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Diabetes, Diet & Weight Control
Guidelines for Healthy Diabetic Diet to Reduce Weight
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General Advice About Eating Habits for Optimum Health & Weight Management For Diabetic Patients

Diabetes - Diet and Weight Control

Please Note: Diabetes is a serious condition. This page offers general information only. For personal advice about your diabetes, please see your doctor or consult the Diabetes Help section, below.

Diabetes Diet - Summary

Eat a Well Balanced Diet with a Variety of Food at Each Meal

  • As a general guide, follow the Food Pyramid Guidelines. Every day, choose foods from these food groups: starches, vegetables, fruit, meat and meat substitutes, and milk and yogurt. How much of each depends on how many calories you need a day.
  • The key to a healthy diabetic diet for healthy weight maintenance, is BALANCE. Balance your food intake throughout the day, and balance your meals so as to include as many food groups as possible at each meal. In particular, balance your carb-intake throughout the day.
  • Limit your intake of Fats, Sugars and Alcohol.
  • Include moderate amounts of low-fat protein. Protein helps to control between-meal hunger.
  • Eat some starchy carbohydrates at each meal. People might tell you not to eat starches, but that is not correct. Eating starches is healthy for everyone, including people with diabetes. Whenever possible, choose whole wheat or wholegrain carbohydrates: e.g. whole wheat bread.

Diabetes Eating Habits - Summary

  • Do not skip meals. Even distribution of food helps prevent high and low blood sugars.
  • Time your food intake to the action of your diabetes medication.
  • Eat 3 meals a day, plus snacks as needed.
  • Eating regular meals helps control hunger and prevents overeating at the next meal.
  • Try to eat at about the same times every day.
  • Talk with your diabetes teacher to make a meal plan that fits the way you usually eat, your daily routine, and your diabetes medicines. Then make your own plan.

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Follow the Food Pyramid Guidelines

Eat a variety of food to get the vitamins and minerals you need.

Limit Your Intake of Fats, Especially Animal Fats

Limit your consumption of dietary fats. Some contain saturated fats and cholesterol that increase your risk of heart disease. Limiting these foods will help you lose weight and keep your blood glucose and blood fats under control.

  • Fat does not raise blood sugar, but can lead to being overweight.
  • Excess body weight can raise blood sugar.
  • A high-fat diet also increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Reduce both high-fat foods and fats added to meals.

High Fat Foods
High-fat meats, skin on poultry, chips, sausages, luncheon meats, peanut butter, all nuts, whole milk, all fried foods, refried beans, cheeses, pastries, cookies, crackers.

Added Fats
Butter, margarine, etc., cream cheese, cream, Half & Half, salad dressings, oil, gravies, cream sauces, sour cream.

Diabetic Diet Advice - Fats

  • If you do use a small amount of fat, use canola oil, olive oil, or soft margarines (liquid or tub types) instead of fat from meat, butter, or shortening.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free yogurt or fat-free sour cream instead of regular sour cream on a baked potato.
  • Use mustard instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich.
  • Use the low-fat or fat-free substitutes such as low-fat mayonnaise or light margarine on bread, rolls, or toast.
  • Eat cereal with fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Do not aim for a “fat free” diet. A small amount of fat at each meal makes it tastier and helps to fight between meal hunger.
  • Choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, and seeds. Keep your saturated fat intake to a minimum

Limit Your Intake of Sweets

Sweets contain calories and some but not much nutrition. Limiting these foods will help you lose weight and keep your blood glucose under control. Sweets include: Regular sodas, ice cream, cake, cookies, candy.

How can I satisfy my sweet tooth?

It's okay to have sweets once in a while. Try having sugar-free popsicles, diet soda, fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt, or sugar-free hot cocoa mix.

Diabetic Diet Advice - Sweets

  • Share desserts in restaurants.
  • Order small or child-size servings of ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Divide homemade desserts into small servings and wrap each individually.
  • Freeze extra servings.
  • Don't keep dishes of candy in the house or at work. Remember, fat-free and low-sugar foods still have calories.
  • Talk with your diabetes teacher about how to fit sweets into your meal plan.

Limit Your Intake of Alcohol

Alcohol has calories but no nutrients. If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it can make your blood glucose level too low. Alcohol also can raise your blood fats.

If you want to drink alcohol, talk with your doctor or diabetes teacher about how it fits into your meal plan.

Diabetic Diet - Dairy Foods

Milk and yogurt Milk and yogurt give you energy, protein, fat, calcium, vitamin A, and other vitamins and minerals.

  • Drink fat-free (skim or nonfat) or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Eat low-fat or fat-free fruit yogurt sweetened with a low-calorie sweetener.
  • Use low-fat plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.

Diabetic Diet - Meat and Meat substitutes

The meat and meat substitutes group includes meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, fish, and tofu. Eat small amounts of some of these foods each day. Meat and meat substitutes help your body build tissue and muscles. They also give your body energy and vitamins and minerals. Examples of meat substitutes include: Eggs, peanut butter, tofu, cheese, soy beans.

  • Buy cuts of beef, pork, ham, and lamb that have only a little fat on them.
  • Trim off extra fat.
  • Eat chicken or turkey without the skin.
  • Cook meat or meat substitutes in low-fat ways: broil, grill, stir-fry, roast, steam, stew.
  • To add more flavor, use vinegars, lemon juice, soy or teriyaki sauce, salsa, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and herbs and spices.
  • Cook eggs with a small amount of fat or use cooking spray.
  • Limit the amounts of nuts, peanut butter, and fried chicken that you eat. They are high in fat.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free cheese.

Diabetic Diet - Vegetables

Vegetables give you vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with very few calories. If you have more than one serving at a meal, you can choose a few different types of vegetables or have two or three servings of one vegetable.

  • Eat raw and cooked vegetables with little or no fat, sauces, or dressings.
  • Try low-fat or fat-free salad dressing on raw vegetables or salads.
  • Steam vegetables using a small amount of water or low-fat broth.
  • Mix in some chopped onion or garlic.
  • Use a little vinegar or some lemon or lime juice.
  • Add a small piece of lean ham or smoked turkey instead of fat to vegetables when cooking.

Diabetic Diet - Fruit

Fruit gives you energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

  • Eat fruits raw or cooked, as juice with no sugar added, canned in their own juice, or dried.
  • Buy smaller pieces of fruit.
  • Eat pieces of fruit rather than drinking fruit juice.
  • Pieces of fruit are more filling.
  • Drink fruit juice in small amounts.
  • Save high-sugar and high-fat fruit desserts such as peach cobbler or cherry pie for special occasions.

Diabetic Diet - Starches and Grains

This group includes bread, grains, cereal, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, crackers, yams, lentils, noodles, dried beans, peas, lima beans. They give your body energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole grain starches are healthier because they have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

  • Eat some starches at each meal. People might tell you not to eat starches, but that is not correct.
  • Eating starches is healthy for everyone, including people with diabetes.

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