Figuring out what to eat with Type 2 Diabetes can be a challenge! The Diabetes Plate can help you quickly and easily plan your meals.
You are probably wondering what you can and can’t eat to lower and control your blood sugars. You might be finding this confusing, frustrating and overwhelming! As well, everyone has an opinion – your friends, your family and your next-door neighbor! The diabetes plate method is a quick and easy tool to make meal planning a cinch.
Eating should be pleasurable! Even though you have Type 2 Diabetes, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite foods! Learn the basics of healthy eating with Type 2 Diabetes so you can eat the foods you love. And lower your blood sugars!
So, let’s take a look at the different types of food and the impact they will have on your blood sugars. And then we'll get into the diabetes plate method in more detail.
Foods that contain carbohydrates are digested into sugar. The sugar then enters your bloodstream. Some sugar in your blood is good – it provided the cells in your body with energy!
Insulin produced by your body helps the blood sugar enter your cells. With diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin or your cells may be resistant to insulin. As a result, your blood sugars may get too high.
Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods and foods with sugar. The sugar can be natural sugars or sugar that has been added to a food product.
Carbohydrates are found in the following foods:
- Starchy foods like potatoes, rice, bread, corn, and pasta
- Foods that contain natural sugars like milk and fruit
- Foods that contain added sugars such as candies, cakes, soda pop
Protein, Fiber, and Fat
Protein, fiber, and fat don’t contain carbohydrates. They have very little impact on your blood sugars. In fact, they can help lower your blood sugar peaks!
When you eat protein, fiber, and fat with your meals and snacks, they will slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. This will help lower your blood sugar peak after meals.
Include lean meats like chicken or lean ground beef and meal alternatives like beans, peas, and lentils (bonus, these meat alternatives are also high in fiber!). Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables also are great sources of fiber.
The Diabetes Plate Method
The diabetes plate method is a great meal planning tool. It helps you control your carbohydrates. It also helps ensure that you get enough protein, fiber, and fat.
The plate method of meal planning helps you include the right amount of carbs in your meals. It helps you choose portion sizes that will help you control your blood sugars.
The diabetes plate will provide approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Carb Counting is another meal planning tool.
Filling Your Plate
- Choose a 9-inch plate (many plates are much larger than this!)
- Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables
- Fill 1/4 of your plate with lean protein like meat, fish, chicken or pulses (beans, chickpeas or lentils)
- Fill 1/4 of your plate with starchy foods such as bread, rice or pasta. Starchy vegetables that should be in this part of the plate included potatoes and corn.
- Add milk (1 cup of milk or ¾ cup of plain yogourt is a serving)
- Finish with a small serving of fruit
Double Check that You Included Enough Protein, Fiber, and Fat
Protein, fiber and fat help control your blood sugar spikes. As well, protein, fiber, and fat have the added bonus of keeping you full longer! Aiming to fill your plate half full of vegetables will add lots of fiber. This will fill you up so you feel satisfied with your meal. Meats and alternatives and fats digest slower than carbohydrates. They also help keep you feeling full longer.
Make Sure You are Having Regular Meals and Snacks
Are you skipping breakfast and eating a small lunch? If you are, you probably find yourself ravenous by late afternoon or supper.
If you spread your food out throughout the day, your body will get a steady stream of food digested. This will prevent large blood sugar spikes. If you eat a large evening meal and snack into the evening, your blood sugar will spike in the evening.
Tips for Timing Your Meals and Snacks
- Eat 3 meals spaced no more than 4-5 hours apart throughout the day
- Include snacks, especially a mid-afternoon snack to stave of hunger before supper
- Include a small amount of protein like cheese or nuts if you eat fruit as a snack
Watch Your Beverages
Beverages can be a sneaky source of fast-acting sugar. Soda pop is well-known to be high in sugar, but you need to be careful with other beverages like smoothies, and fruit juice (this includes 100% fruit juices). Even milk can be a culprit if your drinking glasses are larger than 1 cup.
The amount of sugar in beverages can be surprising! Even 100% fruit juices are packed with natural sugar that can have the same amount of sugar as soda pop. A 591ml bottle of soda pop has approximately 12-13 tsp of sugar. A similar size bottle of orange or apple juice also has about 12-13 tsp of sugar!
Avoid The Beverage Sugar Blast
- Drink water to quench your thirst. If you don’t like plain water, try having lemon-infused water.
- Eat fruit whole instead of drinking fruit juice. This takes longer for your body to break down into sugar as it is a solid form and has that all-important fiber!
- If you drink soda pop, choose a diet version. While fears about artificial sweeteners are rampant, the evidence doesn’t support that they are harmful when used in moderation.
- Check how much your normal household drinking glasses hold. Many of our household glasses are 12 or 16 oz., or even larger. You might need to switch to smaller glasses to help you control your portion size.
So now you have the basics of healthy eating with Type 2 Diabetes and you can get back to enjoying what you eat!