Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Why does it matter what I eat?
What you eat is closely connected
to the amount of sugar in your blood. The right food choices will help you
control your blood sugar level.
I have to follow a special diet?
There isn't one "diabetes diet."
Your doctor will probably suggest that you work with a registered dietitian to
design a meal plan. A meal plan is a guide that tells you what kinds of food
you can choose at meals and snack time and how much to have. For most people
with diabetes (and those without, too), a healthy diet consists of 40% to
60% of calories from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 30% or less from fat.
Can I eat any sugar?
Yes. In recent years, doctors have
learned that eating some sugar doesn't usually cause problems for most people
with diabetes--as long as it is part of a balanced diet. Just be careful
about how much sugar you eat and try not to add sugar to foods.
What kinds of foods can I eat?
In general, at each meal you may
have 2 to 5 choices (or up to 60 grams) of carbohydrates, 1 choice of protein
and a certain amount of fat. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for specific
Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy foods and starchy
foods such as breads. Try to have fresh fruits rather than canned fruits
(unless they are packed in water or their own juice), fruit juices or dried
fruit. You may eat fresh vegetables and frozen or canned vegetables.
Condiments such as nonfat mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are also
Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans and some
vegetables. Try to eat poultry and fish more often than red meat. Don't eat
poultry skin, and trim extra fat from all meat. Choose nonfat or reduced-fat
dairy products such as cheeses and yogurts.
Fat. Butter, margarine, lard and oils
add fat to food. Fat is also in many dairy and meat products. Try to avoid fried
foods, mayonnaise-based dishes (unless they are made with fat-free mayo),
egg yolks, bacon and high-fat dairy products. Your doctor or dietitian will tell
you how many grams of fat you may eat each day. When eating fat-free
versions of foods (like mayonnaise and butter), check the label to see how many
grams of carbohydrates they contain. Keep in mind that these products also
often have added sugar.
What is the
The exchange list
(see the sample below) is a tool to help you plan healthy meals and snacks. To
add variety to your diet, you can substitute certain foods for other foods in
the same group. Some examples are listed at the right.
Food group You can have.....
Or exchange it for...
Fruit 1 small or medium piece of fresh
contains about 15 grams
1/2 cup fruit juice,or canned or chopped fruit
Vegetable (Each serving contains about
5 grams carbohydrates)
1 cup raw vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable
Starch (Each serving contains about
15 grams carbohydrates)
1 slice or ounce bread
1/2 cup pasta, cereal, starchy vegetable
Sugar, honey, molasses 1 teaspoon
4 grams carbohydrates
Milk (does not
include cream, yogurt or cheese)
1 cup milk
12 grams carbohydrates and 8 grams
1 ounce meat, fish, poultry, cheese or
cup dried beansFat (includes nuts, seeds
and small amounts of bacon & peanut
butter) 1 teaspoon oil,
butter or margarine
5 grams fat What if my blood
sugar is below or above normal? If
your blood sugar is low, you may become cranky, tired, confused, shaky or
sweaty. This is a condition called hypoglycemia. This can happen after you have
been working hard or exercising. You should check your blood sugar level and
then drink fruit juice or a regular (not diet) soda right away. This will
usually bring your level back to normal.
However, if you are very thirsty,
urinate a lot or have blurred vision, your blood sugar may be much too high.
Check your blood sugar level and contact your doctor to find out what to do.
Dietetic Association. www.eatright.org.