Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite foods and eat a complicated, unappetizing diet. You just need to make smart food choices and eat in moderation. The foods that are healthy for people with diabetes are also good choices for the rest of the family.
Healthy eating means eating moderate portions of a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry and fish. However, a person with diabetes needs to be consistent with his or her carbohydrate intake, portion sizes and time when meals and snacks are eaten. That means meals should not be delayed or skipped. To help manage your blood glucose levels, make sure your food intake is balanced with your antidiabetes medications as well as your level of physical activity or exercise.
Your doctor can help you come up with a customized diabetes meal plan. A diabetes meal plan is simply a healthy eating plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat and moderate in calories. It is a guide that tells you how much and what kinds of food you can choose to eat at meals and snack times. A good meal plan should fit in with your schedule and eating habits. Meal planning tools include the plate method, carbohydrate counting and glycemic index. The right meal plan will help you improve your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It can also help you manage your weight.
The plate method provides a simple way to make smart food choices and control your food portions. It involves dividing your plate into three sections. One half should be devoted to nonstarchy vegetables such as string beans (sitaw), bean sprouts (toge), broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, okra, radish (labanos) and squash. A quarter of your plate should be dedicated to starchy foods like rice, corn or potatoes. The remaining quarter can be a serving of lean meat. Don’t go for second servings. If you can’t do without dessert, opt for half a cup of yogurt or a piece of fruit.
Carbohydrate counting or “carb counting” indicates how many grams or choices of carbohydrates you can have at each meal or snack. About 15 grams of carb equals one choice. Carb counting can help you control your blood glucose levels more easily than if you ate random amounts of carbs throughout the day. It also helps you and your doctor adjust your insulin dose and carb intake within a meal.
Glycemic index (GI) is a method of ranking carbohydrate foods on a 0-100 scale that is based on how fast a particular food is converted by the body to glucose. The higher the food’s GI value, the greater its ability to raise blood glucose levels. Foods with lower GI value (55 below) consist of complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, legumes and nuts. Lower GI foods are slowly digested and absorbed by the body resulting in better blood glucose control.
Liraglutide is a noninsulin once-a-day injectable medication that helps lower blood sugar levels quickly in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is prescribed together with healthy eating and regular physical activity to help keep your blood sugar under control and to help you manage your type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may suggest using liraglutide alone or in combination with other oral antidiabetes medications.
Work with your doctor in customizing your diabetes meal plan and taking the right antidiabetes medications. Seek the support of your family in eating healthy and engaging in regular physical activity. With proper management and the right attitude, you can enjoy life to the fullest, despite diabetes.
CONTEST: People with diabetes should choose foods with low GI values. What does GI stand for? E-mail your answer to [email protected] and get the chance to win a prize. Congratulations to Lisa Asuncion! Your correct answer to the question in the June 8 column was chosen as this week’s winner in the Diabetes Trivia contest. You will receive an e-mail on how to claim your prize.
Dr. Cynthia H. Manabat is an endocrinologist. The “Changing Diabetes” column commemorates the 92nd anniversary of insulin’s discovery. It aims to increase awareness on diabetes prevention, diagnosis and management. Novo Nordisk supports “Changing Diabetes.” Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. For questions or comments, e-mail [email protected] or follow us at www.facebook.com/ChangingDiabetesPH.