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3 Ways To Create A Diabetes Diet Meal Plan

By: | Tags: , , | Comments: 0 | November 1st, 2015

Although medications are strongly used in order to control the symptoms and effects of diabetes, there are also behavioral and lifestyle changes that can provide strong support in managing blood sugar and healthy approaches to both nutritional needs and gaining greater health literacy in regards to the issue.  The use of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) has become one of the most critical and pivotal components of diabetes care.  This is not only because MNT is applicable to both type 1 and 2 diabetes, but also because the practice raises accountability and responsibility in individuals regarding personal wellness. MNT as a new treatment for diabetes patients is quickly gaining speed and momentum in the medical community.

An Overview Of MNT

Another important point about MNT is that it can be scalable for individual needs, which also means that three popular methods of creating meal plans such as the plate method, carb counting, and the use of the glycemic index are also within this practice of lifestyle changes that can bring about stronger health and wellness in people with diabetes.

Overall, nutritional management, especially as designed by a physician or registered dietician, was initially used for the purpose of delaying or preventing the development of complications from type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Blindness
  • CHD
  • Nephropathy
  • Neuropathy

As the impacts of our obese society on the actual prevalence of developing type 2 diabetes has also become a focus, the use of nutritional counseling has further become a counter measure for addressing risk factors in people who do show precursors for the disease.  It should be noted, however, that there is no single meal plan addressing all of the variables that impact the course of an individual’s disease, and that the only true recommended diet is one that comes as a nutritional prescription which is specifically designed for an individual by their health care team.

Although these specifics are considerations that need to be discussed with professionals, many of the general guidelines for diet and nutrition are based on the national dietary guidelines for Americans.  These basically include:

  • Higher vegetable and fiber intake
  • Lower fats
  • Carb counting for regulation
  • Reduction of portions
  • Reduction of sugar intake, including beverages
  • Increase intake of water
  • Use of whole grains and other foods with a lower glycemic index to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings

While these guidelines are also general rules for better body nutrition and have the ability to reduce weight, specific meal plans should not only consider existing eating habits, but should also look at culture, lifestyle, and other variables that can impact how quickly a person is metabolizing sugars and other nutrients in the first place.

Looking At Goals

In considering different methods for creating a diabetes meal plan, it should also be noted that nutrition recommendations are also developed and implemented to meet specific treatment goals and outcomes. This also means that even with a positive nutritional routine, metabolic parameters should still be monitored in order to ensure that these wellness goals are being achieved. Some factors that should be looked at along with blood glucose levels include:

  • Glycosylated hemoglobin levels
  • Lipid values
  • Blood pressure
  • Body weight
  • Renal function
  • Quality of life

While these factors are both objective and subjective as measurements, they still indicate a complete perspective of how changes through a diabetes meal plan can impact a person’s life.

This also makes the three most popular methods of plate guidance, carb counting, and the use of the glycemic index a viable way for people to easily plan meals that will aid in managing diabetes or diabetic risk factors. These methods can also be easily customized to meet individual needs, since each method is based on a foundation for regulating nutrients in a manner where they will provide the greatest benefit to the body.
The Plate Method

The Plate Method

This is one of the easier protocols to follow, and, while also scalable for specific diabetic needs, it can provide individuals with risk factors for diabetes a means of lowering weight and lipids, and thus lowering risk. For this type of diabetes meal plan, guidance from the food groups in MyPlate helps to dictate the variety of foods as well as the proportions they should be eaten in. Further guidance is also given through sectioned and coded plates that indicate portion size for each food.

For most people with risk factors or with type 2 diabetes that is more readily managed, the plate method can become an easy addition to healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Carb Counting And The Glycemic Index

Although the two different meal plan methods for carb counting and the use of the glycemic index are slightly more involved than the plate method, they can also be more exact in cases where diabetic control does require more monitoring and effort. This is because both of these diabetes meal plans are also taking into consideration the manner in which the body uses the nutrients that are ingested.

With a carb counting meal plan, the intake amount, intake times, and types of carbohydrates are closely monitored. As a result, this can produce consistent blood sugar levels, and can improve the achievement of target glucose goals. Further, carb counting meal plans also have an added benefit of possible weight loss, which can also beneficially impact the course of the illness. This type of meal plan should also be guided by a physician or dietician, especially as carb values and impact on blood glucose may also represent a learning track in disease management.

In this way, the use of the glycemic index in creating a meal plan will also require guidance and education. Understanding the glycemic values of different foods will also influence how a person proceeds in their diet. Generally, all foods fall under a glycemic index between 0 and 100, with lower value foods representing ones which take longer to break down, thus reducing blood sugar spikes.  By planning meals based on these calculations, diabetics can not only avoid possible future complications, but can also use the lifestyle change as a means of ensuring a steady blood sugar level throughout the day.

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