The diet in diabetes should be well balanced and nutritious. Typically, the diet should be high in soluble dietary fiber, and low in fat (particularly saturated fat). The two basic types of diet for diabetic people are low-energy, weight-reducing diets and weight maintenance diets.
The aims of dietary management are abolition of symptoms of high blood sugar, reduction of overall blood glucose and minimization of fluctuations, weight reduction in obese patients, avoidance of low blood sugar associated with diabetic therapy, avoidance of weight gain associated with therapy and avoidance of diet that causes atherosclerosis or fat deposition in blood vessels that leads to diabetic complications.
Types Of Diabetic Diet
Low-Energy, Weight-Reducing Diets
This type of diet is necessary for those who are overweight. Diet should be planned such that your daily intake is 500-1000 kcal deficient so as to induce a weekly weight loss of around 0.5-1 kg. Care should be taken to get the right amounts of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Replace foods that are high in fat with those low in it like vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy items. Intake of lean meat and use of less oil in cooking are some ways to reduce fat intake. Starchy carbohydrates like bread, rice, potatoes and breakfast cereal should provide one-third of your daily energy needs. These should be unrefined and high in fiber.
Daily intake of 5 portions of starchy foods is necessary. Avoid foods high in fat or sugar like sweets, cakes, chocolate, biscuits and drinks high in sugar, including alcohol, because they contain more calories and less of nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Weight Maintenance Diets
These are necessary for individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI) or ideal weight. The diet should be high in carbohydrate and low in fat, particularly saturated fat. Ideally, 25% energy intake should be from fats, 55% from carbohydrates and 20% from proteins.
Choose carbohydrates that are high in fiber like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread, breakfast cereals high in fiber like raisin bran, rolled oats. Exercise moderation in intake of sweets. Reduce intake of foods that are high in saturated fats such as red meat, eggs and whole milk dairy products. Make sure you are regular in your meals. Maintain a food diary to keep track of intake of food items and adjust as necessary if you are gaining weight.
Diets For Those Taking Insulin
A regular pattern of meals and snacks help maintain a constant daily intake of carbohydrate, and prevents occurrence of low blood sugar levels.
You can use the plate model for planning your meals. One-fifth (20%) of the plate should come from meat, fish, eggs or cheese. The remainder of the plate should be divided equally between staple foods like rice, pasta, potatoes, bread etc., and vegetables or fruits.
Daily Energy Intake
The approximate daily energy requirements are as follows: sedentary lifestyle – females 1600 kcal, males 2000 kcal; light work – females 2000 kcal, males 2700 kcal; heavy work – females 2250 kcal, males 3500 kcal. Carbohydrates should supply 50-55% of daily energy requirements, fats 25-30% (saturated fats <10%, monounsaturated 10-15%, polyunsaturated <10%) and proteins 15-20%.
Carbohydrate And Dietary Fiber
As noted above, carbohydrates should supply 50-55% of daily energy needs. Significant portion of this should be in the form of dietary fiber.
Soluble fiber is present in such food items as beans, peas, pulses, oats, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is present in whole-meal bread and breakfast cereals. Soluble fiber is more effective in reducing blood sugar level. Sugar-free drinks should be used. Intake of confectionery, puddings, biscuits and cakes should be restricted.
Intake of fat should be restricted to supply of 25-30% of energy needs. The use of monounsaturated fat is beneficial, such as olive oil, canola oil, and oil found in nuts and avocados. Intake of dietary cholesterol should be limited to 300 mg/day.
Moderation is the watchword when it comes to intake of alcohol.
Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels, so it should not be consumed on an empty stomach. Try to eat starchy food items like bread and potato crisps along with intake of alcohol.
Salt intake should be no more than 6 g/day. If you have hypertension (high blood pressure) along with diabetes, then salt intake should be restricted to 3 g/day.
Diabetic Foods And Artificial Sweeteners
There are several special diabetic diets available like Pritkin diet, GI diet, Low carb diet, high fiber diet, Paleolithic diet and vegan diet. They can be tried to see if they have any beneficial effects in your case. Low-calorie and sugar-free drinks are advisable. The non-nutritive sweeteners such as sachaarin, aspartame, sucramate and acesulphame K are helpful to reduce energy intake without sacrificing on sweet taste.