Friday, March 28, 2008

Diabetic Food Pyramid

If you're diabetic, no one needs to tell you how important it is to eat properly. That's why the American Diabetes Association developed a special diabetic food pyramid, just to help those of us who have special dietetic needs eat more healthfully.

First Step: Portion Control and Timing

What you eat when you have diabetes is critically important, but before you start changing what you eat, address when you eat and how much you eat. Follow these rules.

1. Instead of eating three meals a day, try to eat six small ones, focusing on breakfast. Break your meals into breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, supper, bedtime snack. At the very least, make sure you have breakfast first thing in the morning, within an hour of rising.

2. Eat a mixture of carbs and proteins with every meal. Proteins give you quick energy without shooting up your sugar, and carbs give you slower-acting energy. Eating both stabilizes your insulin level from one meal to the next.

3. Learn what proper portion sizes for a serving are, and especially learn what a 3-ounce portion is. We eat portions that are far too large, and no food pyramid will repair simple overeating. This is especially critical if you follow the six-meals-a-day rule above.

Second Step: Follow The Diabetic Food Pyramid

The largest part of your caloric intake every day should be starches – grains. But you need to watch which carbs you eat. Avoid anything white – potatoes, white bread, white rice, refined sugars. Whole-wheat alternatives are preferable to anything processed. And of course, avoid sweets. This does not mean you can never have sweets, just that they are a special occasion thing and should never be eaten alone. Eat between 6-11 servings of starches every day.

Vegetables are the next critical part of your daily nutrition, between three and five servings daily. Go for fresh vegetables in preference to canned or even frozen, and try to eat a rainbow – orange carrots, purple cabbage, green peppers, red tomatoes. Eat corn and starchy vegetables sparingly, as these are high in carbs. If you must eat canned or frozen veggies, read the package to assure yourself that there's no added sugar.

Fruits should also be eaten frequently, 2 to 4 servings per day. Especially if you don't eat acid vegetables like tomatoes, make sure some of it is citrus. As with vegetables, be sure to eat a rainbow, and try to eat fresh fruit. If you must eat preserved, canned and frozen fruit is always better than fruit juice, and be sure you read the package to avoid added sugar.

Two to three servings of proteins per day – not meat. Fish and poultry are better than red meat and pork, and fish provides omega-3 fatty acids that can help control your cholesterol level, a common problem for diabetics. Legumes – beans and nuts – can be substituted for meat as your protein as well. Beans are especially good, as they provide high-quality protein and plenty of fiber in addition.

Dairy should be limited to 2-3 servings daily. Your serving size is one cup of milk, so a tall glass of milk will do it. Always choose low-fat or nonfat options when you have the choice, and with sweet dairy products read the label to catch added sugars. This goes doubly for yogurts, which are notorious for adding sugar, especially to low-fat yogurt.

Fats and sweets should be avoided as much as possible. You're going to eat them, but limit yourself – a tablespoon of butter a day, or olive oil to fry your fish. As much as you possibly can, incorporate your sweets as part of your regular diet. Ice cream can provide a portion of your dairy needs, for instance. Never eat sweets by themselves; try, instead, to eat proteins whenever you eat sweet food.

1 comment:

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