The American Diabetes Association recommends several methods of planning meals for diabetics. Carbohydrate counting requires your to calculate the total carbohydrates in the food she eats each day. Exchange lists group similar foods -- carbohydrates, proteins, starches, fats, dairy products, meats and free foods. A carbohydrate exchange, for example, has 15 g of carbohydrates per serving. A dietitian can work with you to determine the number of exchanges of proteins, carbohydrates and sugars you need each day.
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Carbohydrates provide 4 calories of energy per gram of food. Simple carbohydrates, including sugar, processed foods, fruits and some vegetables convert quickly into glucose. Complex carbohydrates in dried beans, whole grains and starchy vegetables digest slowly and help to keep your blood sugar even. The average person with diabetes may consume about 45 to 60 g of carbohydrates per meal and needs at least 130 g per day to to provide adequate energy and fuel to the body, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Our bodies do not require sugar or other simple carbohydrates. In fact, many sugary foods provide only empty calories because so they contain so little nutrition. However, if you have diabetes, you need not give up desserts altogether as long as they plan their meals carefully. If you normally eat 45 to 60 g of carbohydrates at each meal, for example, include your fruit or dessert in that total. If you planned meal contains too many carbohydrates, subtract bread, potatoes or other carbohydrate sources to allow for dessert.
Protein sources include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, soy and dairy products. The amount of protein you need each day depends on your weight and the number of calories you eat. The Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 mg of protein per kilogram of weight, according to the American Diabetes Association. The acceptable range for protein intake is 10 to 35 percent of total calories, but if you have diabetes, this should not exceed 20 percent of your total calories.
People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin, so they must take injections every day. Meal planning involves balancing carbohydrate intake, insulin dosage and activity level, according to the National Institutes of Health. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, so their bodies cannot convert glucose into energy efficiently. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight are key components of type 2 diabetes. Despite the emphasis on carbohydrate exchanges and carbohydrate counting, calories and fats matter, too, especially for people with diabetes who need to lose weight.