In healthy doses, blood sugar (blood glucose) is a vital way for your body to get the fuel it needs for many things to function. When you eat foods like carbohydrates, your digestive system turns it into sugars, which are released into the blood and move into your cells, providing energy.
Your body makes a hormone called insulin to regulate how much blood sugar you have in your body, and when you have too much blood sugar, or aren’t producing enough insulin to keep things under control, you risk conditions like diabetes.
This is a major illness in America, with 37 million people trying to cope with it and 96 million dealing with a precursor to this illness called prediabetes without even knowing it. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, but it can be managed with lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments. Let’s look at the diet changes you can make by examining how diabetes affects your body, what changes in your diet can make a difference, and what diabetic meal plans will offer the most benefit.
If you live in the Little River, South Carolina area and you’re struggling with the signs of diabetes, Dr. Rogers Walker and his dedicated team at Walker Urgent & Family Care can help.
How diabetes affects your body
Chronic excess blood sugar from diabetes results in damage in many places throughout the body, including your:
- Circulatory system: Diabetes can narrow blood vessels, leading to problems with blood flow and increasing the chances of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
- Nervous system: Nerve damage (neuropathy) is common with diabetes and can cause problems with pain and numbness in your extremities, hips and upper legs.
- Cardiovascular system: In addition to the blood vessel-related issues, diabetics often struggle with obesity, high cholesterol, and other things that stress the heart.
- Urinary system: The damage the blood vessels can reach the kidneys, leading to kidney disease and failure.
The nerve problems alone can affect your vision, digestive system, and sexual health, and creates problems with your metabolic process.
Dietary changes that can help
Eating better means reducing the types of food that create the blood sugar spikes, so focus on high fiber foods, low-fat dairy, healthy cooking oils, and lean proteins (like low fat meats and fish) in healthy portions.
Monitoring your food intake will also be helpful, such as keeping track of your carbs and sugars. Also keep a schedule for when you eat, including any snacks to reduce the amount of overeating. This will help in planning healthier meals to reduce symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetic meal plans
Since carbohydrates are responsible for a lot of the blood sugar your body gets, diet plans that reduce the amount you intake will be important. To that end, a good meal plan should include more non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, green beans), fewer refined sugars and refined grains, and a greater focus on natural, homemade foods.
Here are some methods for preparing your plate:
Count your carbs
For all the reasons mentioned above, keeping track of your carb intake will help a great deal to control your blood sugar and keep you health on the right track. Set limits for how much of any given carb or refined sugar you eat during a meal and during the day.
Try the plate method
This is a way to control how much you eat, as overeating is easy even when you’re trying to cut back. This method starts with using a 9-inch dinner plate and measuring out your portions:
- Half of your plate should have non-starchy vegetables (salad, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli),
- One quarter of it should have lean protein (chicken, turkey, beans, eggs, tofu)
- One quarter should have your carbs (grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, pasta, yogurt)
And don’t go back for seconds.
Control portion sizes
This is the amount of food you eat at one time, and controlling it will both affect your diabetic symptoms and your weight. So rather than enjoying a massive plate of food you love, carefully choose how much is safe to eat now, and save the rest for enjoying later.
Diabetes can lead to dangerous complications, but you can lead a healthier life while coping with it. If you have diabetes and you’re struggling with diet changes or other issues, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family care.