Diabetics need to keep their blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar and weight under control to help manage their medical condition and prevent complications. The American Diabetes Association says one of the best ways to do this is through a meal plan that emphasizes fresh produce, lean protein and whole grains over high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods. A daily meal plan of 1,800 calories might be a beneficial option for diabetic women between 31 and 50 years old or diabetic men aiming to lose weight, though you may need more if you are very physically active. Ask your doctor or a dietitian for help planning a daily menu.
Pick Whole Over Refined Grains at Breakfast
A typical breakfast might include a poached egg, a serving of fresh fruit such as half of a grapefruit, two slices of toast spread with 1 teaspoon of margarine and an 8-ounce glass of skim milk. Another option could be 1 1/2 cups of whole-grain, unsweetened breakfast cereal, 1/2 cup of sliced fruit, 1/4 cup of unsalted nuts like almonds and 1 cup of skim milk. Diabetics should choose whole grains like whole-wheat bread over products made from white flour for a meal with a lower glycemic index and more nutrition.
Go for Lean Protein at Lunch
Lunch could be a whole-wheat turkey sandwich with 3/4 ounce of pretzels, a side salad topped with fat-free dressing and 3/4 cup of sliced fruit. Use low-sodium, skinless turkey or chicken breast, or drained canned light tuna fish instead of fattier cuts of red meat whenever possible, and pick condiments low in fat like mustard or reduced-fat mayonnaise. A meatless, high-protein lunch could feature 1 cup of low-sodium black bean soup garnished with 1/4 cup of grated reduced-fat cheese, baked tortilla chips with salsa and fruit.
Work in Plenty of Vegetables With Dinner
The ADA advises that a diabetic should aim to fill at least half of her plate with nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, asparagus, beets, salad greens, tomatoes, cabbage or cauliflower. For instance, 3 ounces of roasted, skinless chicken breast combined with 1 cup of baked winter squash, 1/2 cup of cooked dark leafy greens such as spinach, a whole-grain bread roll and fruit might serve as dinner. Another example might be 3 ounces of lean pork roast, 1 cup of steamed green vegetables, 1 cup of roasted sweet potatoes and one-half piece of fruit.
Low- or Nonfat Dairy for Snacks
Midmorning, afternoon and evening snacks can help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels stable as long as they steer clear of sugary treats and choose options dense with lean protein. Snacks could consist of 6 ounces of yogurt, low-fat cheese paired with whole-wheat crackers or a glass of skim milk served with a toasted low-fat, whole-grain waffle spread with a tablespoon of nut butter. Pick low- or nonfat dairy products, which provide far less fat than whole-milk items and have an equally low glycemic index. If you're a vegan, a strict vegetarian or lactose-intolerant, substitute calcium-fortified plant milk or yogurt.
- American Diabetes Association: What Is a Diabetes Meal Plan?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Calories -- How Many Can I Have?
- Novo Nordisk: Changing Life With Diabetes: Your 1800 Calorie Meal Plan
- American Diabetes Association: Grains and Starchy Vegetables
- University of Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center: Diabetes - Meal Plan Ideas 1800 Calories/Day
- American Diabetes Association: Dairy
- American Diabetes Association: Create Your Plate