It is no secret that a balanced diet can help ease the pain and suffering associated with many common ailments. Some dieticians have even been able to design menus for specific health conditions but is there such a thing as a diabetic diet?
When food is digested, insulin helps to move glucose or blood sugar out of the blood and into cells where it creates energy. Diabetics either don’t produce enough insulin or for some reason the body is unable to fully utilize the insulin. If the glucose level increases then the body is starved of much needed energy. This is why you will see diabetics checking their glucose level or as some people call it, their blood sugar levels routinely.
Over 20 million people in the United States have diabetes. If untreated, diabetics could face some serious complications:
• Heart disease
• Kidney disease
• Eye problems
• Nerve damage
Many people who suffer from diabetes think that there is a set diabetic diet but more dieticians and doctors are weighing in on the issue and are saying that there is no such thing as a diabetic diet. They insist that diet plans should be completely individualized.
Since diabetics are watching their glucose level, they tend to think that they can never, ever have refined sugar. In the 70’s and 80’s doctors followed the same principal and encouraged those watching their blood sugar levels to stay away from sugar. Today, both dieticians and doctors suggest if you are diabetic or concerned about your glucose level, simply limit your intake of items like refined white bread that contain lots of sugar. Their standard recommendation is the following: make sure half your plate is covered in iron rich vegetables, limit meat portions to a moderate size, and fill one-quarter of your plate with fresh fruit and whole grains.
Staff at the Mayo Clinic agrees with this approach. They say while there is no fixed diabetic diet, there are diet plans that can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check and keep you feeling energized. They say sticking with a variety of nutritious foods in moderate amounts, as well as maintaining regular mealtimes will go a long way in controlling glucose level. Avoiding fried food and any foods that are high in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium is encouraged.
The clinic staff says a lot of the patients they’ve worked with find it helpful to keep a journal to track their eating habits and their blood glucose level.
A registered dietician can help you put together a diabetic diet based on your tastes and lifestyle. There are many different approaches to a diabetic diet that can keep your blood glucose level in the normal range. For example, some people find that simply counting carbohydrates makes a big difference in the glucose level; others find a system called the “exchange” where you would do something like trade one small piece of fruit for 1/3 of your pasta serving, can lower blood sugar levels.
The new consensus seems to be that while diet plays a significant role in managing diabetes, it doesn’t mean you have to completely deprive yourself of all the food items you enjoy.