If you have diabetes, SparkPeople highly recommends that you work directly with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator to receive comprehensive training in diabetes self-management. Together you can develop a diabetes meal plan based on your health goals, tastes, and lifestyle—as well as the latest guidelines for healthy eating. Below are examples of two different meal planning systems; your registered dietitian can help you decide which is best for you.|
1. Carbohydrate Counting is the most accurate meal planning system for controlling blood sugar levels. Essentially, carbohydrate counting is a way to “budget” the amount of carbohydrate eaten at any meal or snack. This method allows you to choose any type of carbohydrate foods, as long as the portion size you choose allows you stay within your goal “budget.” In general, about half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrate foods. However, if you have diabetes, it is important to eat roughly the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal. Commonly recommended “budgets” are 30 to 45 grams (2 to 3 servings) of carbohydrate per meal for women and 45 to 60 grams (3-4 servings) per meal for men. Both women and men should limit snacks to 15 to 30 grams (1 to 2 servings) of carbohydrates. (Click here for a printable reference chart of carbohydrate servings.) Your Registered Dietitian will determine the right amount of carbohydrates for you, along with guidelines for protein and fat intake.
In addition to carbohydrate budgeting, it is important to space your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable. Experts recommend waiting at least two hours (but no more than five hours) between meals and snacks during the day. This will help prevent your blood sugar level from going too high or too low. Here's a sample meal plan that uses the carbohydrate counting method:
2. The Plate Method allows you to visually evaluate the carbohydrates in your meal and the overall nutritional balance in five easy steps:
For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.