfrosted brownie (1 carb choice). To learn how to make equivalent carb "trades," pay special attention to total carbohydrates listed on a food’s Nutrition Facts label. Avoid eating sweets as snacks because you will run the risk of raising your blood glucose levels.
And moderation! Sweets are a treat and should be eaten in moderation. They are "empty calories" because they have few vitamins and minerals and are often high in fat and calories. If you want to eat a sweet, find one that has 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving (1 carb choice). It will be easier to substitute it into your meal plan.
Sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners can offer the sweetness of sugar without the carbohydrates. They can be used for sweetening coffee, tea, cereal or baked goods. Remember that baked goods contain flour, a carbohydrate source that needs to be counted in your meal plan.The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) website has a link to safe sweeteners and recommended amounts.
Your taste buds may start to redefine "sweet." Once you start a healthy-eating lifestyle, your taste buds might change. What used to be your favourite "sweet treat" may one day seem too sweet to you! Your taste buds keep changing, so you might find yourself losing the desire for sweetness.
Eating Out with Diabetes
Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a good meal at a restaurant. With some careful planning, eating out can also fit into your healthy lifestyle.
Read the menu ahead of time
Many restaurants post their menus on their websites. Read through the menu to see what might work for your meal planning.
Have a small snack before
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a restaurant feeling famished. Have a small snack before, like 10 nuts or some yogurt to curb your appetite.
Send back the bread basket
Save your carbohydrate choices for your main dish.
Start with soup or salad.
Beginning the meal with a clear soup, a salad with dressing on the side, or grilled veggies with hummus will fill you up a little, preventing over-eating when it comes to the main course.
Ask for it on the side.
If you’re ordering a salad or a meat dish that comes with a sauce, order the dressing or sauce on the side. That way you can add the amount that’s right for you.
Choose baked, broiled, poached or steamed.
Typically, foods that are cooked in this way are lower in fat. Avoid any food which is deep-fried or breaded.
Share your meal or ask for half to go.
Especially in restaurants that have large portion sizes, ask your server to bring you half of your main course and ask for the other half in a doggie bag, this will keep you from overeating. As an extra precaution, ask your server to keep the other half in the kitchen until you’re ready to leave.
Buffets are a challenge.
Studies show eating at buffets results in eating three times the amount of food. Be careful… fill your plate with many vegetables.
The Canadian Diabetes Association Guidelines state that you should get permission from your doctor before you drink. If you do get permission, women can have 1 standard drink per day, men can have 2 standard drinks per day, and if taking insulin, food must be eaten with alcohol. Standard drinks would include: 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of hard alcohol or 3 oz. of sherry or port. Take alcohol with food. The CDA has also created this excellent tool on alcohol and diabetes .
Share a dessert
Order one dessert and share it.
To find out more about nutrition, diabetes and to get personalized advice, visit the STARsystem website.