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Diabetes type 2 - meal planning

Definition

When you have type 2 diabetes, taking time to plan your meals goes a long way toward controlling your blood sugar and weight.

Alternative Names

Type 2 diabetes diet; Diet - diabetes - type 2

Function

Your main focus is on keeping your blood sugar (glucose) level in your target range. To help manage your blood sugar, follow a meal plan that has:

  • Food from all the food groups
  • Fewer calories
  • About the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack
  • Healthy fats

Along with healthy eating, you can keep your blood sugar in target range by maintaining a healthy weight. Persons with type 2 diabetes are often overweight. Losing just 10 pounds can help you manage your diabetes better. Eating healthy foods and staying active (for example, 30 minutes of walking per day) can help you meet and maintain your weight loss goal.

HOW CARBOHYDRATES AFFECT BLOOD SUGAR

Carbohydrates in food give your body energy. You need to eat carbohydrates to maintain your energy. But carbohydrates also raise your blood sugar higher and faster than other kinds of food.

The main kinds of carbohydrates are starches, sugars, and fiber. Learn which foods have carbohydrates. This will help with meal planning so that you can keep your blood sugar in your target range.

MEAL PLANNING FOR CHILDREN WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES

Meal plans should consider the amount of calories children need to grow. In general, three small meals and three snacks a day can help meet calorie needs. Many children with type 2 diabetes are overweight. The goal should be a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and getting more activity (60 minutes each day).

Work with a registered dietitian to design a meal plan for your child. A registered dietitian is an expert in food and nutrition.

The following tips can help your child stay on track:

  • No food is off-limits. Knowing how different foods affect your child’s blood sugar helps you and your child keep it in target range.
  • Help your child learn how much food is a healthy amount. This is called portion control.
  • Have your family gradually switch from drinking soda and other sugary drinks, such as sports drinks and juices, to plain water or low-fat milk. 

PLANNING MEALS

Everyone has individual needs. Work with your doctor, registered dietitian, or diabetes educator to develop a meal plan that works for you.

When shopping, read food labels to make better food choices.

A good way to make sure you get all the nutrients you need during meals is to use the plate method. This is a visual food guide that helps you choose the best types and right amounts of food to eat. It encourages larger portions of non-starchy vegetables (half the plate) and moderate portions of protein (one quarter of the plate) and starch (one quarter of the plate). You can find more information about the plate method at the American Diabetes Association website: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate.

EAT A VARIETY OF FOODS

Eating a wide variety of foods helps you stay healthy. Try to include foods from all the food groups at each meal.

VEGETABLES (2½ to 3 cups a day)

Choose fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats, or salt. Non-starchy vegetables include dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cabbage, chard, and bell peppers. Starchy vegetables include corn, green peas, lima beans, potatoes, and taro.

FRUITS (1½ to 2 cups a day)

Choose fresh, frozen, canned (without added sugar), or dried fruits. Try apples, bananas, berries, cherries, fruit cocktail, grapes, melon, oranges, peaches, pears, papaya, pineapple, raisins. Drink juices that are 100% fruit with no added sweeteners or syrups.

GRAINS (3 to 4 ounces a day)

There are two types of grains:

  • Whole grains are unprocessed and have the entire grain kernel. Examples are whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, amaranth, barley, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, and quinoa.
  • Refined grains have been processed (milled) to remove the bran and germ. Examples are white flour, de-germed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.

Grains have starch, a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar level. So, for healthy eating, make sure half of the grains you eat each day are whole grains. Whole grains have lots of fiber. Fiber in the diet keeps your blood sugar level from rising too fast.

PROTEIN FOODS (5 to 6½ ounces a day)

Protein foods include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, and processed soy foods. Eat fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying.

DAIRY (3 cups a day)

Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Be aware that milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods have natural sugar even when they do not contain added sugar. Take this into account when planning meals to stay in your blood sugar target range.
 
OILS/FATS (no more than 7 teaspoons a day)

Oils are not considered a food group. But they have nutrients that help your body stay healthy. Oils are different from fats in that oils remain liquid at room temperature. Fats remain solid at room temperature.

Limit your intake of fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat, such as hamburgers, deep-fried foods, bacon, and butter.

Instead, choose foods that are high in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. These include fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

Oils can raise your blood sugar, but not as fast as starch. Oils are also high in calories. Try to use no more than the recommended daily limit of 7 teaspoons.

WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL AND SWEETS?

If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount and have it with a meal. Check with your health care provider about how alcohol will affect your blood sugar and to determine a safe amount for you.

Sweets are high in fat and sugar. Keep portion sizes small.

Here are tips to help avoid eating too many sweets:

  • Ask for extra spoons and forks and split your dessert with others.
  • Eat sweets that are sugar-free.
  • Always ask for the smallest serving size or children’s size.

Recommendations

A registered dietitian can help you decide how to balance the carbohydrates, protein, and fat in your diet. Here are some general guidelines:

The amount of each type of food you eat depends on:

  • Your diet
  • Your weight
  • How often you exercise
  • Your other health risks

Everyone has individual needs. Work with your doctor, and possibly a dietitian, to develop a meal plan that works for you.

The Diabetes Food Pyramid, which resembles the old USDA food guide pyramid, splits foods into six groups in a range of serving sizes. In the Diabetes Food Pyramid, food groups are based on carbohydrate and protein content instead of their food type. A person with diabetes should eat more of the foods in the bottom of the pyramid (grains, beans, vegetables) than those on the top (fats and sweets). This diet will help keep your heart and body systems healthy.

Another method, similar to the new "plate" USDA food guide, encourages larger portions of vegetables (half the plate) and moderate portions of protein (one-quarter of the plate) and starch (one-quarter of the plate).

GRAINS, BEANS, AND STARCHY VEGETABLES

(6 or more servings a day)

Foods like bread, grains, beans, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables are at the bottom of the pyramid because they should serve as the foundation of your diet. As a group, these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.

It is important, however, to eat foods with plenty of fiber. Choose whole-grain foods such as whole-grain bread or crackers, tortillas, bran cereal, brown rice, or beans. Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking. Choose low-fat breads, such as bagels, tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread.

VEGETABLES

(3 - 5 servings a day)

Choose fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats, or salt. Opt for more dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, and peppers.

FRUITS

(2 - 4 servings a day)

Choose whole fruits more often than juices. Whole fruits have more fiber. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, are best. Drink fruit juices that do NOT have added sweeteners or syrups.

MILK

(2 - 3 servings a day)

Choose low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt. Yogurt has natural sugar in it, but it can also contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Yogurt with artificial sweeteners has fewer calories than yogurt with added sugar.

MEAT AND FISH

(2 - 3 servings a day)

Eat fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying.

FATS, ALCOHOL, AND SWEETS

In general, you should limit your intake of fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat, such as hamburgers, cheese, bacon, and butter.

If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount and have it with a meal. Check with your health care provider about how alcohol will affect your blood sugar, and to determine a safe amount for you.

Sweets are high in fat and sugar, so keep portion sizes small. Here are some tips to help avoid eating too many sweets:

  • Ask for extra spoons and forks and split your dessert with others.
  • Eat sweets that are sugar-free.
  • Always ask for the small serving size.

Learn how to read food labels, and consult them when making food decisions.

References

American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2013. Diabetes Care. 2013;36 Suppl 1:S11-S66.

American Diabetes Association. Nutrition recommendations and interventions for diabetes: a position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2008;31:S61-S78.


Review Date: 8/1/2013
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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