Diabetes is a disease characterized by dangerously high blood sugar levels. Diabetics must adhere to dietary restrictions to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Before meals, the ideal target blood sugar level range is 70 to 130 and one to two hours after the start of your last meal, blood sugar levels should be less than 180. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics consume a diet that consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, poultry and fish. Planning weekly meals can help you include a variety of food groups in a way that keeps your blood sugar levels within target range. Speak with your doctor and dietitian about your weekly meal plan ideas.
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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.
- National Diabetes Information Clearninghouse; What I Need to Know About Eating and Diabetes; October 2007
- American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet
- "Eating Well": Diabetes Meal Plan
- California Pacific Medical Center; Sample Menu for Diabetes Management; Cathy Camenga, et al.; 2005