Meal planning for diabeticsSunday, November 14, 2021
THE World Health Organization (WHO), in the year 2019, said diabetes was the ninth leading cause of death worldwide with an estimated 1.5 million deaths directly caused by the disease.
The diagnosis of diabetes can be daunting for a number of individuals especially as well-meaning family members and friends starts to offer advice on what to eat and the different remedies to use.
Nutrition plays a very important role in the management of diabetes mellitus. People living with diabetes must ensure that they follow a healthy eating plan, which provides an adequate number of calories needed for day-to-day activities that is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fats.
As it relates to nutrition, key areas of focus are meal planning and scheduling as well as portion control. Meal planning is simply thinking about what you will make for meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) ahead of time. Getting prepared while scheduling has to do with choosing an appropriate time of the day when meals are consumed to ensure that meals are eaten regularly and that major meals are not skipped. It's normally recommended that major meals are had three to four hours apart. This is important as our lifestyle continues to change and people become more engaged each day. Portion control involves choosing a healthy amount of food to eat at each meal. Recommended portion sizes based on established standards should be used to guide portioning.
When planning meals, individuals must take into consideration carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbohydrates is the macronutrient that most affect blood sugar levels and interestingly, this is the nutrients that is highly packed on the plates of most Jamaicans, for example, in our lunches that are purchased at regular day-to-day restaurants. Diets high in unhealthy fats, especially, can affect heart health.
When creating a plan, different approaches can be used inclusive of plate method, carbohydrate counting and glycemic index. The plate method is a simple method of planning meals which involves
• dividing your plate into three parts (a half and two quarters);
• filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables;
• filling quarter of your plate with protein;
• filling the last quarter with starchy food items such a brown rice, yam and banana;
• include healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil; and
• add a serving of fruit or low-fat dairy and drink water or unsweetened tea.
Another important element of meal planning for diabetics is carbohydrate counting. This involves matching the amount of carbohydrate eaten to the insulin dosing (if you take insulin). With carbohydrate counting it is extremely important to keep track of the amount of carbohydrate in each meal. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can assist with teaching one how to identify carbohydrate containing foods, reading food labels and measuring portions.
Additionally, it's important to emphasise the importance of medication adherence and structuring physical activity to control weight and blood sugar levels. Your medical doctor will offer advise if exercise is safe for you.
Below is an example of a general budget friendly meal suitable for diabetics.
2 boiled eggs (without yolk)
3 thin slices whole wheat
8 ounces unsweetened
cocoa made with low-fat milk
1 small orange
6 ounces sautéed chicken
1 slice boiled yam
2 fingers of boiled green
1 small apple
6 ounces steamed fish
1 ½ cups pumpkin rice
1 cup tossed salad
Shanique Rose is a registered nutritionist and dietician, and the president of the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics. You may contact her via e-mail: email@example.com or give her a call at 876-838-9097.