Diabetes is a disease in which a person has a high blood glucose or sugar level. This can be caused by the body not producing enough insulin or the body not reacting to the insulin it produces.
Insulin is a chemical that is produced in the pancreas that pushes sugar into cells to enable it to be used as fuel for the body. When there is not enough insulin the excess blood sugar floats freely in your body causing diabetes. Diabetes is controllable. Some people manage their diabetes through diet, exercise, and weight control to keep from having to take medications. Some people may require medications and sometimes insulin in addition to diet and exercise.
Regular check-ups with your primary care provider are important. Blood work will usually be done every three to six months to monitor your A1C which is the three month average of your blood sugar. Cholesterol levels are also often checked frequently.
A diabetic diet is a diet that enables you to eat a variety of foods low in calories and fat with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grain. When you eat excess calories and fat your body produces an excessive amount of glucose for your body.
Making healthy choices can keep your blood sugar in control. Weight loss in people with adult onset or type 2 diabetics is recommended. Weight loss may enable you to cut down on diabetic medicines because your blood sugar will be lower.
Counting carbohydrates is important. This is the main source of glucose for your body. Carbohydrates have the most impact on your blood sugar. It’s important to make sure you don’t skip meals and that your amount of carbohydrates is consistent on a day to day basis especially if you take diabetic medications or use insulin.
There are no special foods for diabetics; instead there are some foods that are a better choice than others. It is important to learn portion control.
All foods can be included in your diabetic diet, including sweets. Eating a dessert every once in a while is okay, just not on a daily basis.
Keeping track of carbs is important. Your daily carb intake should average from around 180 to 270 grams a day. The food you eat has a label on it to calculate the number of carbs per serving size. An average of 60 grams per meals with an additional 90 grams for snack should be sufficient. This number can be adjusted depending on your daily blood sugar levels and activity. The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you need to fuel the cells. Likewise, if you are less active you will require less carbohydrates.
There are three main types of carbohydrates: starches, sugars and fiber. On a nutrition label, the term total carbohydrate includes all three. This is the number you should pay attention to.
Foods high in starch include vegetables like peas, corn, potatoes and beans. Grains like oats, barley and rice are also part of this group. These grains produce foods like pasta, bread and crackers. These types of foods are high in carbohydrates.
Sugar is another type of carbohydrate. Natural occurring sugars include milk and fruit. Sugar goes by other names such as sucrose which is table sugar. Fructose is fruit sugar. Lactose is milk sugar.
Foods that have fructose or lactose are better for you than those with sucrose. One example is that fruit is better for you than canned fruit which includes syrup added to fruit.
Fiber is another type of carbohydrate. It comes from plant foods. Fiber includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Fiber contributes to good digestive health. It reduces high cholesterol. The average person should consume about 30 grams or more of dietary fiber a day. This type of carbohydrate regulates your bowel habits and reduces your risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Fiber is the healthiest of the carbohydrates. Some examples of foods that have 15 grams of carbohydrates in them are: five crackers, a small piece of fruit, a slice of bread, six chicken nuggets, two small cookies, and many more.
While counting carbohydrates is important, do not forget about adding necessary proteins and fat to meals. This would include meat, eggs and cheese which are all low in carbohydrates. Since everybody responds to carbohydrates differently, counting your carbs and testing your blood sugar before and after eating is optimal. This will allow you to better adjust the types of foods you eat and the quantity of carbs you should ingest.
Also the amount of exercise and activity you have a daily basis will affect your blood glucose level. By checking your sugar daily you can decide if you need to add or subtract carbohydrate foods from your diet.
Always work with your doctor or dietitian to help monitor your diet and your diabetic medications.