Diabetes, Food and Cooking
The American Diabetes Association has stated that approximately twenty-million persons in America alone have a form of diabetes.
Understanding food and cooking is important for persons with diabetes and their loved ones. Many doctors and dietitians promote eating regularly, only in moderation; counting carbohydrates in order to control blood sugar levels. Balancing carbohydrate intake and medications and insulin helps to determine a person's blood sugar level after eating. Counting carbohydrates may assist in meal planning as well. The following foods contain carbohydrates.
- Pasta, rice, and grains
- Breads, cereals, and crackers
- Milk, soy milk, and yogurt
- Starchy vegetables
- Sweets; such as cookies, cakes, and ice cream
- Fruits and fruit juices
Planned, regular meals at consistent times of the day - as well as not skipping meals, are perhaps the best things that a person with diabetes may do to keep their blood sugar levels consistent. Blood sugar regulation can also be helped through eating consistent amounts of carbohydrates at every meal, as well as checking your blood sugar regularly.
One other suggestion involves tracking meals with a meal planner, which will tell you the number of carbohydrates you have consumed from meal to meal; make sure that you include any snacks you have eaten as well. Generally, women should consume between two and four carbohydrates for each meal, with between zero and two carbohydrates for each snack choice. Men should consume between three and five carbohydrates at each meal, with between zero and two carbohydrates for each snack they eat. A dietitian can help you to determine the appropriate amount of carbohydrates you personally should eat for each meal and snack.
Healthy meal planning includes:
- Three to five servings of vegetables
- Two to four servings of fruits
- Two to four servings of milk or milk products
- Three servings of whole grains
Consumption of foods that are low in salt and contain whole grains are healthier for you. Eating four to eight ounces of meat, or meat substitutes every day, is as well. Limit the amount of fat you consume to one or two servings each meal, selecting fats that are healthy, such as canola oil, nuts, or olive oil. Either limit or avoid entirely fats that are found in butter, bacon, high-fat meats, or solid shortening. Cooking for persons with diabetes is the way you should cook for anyone in the family. Cutting down on sugar, fat and salt lower's everyone's risks for diabetes and additional chronic diseases.
Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar use, in a number of recipes, can be safely cut by one-quarter to one-third; although things like cakes and cookies may not turn out as well when the amount of sugar is reduced. Artificial sweeteners tend to work best in foods that do not require sugar for texture, moistness, or color. There are many cookbooks containing recipes aimed at persons with diabetes from the very companies that produce artificial sweeteners. Sugar may be substituted in small amounts for other carbohydrates in a person's diet; however, its use should be rare because sugar contains empty calories
Cutting Fat and Salt
Making efforts to cut fat and salt out of your diet is important to persons with diabetes. There are a number of ways to achieve a diet that contains reduced levels of fat and salt. Simply cooking in a non-stick pan or skillet, while switching to a reduced fat tub or liquid margarine helps. Eating very little fried food, baking, broiling, grilling, poaching and roasting meats instead does too. Be sure to trim all of your meat well, and remove skin and fat from poultry. Season your vegetables with fat-free, low-sodium broth instead of fat-back, oil, butter, or margarine. You can sprinkle on herbs, spices or lemon juice instead of fat or salt for flavor.
Watch the fat-free and reduced-fat foods that you use carefully; some of them are still high in calories because they contain sugar or additional carbohydrates. A number of them are still high in salt content as well. Be sure to eat more vegetables that are low-calorie instead of poultry, fish, or meat. Use non-fat or reduced-fat milk instead of cheese or sour cream. Use mayonnaise or reduced-fat salad dressing, or cut your use of regular dressings in half with plain non-fat yogurt. Cut your use of oil or fat in recipes by one-quarter or half. Fruit is a better choice for dessert.
Spoons, measuring cups, and a small scale are a person with diabetes best friends in the kitchen, helping to provide the best portion control. After about two or three weeks, you might only need to carefully measure portions only when you try a new food, or when your blood sugar levels or weight need adjusting. Using the same cup, bowl, and plate can make it easier to, 'eyeball,' portion sizes. Serving portions on the plate while you are in the kitchen can help to cut down on second helpings. (Cooking conversion charts)
Exercise and Regular Blood Sugar Monitoring
Remaining as active as possible is a good thing for persons with diabetes, or anyone for that matter. Visiting a gym a couple of days a week and becoming involved in a personal exercise regimen can improve your health and your blood sugar levels. Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly is very important for persons with diabetes. Eating four to five regular, small meals throughout each day decreases your chances of overeating. Cooking for people with diabetes does not mean an end to flavor, good food and enjoyment of food; far from it. Being smart about food choices instead; something that everyone should do, is involved.
What to Cook
Everything! Nothing has changed because you have diabetes, you just have to make better choices where food is concerned. Basic foods like fresh herbs, chicken stock, fresh garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, fat-free half-and-half, fresh vegetables that are in-season, and lean meats such as beef and chicken are all on the menu. There are quite literally hundreds of things you can cook and enjoy. When you find something that you and your family and friends enjoy, write it down! Keep track of the recipes that you like. Don't be afraid to experiment - remember, food is a friend.
Quick Facts: Special Diet
Health Conditions Often Requiring Special Diets
- ADD and ADHD
- Additive-free diets
- Allergies and Intolerances
- Celiac Disease
- Corn allergy or intolerance
- Crohn's Disease
- Dairy allergy or intolerance
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Egg allergies or intolerance
- Gluten-free/Casein-free diet
- Gluten intolerance
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Kosher diets
- Low carbohydrate diet
- Low protein diet
- Low sugar/sugar-free diet
- MSG-free diet
- Nut or Peanut Allergy
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Sodium restricted diet
- Soy allergy or intolerance
- Vegetarian and Vegan
- Wheat allergy or intolerance
- Yeast-free diet