Meal Planning

Meal planning involves learning how to choose foods and eating the appropriate amounts. The so,called diabetic diet is no different from the diet that all people ought to be eating. It includes plenty of fruits and vegetables; lean meat, chicken, and fish; whole,grain breads and cereals; and low, fat dairy products.

The recommended proportions are 30 percent or less fat, 12 to 20 percent protein, and the rest in carbohydrates (also called simple sugars) and complex carbohydrates (such as cereals, fruits, and vegetables). The major factor in restricting simple sugars e.g., table sugar, honey, molasses is that the body is unable to get the insulin to the cells in time so that glucose [or breakdown product of sugar] can enter.) Basic Eating Guidelines Much of our life is spent in planning what to eat, preparing food, and eating food. In order for the food to be absorbed, it must be broken into tiny particles.

The simpler the food item, the easier it is to absorb. In fact, a few teaspoons of honey given by mouth is absorbed almost as fast as glucose given in the vein. These tiny particles may be completely changed to glucose and have little, if any, nutritional, value, or they may contain varying amounts of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Whatever the "food particle," the basic form of storage is glucose. The three basic food sources are carbohydrates for energy; protein for cellular growth and repair; and fat for heat and an alternative source of energy. All of these food sources can, to a certain extent, be changed into the carbohydrate glucose, but none of the food sources, including carbohydrates, can be changed into protein.

Carbohydrates may be stored as fats (triglycerides), but fats may not be stored as carbohydrates unless they are broken down into parts that include some glucose. It is recommended that people with diabetes eat a well balanced diet of nourishing foods that have appropriate nutrients rather than simple sugars having few, if any, important nutrients. Eating the designated portions of these foods at appropriate times will help control the blood sugar level and maintain the body weight proportionate to the height of the person. Since fat contains a concentrated source of calories, it should be eaten in very limited quantities. To help maintain weight or lose it, if necessary, food intake should be distributed throughout the day into frequent small meals and snacks. This is often patterned into three meals and one or more snacks.

The slowest absorbing food group, protein, should also be distributed appropriately throughout the day to sustain blood-glucose levels. To aid in digestion and the proper rate of food absorption, a high fiber content is recommended. High fiber foods include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables. The diabetic's diet should thus be made up of nutritious foods containing the needed vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, accompanied by adequate water intake.

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