Diabetes Type 2 is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells in your body are resistant to your insulin. Glucose is converted by insulin into energy. When we eat food our body breaks down all of the sugar and starches into glucose. Once the glucose is in the body then the insulin takes the glucose and puts it into your cells.
Following a diabetic meal plan isn’t about being deprived, assures the American Diabetes Association. Instead, you make informed choices about what foods can enhance your health while helping you control weight and blood sugar. All healthy diets should include grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources and calcium-rich foods daily. A diabetic menu — including one for lunchtime — emphasizes certain foods from each of these categories. Ask your doctor or a nutritionist if you need help developing a diabetic meal plan that fits your lifestyle.
Bring on the Nonstarchy Vegetables
The ADA recommends that about half of a healthy diabetic meal plan should consist of nonstarchy vegetables. These have fewer total carbohydrates and more fiber than starchy vegetables such as corn or potatoes, meaning they won’t cause dramatic spikes in your blood sugar level. Nonstarchy vegetable choices include asparagus, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, all types of lettuce, cabbage and carrots. A typical lunch for a diabetic might start with a large salad of mixed greens and chopped, raw vegetables, topped with a sugar-free vinaigrette.
Choose Grains Carefully
About 25 percent of the ideal lunch for a diabetic should be grains or high-starch vegetables, beans or legumes. Skip products made with refined grains like white-flour bread or white rice in favor of whole grain items such as whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, barley or quinoa, all of which have a low glycemic index and can help keep your blood sugar level steady. Along with your lunch salad, try seasoned black beans wrapped into a whole-wheat tortilla along with your choice of vegetables.
Lean on Lean Protein
A rich source of protein should take up the remaining 25 percent of a healthy diabetic meal plan at lunch time. Choose skinless poultry, fish, shellfish, nuts and seeds, soy products like tofu, eggs, lowfat cheese or lean cuts of pork or beef. Use lowfat cooking methods like grilling, steaming or roasting; when you do use added fat, pick poly- or monounsaturated vegetable oils such as olive or canola oil instead of butter. If you’re a vegetarian, the beans in your lunchtime burrito can serve as both a carbohydrate and protein. A healthy diabetic lunch could also include some shredded, roasted chicken in the burrito for an extra protein boost.
Don’t Forget Dairy
Dairy products have a low glycemic index and are a good way for a diabetic to ensure she’s getting adequate calcium and vitamin D. Avoid full-fat milk, yogurt or cheese, all of which are high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Have a glass of lowfat or nonfat milk with your lunch, or include shredded lowfat cheese on your bean and chicken burrito. People who don’t consume dairy can substitute fortified plant-based products such as almond milk or soy yogurt.
Enjoy Fruit for Dessert
Fruit is high in simple sugars but not off-limits for diabetics, especially when it’s consumed in small portions and used as a way to fend off cravings for less nutritious treats made with refined sugar. After lunch, have a piece of whole fruit, such as an apple, orange, pear, banana or sliced berries for dessert. You can have canned fruit, but make sure it’s not packed in sugar-dense syrup. Limit your intake of dried fruit, pineapple, melons and fruit juice, all of which have a higher glycemic index than other types of fruit.
In terms of serving size, 1 cup of raw non-starchy vegetables is equivalent to 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. One cup of raw green beans contains approximately 31 calories. In addition to being low in calories, green beans contain very few carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include sugar, starch and fiber. One cup of raw green beans contains 3.26 g of sugar, 0.88 g of starch, and 2.7 g of fiber. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, green beans provide an excellent source of the mineral, potassium. One cup supplies 211 mg. The values for 1 cup of raw green beans should apply to 1/2 cup of string bean juice, but may vary slightly depending on your juicing method.
A diabetes diet should include at least 3 to 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. According to the American Diabetes Association, drinking vegetable juice is an acceptable way of fulfilling your daily recommended intake of non-starchy vegetables on a diabetes diet. However, keep in mind that the process of juicing tends to raise the glycemic index — a measure of the effect of foods on your blood glucose levels — of fruits and vegetables. One reason green bean juice has a higher glycemic index than raw green beans is that most of the fiber found in green beans is lost during the juicing process.
A good source of fiber is defined as having more than 2.5 g per serving. One cup of raw green beans contains 2.7 g of fiber, so raw green beans are a good source of fiber. However, the fact that juicing lowers the fiber content of vegetables is a drawback of drinking rather than eating your string beans. According to the American Heart Association, high fiber foods may help promote a healthy body weight, as well as help improve your cholesterol and blood glucose levels. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Green beans are an excellent source of potassium. Unlike fiber, potassium and other vitamins and minerals are not diminished during the juicing process. Consuming foods with high levels of potassium, such as green bean juice, may help lower your blood pressure. Since people with diabetes are at an increased risk of suffering from hypertension, it may prove beneficial to incorporate green beans and other high-potassium foods into your diet. Potassium helps to suppress the negative effects of sodium on your blood pressure.
Every person has different dietary requirements. Your recommended daily calorie and nutrient needs depend upon your sex, weight and level of physical activity. Broadly speaking, women who would like to lose weight or do not exercise regularly should consume 1,200 to 1,600 calories each day, women that exercise regularly and men that do not exercise regularly should aim for 1,600 to 2,000 calories each day and women and men who exercise strenuously or work physically active jobs should get around 2,000 to 2,400 calories each day. Each meal should consist of two to five servings of carbohydrates and each snack should consist of one to two servings of carbohydrates; your diet should consist of 40 to 50 percent carbohydrates. The meal plans are for a diabetic who needs 1,600 calories per day. Work with your doctor or dietitian to determine how many calories you should aim for each day.
Breakfast prepares you to meet the physical and mental challenges of your day. Whole grains, fruits and eggs are healthy breakfast choices. On a slow weekend morning, prepare a large amount of oatmeal to eat through the week. Add 1/2 cup of skim or soy milk and garnish with 1 cup of seasonal berries, bananas or apples each morning. If you have more time in the morning, make a vegetable omelet with two eggs or egg whites and 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables including mushrooms, peppers and onions. Sides include one slice of whole-grain toast or half of an English muffin or bagel with margarine and sugar-free jam, low-fat ham or turkey, a small orange, tangerine or grapefruit, or low-fat cottage cheese.
Lunch and Dinner
It can be difficult to prepare lunch and dinner, especially if you are busy throughout the day. Planning a weekly meal plan enables you to prepare meals ahead of time. You can also prepare several dinners and have leftovers or set aside smaller portions for lunch. Each meal in your weekly meal plan should contain a lean protein source, carbohydrate, fiber and vegetables. Well-rounded meals include spaghetti with meatballs with a side salad and garlic bread; grilled chicken with baked potato and 1 to 2 cups of vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or asparagus; tuna casserole, heavy on the peas; shepherd’s pie; beef and broccoli with brown rice; and kebabs with a variety of peppers, onions and other vegetables. For lunch, bring leftovers and a side salad. Vary the types of lettuce you use in your salads to create variety in your diet.
Space meals and snacks around two to three hours apart. Choose light, healthy snacks. Throughout the week, vary your snacks to vary the nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Easy-to-prepare snacks include low-fat milk; small pieces of fruit, such as bananas, oranges and apples; 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt; and fat-free tortilla chips with salsa. If your sweet tooth is calling, treat yourself to 1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate pudding. Finally, if you have more time on your hands, prepare a snack of 3 cups light popcorn or one-half of a sandwich of low-fat turkey or ham and cheese.
Depending on the plan you work out with your health-care team, your meals are built around a specific amount of carbohydrates. Carbs are what cause blood sugar to rise. The more consistent you are in your carb intake, the more stable your blood sugar levels will be. Doctors generally recommended that women eat 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal and that men get 60 to 75, diabetes educators Patti Geil and Tami Ross write in their book “What Do I Eat Now?” Ideally, you will get those carbs from fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains, such as wheat, barley and rice.
Including Rice in Your Diet
One serving of cooked rice equals half a cup, which contains about 15 grams of carbs. If your allowance for carbs is 45 to 60 grams per meal, you can certainly eat a half-cup of rice. Just be mindful of the vegetables, fruits, and dairy you might also be eating at that meal — they will have carbs you need to include in your quota, too. You can eat your rice as a side to your main course, or perhaps as an ingredient in a dessert. You can even include it in a bowl of broth as a satisfying first course.
The less processed your grains are, the more fiber and nutrients they contain. Unless your health-care team has told you not to eat white rice, you can choose white or brown. However, brown rice is a healthier choice for everyone, not just diabetics. The fiber in whole grains such as brown rice is contained in the hull, or coating on the grain. This fiber slows down the breakdown of the rice into sugars during the digestive process. This has a double benefit: Your blood sugar is less likely to shoot up, or spike, from the carbs in the rice, and you will expend more calories digesting the fiber.
Some commonly held ideas about diabetes and food are misconceptions. Well-intentioned family members and friends will tell you you can never eat sugar or sweets again, that you have to skip the rice, bread and potatoes. None of this is true. Even though carbohydrate-rich foods do raise blood sugar, you don’t have to avoid them completely. In fact, your body needs these foods, along with protein and fat, to function properly.
Restaurants are notorious for serving much too much food. If you order rice at a restaurant, survey the serving objectively. If it’s bigger than half a baseball, it’s more than half a cup. Chinese restaurants, for example, usually serve at least 1 full cup of rice with an entree. If you’ve allowed for that full cup in your carbs for that meal, dig in — but if not, measure out the half-cup you planned for and ask the server to remove the rest from the table.