Diabetes Diet Advice and Nutrition Planning
Finding good diabetes diet advice can be a challenge. For example, what does the American Diabetes Association recommend I eat? Is this the only choice? Is this the best choice?
What about Low Carbohydrate diets? The right diabetes nutrition planning is essential for good health.
Having diabetes forces one to look at food and meals differently. Conforming to a proper diet is the cornerstone of good diabetes management. The following information covers how to do this yourself, in addition to several services that can help you in this process.
Please be aware that there is no ONE diet that works for everyone. In fact, the American Diabetes Association explicitly makes this point in its treatment guidelines. For some people, this will take a little experimentation, for others they will get something that works right from the beginning.
American Diabetes Association
The ADA has several different methods that it advocates for eating. The different choices basically are because no one diet has been found to work for everyone.
My Plate Method: First, the ADA advocates designing meals modifying the My Plate Method advocated by the USDA. This is the most simple straight forward way I have seen to get started on a new diet.
Essentially, you just divide your 9 inch wide plate into sections and fill the sections with the appropriate food group. The "diabetes" version of this method simply adds more vegetables and takes away the fruit, for most meals. You can watch a short video of this method after the jump.
Diabetes Food Pyramid: Next, the pyramid is the cornerstone for some of the ADA's various methods of eating. Largely, the ADA is setting aside the pyramid in favor of the more simplified plate method.
The problem with the pyramid is not that it is nutritionally unsound, but that most people can't figure it out consistently over time. However, it is worth taking a look at to see how a solid nutritional diet works.
Diabetic Food Exchange: This diet is the cornerstone for many ADA cookbooks tutorials about how to eat if you have diabetes. Basically, it is a system that assigns values to food based on the foods nutritional characteristic.
Why do this? Well, it allows you to "Exchange" different foods for other foods of similar quality or characteristic. Needless to say, this can get rather complicated. The first article explains the concept of this diet. The next two articles give examples of how this diet works in practice. Check out these very comprehensive Exchange Lists and some handy Exchange Charts.
Whole Food, Plant Based Diet
Whole Food Plant Based Diet: After years of studying the issue, I believe a whole food plant based diet is the absolute best diet choice available, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. The health benefits are outstanding and the nutrition quality you get is amazing. The first link above is to an overview of the diet. If you want to learn more about how to "Get Started" I have gone into great detail in my Get Started with the Plant Based Diet here.
Mediterranean Diet: Some studies claim that the Mediterranean diet is the number one way to eat to avoid and/or improve your diabetes. The diet is rich in vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Additionally, the diet limits red meats and promotes lean meat and fish.
You may be surprised to find out that those following the diet reduced their risk of developing diabetes by up to 87 percent! Come find out more about this incredible way of eating.
Diet Reviews: Over on our weight loss page, I have reviewed over 13 different diets advocated for diabetes health. The list is quite extensive and covers everything from a vegan diet to a high protein diet following the principles set down by Dr. Atkins.
There is certainly no small number of diets to choose from. Figure out the positive and negatives of each diet and see what others have to say about them as well.
Diabetes and Carbohydrates: Regardless of your chosen method of eating, you should learn more about carbohydrates and how they affect your blood sugar. Not all carbohydrates are alike or affect your blood sugar the same way.
This article is an indepth look at the different kinds of carbohydrates and what makes some better than others. What's really critical to understand is How Carbohydrates Affect Insulin Release.
Glycemic Index: When you are ready to take your carbohydrate knowledge to the next level, it is time to learn about the glycemic index. This index is a way to classify how any given carbohydrates affects your blood sugar. You really want to know this information because you will be able to make much better decisions about what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid. It's really not that hard once you get the swing of it!
Food List: Sometimes it's just all overwhelming and you just want a quick and easy list of the best foods you can buy. No exchanges, no carb counting, no long recipes. You just want to grab some food that is good for you and go!
Well, I put together a pretty long list of great foods for people with diabetes in this article. I also put together a list of places where you can get grocery store lists of food that go along with a menu plan. You can see my Diabetic Grocery List here.
Specific Diabetes Nutrition Choices
I have covered a variety of general topics above. However, sometimes you need to get into the specifics to really get the answers you need.
Alternative Treatments: I delve into a whole host of specific treatments that are non-traditional in nature. Some are specific substances, such as green tea, cinnamon and chromium.
Alternatively, I point out other possibilities like acupuncture, meditation and others as a way to get ahead of the game. Either way, its worth taking a look at some alternatives to your current treatment plan.
Coffee: Coffee is one of those substances that people forget is packed with antioxidants. These substances are great for warding off all sorts of maladies. There have been numerous studies finding that coffee may help you avoid diabetes. Additionally, there are also studies that suggest coffee can help you avoid strokes, liver disease and even alzheimer's disease. However, watch the cream and sugar. Even coffee can't save you from too much fat and sugar!
Alcohol: Oh boy, you knew this one was going to be covered, right? Here I go into how alcohol affects your blood sugar and some of the dangers that can occur if you are over served.
We also look into the ADA's recommended alcohol consumption guidelines, so that you can think before you drink! Boo, hiss!
Diet Coke and Diet Soda: This is one of those topics you can file under the, you don't know, what you don't know heading. More and more studies are finding out that diet sodas are probably not all that good for you. Diet sodas also have been found by some researchers to actually cause you to gain weight! Woops!
Obviously, if you are a diet soda drink you will want to take a look at this to decide if you are going to continue on your current path.
By Erich Schultz - Last Reviewed May 2013.