When you’re talking about healthy eating, the conversation inevitably turns to which diet is the best for overall health. While researchers continue to search for the...
Diabetes Diet: Nutrition and Diet Tips and Plan
What does research tell us is the best diet for Type 2 Diabetes?
A Diabetes Dietitian will tell you, there is no magic eating pattern that will stabilize blood sugar 100% of the time, but fortunately there are some nutrition and diet tips that can help with managing diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association spent 5 years analyzing hundreds of research studies for the best diabetic diet only to find that the way everyone’s bodies respond to food is extremely different! Fortunately, there are ADA suggestions in place that can guide eating habits in the best way possible for Type 2 Diabetes management, and allow people some variety on their plate!
The Diabetes Plate Method
The Diabetes Plate Method is an easy way to focus on a healthy balance of all the food groups as well as what sized portions to aim for. The best part is that there is no counting or measuring! Using a 9” plate, imagine cutting your plate into three sections. Read below for what foods (and how much) go into each section:
- Make ½ of the plate non-starchy vegetables:
Non-starchy veggies are low-carb and high in fiber so they don’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly. Added bonus- they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals!
Examples: leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, snow peas, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Make ¼ of the plate carbohydrates:
Carbs have the biggest effect on blood sugar, so aiming for one serving per meal is the goal. Keep in mind, complex carbs (fruits, veggies, and whole grains) are higher in fiber which is also helpful for blood sugar control and satiety.
Examples: fruit, beans, starchy veggies (squash, potatoes, pumpkin), brown rice, whole wheat bread or pasta, oats, quinoa, and dairy foods (milk, milk substitutes, and yogurt).
- Make ¼ of the plate protein:
Strive to grab lean protein or plant based protein options when possible. Lean protein has less saturated fat, so it is better for heart health!
Examples: chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu, beans, lean beef, lean pork, nuts, seeds, and nut butters.
- Water or a low-calorie drink:
Beverages with added sugar can spike blood glucose levels very quickly. Too much added sugar can also lead to increased risk of heart disease. Consider drinking water or another low-calorie drink whenever possible such as unsweetened coffee or tea, sparkling water, or diet soda/drinks.
For more information on the Diabetes Plate Method visit Diabetes Food Hub.
Want more examples of foods that fit into the three sections of the Diabetes Plate? Visit What Can I Eat? for great ideas and variety from the American Diabetes Association.
Foods to avoid with Type 2 Diabetes
When considering diets for diabetics, clients also ask me what foods they should avoid with Type 2 Diabetes. The good news? All foods can fit into a healthy eating pattern for Type 2 Diabetes… in moderation! The key is portion sizing and keeping the Diabetes Plate Method in mind. Because certain foods have more of an impact on blood sugar (think carbs and sugar), Type 2 Diabetics should be mindful of their consumption levels.
If you are going to have a starchy or sugary snack, try pairing it with a fiber, protein, or healthy fat in order to help balance blood glucose levels.
Looking for diabetes friendly recipes that don’t skimp on taste? With recipes from balsamic marinated chicken to spaghetti frittata, we’ve got something for everyone. Work with a Foodsmart Dietitian who can help customize a nutrition plan with recipes that are healthy, tasty, and nutritious.