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Diet for Type Two Diabetes

written by: Sarah Mitchell • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/14/2011

Closely following a type two diabetes diet can make a difference in a diabetic's blood sugar levels. Implementing a healthy eating plan is a lifestyle change that will aid against potential diabetes complications. Carbohydrate counting is essential, as well as eating at certain times of the day.

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    Type Two Diabetes Diet: Healthy Eating Plan

    Without a healthy eating plan, glucose levels can increase (hyperglycemia) or drop (hypoglycemia) in individuals, creating a dangerous health situation that requires prompt medical attention. Additionally, uncontrolled blood sugars can eventually lead to diabetes complications, including diabetic coma, kidney disease and diabetic neuropathy.

    Diet for Diabetics: Menu Planning

    Seeking the aid and knowledge of a registered dietitian (RD) is an invaluable resource. He or she will be able to tailor a healthy eating plan specific to one’s current weight and health status. A diabetes diet generally consists of consuming six meals per day, at approximately 2-4 hour intervals, to assist with controlling blood sugar levels throughout the day. Implementing such a diet for those with type 2 diabetes is a necessary lifestyle change.

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    What are Carbohydrates?

    Simple and complex carbohydrates (carbs) are found in virtually every type of food, from fruit to bread. Considered to be a healthier choice, complex carbs are digested gradually and can be found in whole grains, proteins (nuts and beans) and vegetables. Refined sugars and fruits contain simple carbs.

    Carbs affect blood sugar levels since they are transformed into sugar (glucose) during the course of digestion; later, this sugar is converted into energy. People need carbs for energy and type 2 diabetics are no exception; however, they only need a certain amount for energy and glucose maintenance. Diabetics utilizing a RD in their meal planning have an advantage over others who do not. RDs will allot a certain amount of carbs for each of their patient’s six meals, without leaving individuals to “guess”.

    Keeping in mind that one carb serving size is approximately 15 carb grams, the following is a sample food plan designed by an RD:

    Breakfast:

    30 - 45 total carb grams allotted

    Morning snack:

    7 ½ - 15 total carb grams allotted

    Lunch:

    30 - 45 total carb grams allotted

    Afternoon snack:

    15 - 22 ½ total carb grams allotted

    Dinner:

    45 - 60 total carb grams allotted

    Evening snack:

    15 - 22 ½ total carb grams allotted

    Figuring out how many total carb grams there are within a food item is relatively easy these days with the easy-to-read nutrition facts label. Persons may look under “total carbohydrates” to determine the actual amount of carb grams per serving. Items without a nutrition facts label – fruits and vegetables – may be estimated with predetermined carb to food serving sizes.

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    Diabetic Meal Plan

    Feeling hungry and craving carbohydrate-type foods are a common complaint. Consuming foods with high nutritional value are recommended, while limiting empty calories that can leave one unsatisfied.

    Foods to Eat

    • Lean meats – chicken breast and fish
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables
    • Low in salt, and saturated and trans fats
    • 100% whole grains and fiber
      • Breads, tortillas and bagels
      • Rice and pasta
      • Cereal
      • Dried beans

    Foods to Avoid

    • Processed foods
    • Enriched white breads
    • High in salt, and saturated and trans fats
    • Soda and sugary drinks
    • Limiting high calorie and sugar-containing foods

    Portion Control

    Controlling portions are a crucial part of a healthy eating plan and are considerably smaller than what most think. For example, the typical serving size of pasta is ½ cup, which is the size of an ice cream scoop. Lean meats are generally around a serving size of 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.

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    Conclusion

    A combination of healthy foods, and appropriate portion sizes, distributed throughout the day will aid in regulating blood glucose levels, as well as implementing an exercise plan and diabetes medication(s), as directed by a doctor.

    Disclaimer: The preceding article is for educational purposes only and should not replace the advice of a registered dietitian or licensed physician.

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    References

    National Diabetes Education Program. “Your GAME PLAN to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Information for Patients”, http://www.ndep.nih.gov/publications/PublicationDetail.aspx?PubId=71#page5.

    WebMD. “A Healthy Type 2 Diabetes Diet”, http://diabetes.webmd.com/eating-right.

    International Diabetes Center. “My Food Plan” 4th ed., 2008.

    Patient Resources

    Locate a nutrition professional at American Dietetic Association, http://www.eatright.org/.

    Locate a diabetes educator at American Association of Diabetes Educators, http://www.diabeteseducator.org/.