Diabetes Diet and Nutrition

It is important for people with diabetes to learn how to balance meals and make healthy food choices. Providers at MaineHealth are dedicated to educating patients on how to manage their diabetes with adequate nutrition and meal plans.

Healthy Diet for Diabetes

Patients with diabetes should focus on an overall healthy and balanced diet to manage their diabetes. Good nutrition is important to staying healthy. Having a variety of foods and being careful with portion size are some strategies that are useful when trying to plan a diabetes friendly diet.  Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber are also better choices than foods that are heavily processed.

Diabetes and Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood glucose levels in the body. Understanding how much and the kind of carbohydrates in foods will help you manage blood glucose levels. Foods with carbohydrates include:

  • Grains, such as rice, oatmeal and barley
  • Grain-based foods, such as pasta, cereal, bread and crackers
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Sweets, such as candy, soda, cakes, cookies and chips

Diabetes Meal Plan

You need to be able to balance the amount of carbohydrates you eat with the energy requirements and the availability of insulin in the body.  A meal plan can help tell you how much and what kind of foods to eat for meals and snacks. There is not one specific diet for patients with diabetes to follow. The health care team will assist you in finding a meal plan that meets your schedule, needs and food preferences. Some meal plan methods include:

  • Carbohydrate-counting
  • Exchange system
  • Glycemic index
  • Plate method

A healthy diet can benefit everyone in the family so it is not necessary to prepare separate meals.  Nutrition guidelines for people with diabetes are flexible and offer a variety of options. A healthy eating plan that allows occasional sweets will provide adequate nutrition but will also not leave you feeling deprived of favorite treats.

Need Information on Diabetes & Coping With Feelings About Your Diet?

The HealthWise Library offers information on how to cope with negative feelings about your diet with diabetes.

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