Do you have diabetes or prediabetes? You are not alone, almost 10% of American adults have diabetes and more than a third have prediabetes, a condition that can lead to diabetes. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. These diagnoses can be overwhelming but learning more about managing your blood sugars is a great place to start. Lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, can help manage both diabetes and prediabetes.
Eating delicious and healthy food is an important part of diabetes management, but you don’t want to eat too much. The “Diabetes Plate Method” is an easy way to balance your meals for better management of your diabetes.
- First, divide your plate into half. Fill one-half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, salad and zucchini. These foods are nutritious, filling, and low in carbohydrates, so they will have minimal effect on your blood sugar.
- Then, fill one-quarter of your plate with grains or starchy vegetables. These could include brown rice, noodles, peas, potatoes, corn, rolls, and bread. Limiting the portions of these high-carbohydrate foods will help control your blood sugar.
- Finally, fill the remaining quarter of your plate with lean protein foods like chicken, fish, lean beef or pork, and eggs.
Portion sizes are important for blood sugar control, so don’t pile too much food in each section. You should also use a 9-inch-diameter plate or luncheon plate. Plate sizes have increased over the years, so a larger plate will create larger portions.
To balance out your meal, you can add a serving of fruit, like a small apple or orange, and a serving of low-fat dairy, nonfat milk or yogurt. Healthy fats can be included in any part of the plate in small amounts. For cooking, use olive oil or canola oil, which are higher in the healthy monounsaturated fats. You can also add nuts, seeds, and avocados in moderation to your meals as a source of healthy fats.
The plate method is a great start for diabetes meal planning. Use this method at home or when eating out to help monitor your meals. For a specific meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and health needs, consult with a registered dietitian. Living with diabetes is challenging, but it is important to remember that making healthy choices can have a big effect on the course of the disease—and your quality of life. With all of the holiday festivities, make sure you’re prepared to eat healthy by checking out these tips and recipes. And for even more information on living with diabetes and healthy recipes, visit the American Diabetes Association website.