The ideal diabetic diet is both simple and liberal. It is simple because the diet could be adapted by any diabetic; liberal because it could include all the food preferences of the patient. These principles may seem in conflict with many commonly held beliefs about medical and nutritional therapy. The problem with unhealthy diets is that they contain too much of a certain food group. A well-balanced diet is just eating the right amount and type of food.
Objective of a Diabetic Diet
The objective of any diabetic diet is to maintain normal blood glucose levels and prevent complication brought by elevated levels. Diabetics are at risk for developing serious medical conditions, including kidney and heart disease.
Limit Sweets or Take Sugar Substitutes
One important thing to remember is that sugar does not cause diabetes. Limiting sugar intake, however, is important for people who are found to be suffering from diabetes. The body produces insulin in response to increased sugar consumption. The problem with this is that people with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin to convert the sugar into usable energy. This leads to elevated blood-glucose levels and results in dangerous complications such as cardiovascular diseases.
Using artificial sweeteners is a good alternative in place of sugar. These provide the sweet taste in food without raising blood sugar levels. Sugars are naturally-occurring carbohydrates. They contain large amounts of calories and increase blood glucose levels. Artificial sweeteners are sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols contain about half the calorie content of sugars and have a separate type of carbohydrate composition. Other types of alternative sweeteners are “artificial" and contain no calories.
Diets rich in fiber improve the body’s reaction to other carbohydrates. Vegetables and fruits also have lesser amounts of carbohydrates. Fiber is listed as a carbohydrate, but it isn’t broken down during digestion and doesn’t increase calories or carbohydrates in the body. Diets rich in fiber are generally good for the body; they are not only good for diabetics, but are also good in preventing cancer and preventing digestive disorders.
Fiber helps in the digestive process; by improving the movement of food through the digestive system. Fiber helps stabilize blood-glucose levels by decreasing the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines. It also decreases blood-cholesterol levels by absorbing excess bile acids which could be converted into blood cholesterol.
Eating Tips for Diabetic Diet Patients
Eating at proper intervals is also as important as eating the proper type of diet. Diabetics should eat food before doing any type of strenuous activity, or when they expect their energy levels would go down.
People with diabetes have a difficult time converting glucose into available energy or storing it in the body. When people with diabetes eat large amounts of food, the body has a difficult time digesting, leaving them with elevated blood glucose levels. This is the main reason why doctors advice patients to eat small amounts of food at frequent intervals in order to give the body the time to digest adequately.
Diabetic Diet tips to remember when eating:
- Eat slowly
- Eat small frequent meals throughout the day
- Eat light meals before bedtime
- Take meals or snacks before engaging in strenuous activities
- Eat a heavier meal during breakfast
- Eat the same amount of food each day
- Do not skip meals or snacks
- Eat meals at about the same time each day
An ideal diabetic diet should keep blood glucose from rising too high or dropping too low. Eating too much could leave diabetic patients with dangerously elevated blood-glucose levels, which could leave them having a dangerous medical condition called hyperglycemia. Eat too little and these leaves them with hypoglycemia.
The best method of insuring that a patient complies with a diet is when these are discussed and the patient is consulted with what types of food they prefer. If you are diabetic and are formulating a good diabetic diet, you should always consult your doctor or dietitian. These medical professionals can help you develop a diabetic diet which is best suited for you and explain why it is important to follow your diabetic diet.
written by Ronald Uy, RN
© 2009 H.I.C. Digestive Health