All You Need to Know About Food
Food gives us the energy we need to do all the things we love to do every day; it is the fuel that your body cells need to be able to think, work, and play. Nutrition is important for everyone and meal planning is an important part of any diabetes management plan. Your healthcare team will help you make a meal plan that is just for you. Your plan will include foods from all food groups. There is no reason that you can’t still have all your favorite foods – it’s a matter of planning the best types and amounts of foods for you.
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. Carbohydrates are broken down by digestion into glucose (sugar) for use as energy. Carbohydrates normally affect your blood sugar quickly, but last for a shorter period of time. Many people count carbohydrates as part of their meal plan because they can affect your blood sugar more than other food groups. Carbohydrate foods are in the bread, fruit, and milk groups and contain 4 calories per gram.
Fats are a concentrated source of energy and usually affect your blood sugar slowly, but last for a longer period of time. Fats have 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the calories you get from a gram of carbohydrate or protein. It may be best for everyone to try to limit the amount of fat they eat. There are different kinds of fats: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats. The better fats are monounsaturated fats and are found in olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. Foods that contain the highest amounts of saturated fats are whole milk, butter, lard, bacon, red meats, sour cream, and some cheeses. Saturated fats have been shown to increase the risk of fat buildup in arteries. It is best to avoid saturated fats and get most of your fat calories from monounsaturated fat.
Proteins are building blocks for growth and maintenance of muscle, skin, and energy. Proteins affect blood sugar less than carbohydrates. Foods that contain proteins are meat, poultry, vegetables, fish, soy, and beans, and contain 4 calories per gram. Lean proteins are best as part of your meal plan.
Drinking enough water (6-8 glasses per day) is important for everyone and is part of a well-balanced meal plan.
Digestion works better and you may be healthier when fiber is included in your diet. Including fiber in your meal plan can help to lower cholesterol and may help with weight loss and managing blood sugars in a healthy range. Foods that contain fiber are oat bran, oatmeal, dried beans and peas, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables.
You should discuss alcohol intake with your healthcare team. Alcohol contains calories, but has no nutritional value. It can raise or lower your blood sugar depending upon your diabetes management plan and overall diabetes control. You can include alcohol in your meal plan, but it is best to use alcohol in moderation. It is important to be aware that alcohol can impair your ability to detect hypoglycemia.
Most foods have a “Nutrition Facts” label, which can give you important information. You can see the total number of calories per serving as well as the amount of calories from fat. You can also see information about serving size, salt, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and fiber.