Create a Healthy Meal Plan
Having diabetes does not mean you have to cut out all the foods you love. You can still enjoy food while keeping your diabetes under control. You just need to find ways to lower the fat and sugar content in the dishes you love to cook, and also learn to eat smaller portions. Here are some ways you can make the dishes you love fit into your healthy lifestyle.
1. LOWER THE SUGAR
Use a non-sugar or plant-based sweetener, like stevia, to lower the calorie and carbohydrate content of any recipe. Sugar substitutes or sugar/sweetener mixes can replace sugar cup for cup. Other substitutes might be sweeter than sugar and should be used in smaller amounts. Read the label on the package to learn how much sweetener to use in place of sugar.
2. LOWER THE SALT
If you want to limit your sodium intake, cut the amount of salt in your recipe in half. You can also skip the salt altogether and use a salt-free seasoning, herbs, lemon juice or veggies such as onions, peppers or garlic to flavor your foods. If you are using a sauce, use a low-salt canned alternative. Better yet, make the sauce yourself so you can control the amount of salt you use.
3. LOWER THE FAT
You can lower the amount of fat in your foods by using part-skim and low-fat products such as low-fat milk or cheese. If you have a dish that calls for whole milk, use skim or low-fat milk instead. Here are other ways to cut fat content in foods:
- Use smaller portions of full-fat preparations.
- Bake, grill, or broil meats, or pan-fry foods using fat-free cooking spray.
- Steam veggies and flavor them with herbs and spices instead of butter.
- Replace eggs in recipes with egg whites only (the fat in eggs comes from the yolk).
- Use unsweetened applesauce in place of butter or oil in recipes for baked goods like cakes and muffins.
4. INCREASE THE FIBER
Fiber is not digested by the body. It slows the movement through your digestive tract to help you absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. Fiber also helps keep blood glucose levels stable. By keeping you feeling full longer, fiber helps you eat smaller portions and keep your body weight in check. Fiber is found in many foods, including:
- fresh fruits and veggies
- whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, popcorn, and whole-grain breads and cereals
- some nuts and seeds
- dry beans
Here are a few ways to add more fiber to your dishes:
- Use brown rice or whole-grain pasta instead of refined white rice or pasta products.
- Add uncooked quick oats, wheat germ, bran or shredded veggies to your meatloaf or meatball dishes.
- Use veggies to add volume and flavor to sauces.
- Add diced fruit to oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or cottage cheese.
Be sure to increase your fiber intake in small steps to give your body time to get used to the extra bulk. Also, drink plenty of fluids when you are eating fiber. Stay active to help move things along down the digestive tract!
5. REDUCE YOUR PORTION SIZE
During meal and snack time, use measuring cups and spoons to help control the portions you eat. After a while, you will get used to the proper portion sizes and be able to “eyeball it,” or measure without using measuring tools. It may also help to use a smaller plate. A small plate that is crowded with food looks more satisfying than a larger plate with little food on it. By making yourself feel less deprived, you will find it easier to stick to your healthy eating plan. Some portion size basics are:
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ cup rice or pasta
- ½ cup diced fruit
- ½ cup starchy vegetable, like potatoes or corn
- 1 cup salad greens or non-starchy vegetable like green beans, broccoli, or spinach
- 1 ounce sliced or cubed cheese, or ¼ cup shredded cheese
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
6. MOVE MORE
Moving more can help your body burn more calories, which means you can eat a little bit more of the foods you love while keeping your weight on target. Staying active isn’t hard. Try to:
- Walk more throughout the day and take the stairs whenever you have the chance.
- Park your car further away from where you need to go.
- Walk the dog.
- Do work around your yard or house.
- Walk in place or around the room while watching TV.
- Sign up for a dance class.
- Ride a bike.
- Join a swim class.
It is best to make exercise fun so that you will be more likely to stick with it.