Different Systems for Diabetic Meal Planning
Remember that your lifestyle and the state of your diabetes will determine what system is right for you. But there are common principles across all these systems. For example, carbohydrates must be carefully added to your diet since they will always have such a strong impact on your blood sugar. Furthermore, portions are important - no food is necessarily off-limits as long as it is eaten within the right limits.
The Diabetes Food Pyramid recommends six servings from the grains, beans and starchy vegetables group. One serving is a slice of bread or a 1/2 cup of pasta or rice. This system also recommends two to four servings of fruits, where a serving is a medium size fruit or a 1/2 cup of canned fruit. You should consume three to five servings from the vegetables group. One cup of raw vegetables is equal to one serving. Eat two to three servings from the meat, fish and cheese group. A serving of meat or cheese is 2-3 ounces. An egg can also substitute as a serving from this group. The milk and yogurt group contains food that you should consume two to three times a day. A cup of milk or yogurt is one serving. Fats, sweets and alcohol are something you should only use in limited amounts.
Another system is the plate system, which is easier and somewhat more convenient than the Diabetic Food Pyramid. Imagine that your plate is divided in half and that one of those halves is divided again. You now have three sections. Eat 1/2 a plate of non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 a plate of meat or protein and another 1/4 plate of carbohydrates in the forms of grains, breads or starchy vegetables.
Some experts claim that carbohydrate counting is the most effective way to control blood sugar. However, you may most likely need a dietitian to tell you how much carbohydrates you should consume to meet a specific blood sugar goal based on a variety of factors. The idea behind this system is to keep yourself from eating more carbohydrates than your body can handle at one meal.
The ADA came up with the exchange list as a way for diabetics to maintain tighter blood sugar control as well. This system is very similar to carbohydrate counting. You will most likely need a dietitian to help you get started. In this system, a certain number of grams of carbohydrates, proteins and fats constitute a serving or unit. A dietitian will tell you how many units of each macro nutrient you should eat.