Healthy Eating

  Diabetes Meal Planning: Juliana Burnette, RD, LD, CDE

Healthy Foods

One of the best ways to take control of your diabetes and feel your best is to make smart food choices and control portion sizes.  This doesn't mean "dieting" but making a lifestyle change to healthier food choices and practicing portion control at every meal.  Making a lifestyle change may not seem easy at first, but you will quickly feel the benefits. 

First, set small goals for yourself.  Goal setting is a proven way to achieve desired results.  Goals are simply small steps you take toward something important which you want to achieve.  Make a choice today to begin your journey  toward better health.  Choose to make healthy eating a priority. Plan to meet with a Registered Dietitian or a Certified Diabetes Educator to create a personalized meal plan for you. 

A diabetes meal plan is about smart food choices and managing portion sizes to help control your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. Your personalized plan will also include specific goals about what kinds of food to eat and daily goals for how much food to eat each day. 

Carbohydrates increase your blood glucose (sugar) more than protein and fat in food.  They are also the body's main source of energy.  Carbohydrates enter your blood within a couple of hours after you eat them.  Protein and fats are slower to digest and do not affect the blood glucose as rapidly as carbohydrates.    

Carbohydrates are the starches and sugars that are found in such foods as:

  • grains, breads, cereals, dried beans

  • rice and pasta

  • vegetables such as peas, corn and potatoes

  • fruits and fruit juices

  • milk and yogurt

  • sweets and desserts like candy, regular soda, sugar and syrup

The total number of carbohydrates you should eat at a meal or snack depends on your weight, age, activity level, blood glucose control, blood lipid control and what and how much diabetes medicine you take.   Working with a dietitian can help you learn how much carbohydrate is right for you.   A dietitian can provide an individualized meal plan that meets your energy needs plus helps meet your diabetes management goals. 

Carbohydrate counting is a way to plan what you eat so you will eat similar amounts of carbohydrate at each meal and snack.  This practice helps keep your blood glucose from getting too high or too low.  It doesn't mean you have to eat the same foods every day, just similar types and amounts of food.  Counting your carbohydrates regularly will help you manage your diabetes, feel better more often, and reduce possible complications.  A blood sugar reading of 140 mg/dl or less two hours after you eat is a typical goal, but you should discuss and set up a target range with your Diabetes Care Team.

A diabetes meal plan is about smart food choices and managing portion sizes to help control your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. Your personalized plan will also include specific goals about what kinds of food to eat and daily goals for how much food to eat each day. 

Juliana is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who has received training for weight management, diabetes education and intrinsic coaching. She currently works with individuals who have Pre-Diabetes, Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, as well as Reactive Hypoglycemia and Polycystic Ovarian Disease. She provides individualized diabetes education and assists in interpretation of data from Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems. She has taught heart healthy nutrition classes for individuals receiving cardiac rehab, weight management classes and "light and easy" cooking classes for health conscious individuals or busy families. Her areas of interest include Celiac Disease, Pre-Diabetes, Diabetes Self-Management Training, Weight Management, Cardiovascular Disease, Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Coaching, and Continuous Glucose Monitoring. Her greatest desire is to empower individuals to find SUCCESS as they LIVE with DIABETES. 



Basic Guidelines for Diabetes Meal Planning

Build your meals around healthy, fiber-filled grains, beans and starches

Eat 2-4 servings (1-2 cups) of fruits every day

Eat 3-5 servings (1-2 cups) of non-starchy veggies every day

Include small portions of lean protein (4-6 ounces divided between 2-3 meals)

Eat 2-3 servings (cups) of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods

Eat less saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol

Use fats and oils in small amounts

Small amounts of sweets may be eaten in moderation

Fats and proteins do contain carbohydrates and calories that can cause weight gain

Avoid eating more than your body needs

Eat meals and snacks at regular time every day

Eat 3 balanced meals a day plus snacks if needed

Spread meals out over the day

Eat when you are hungry.  Stop when you are satisfied

Avoid skipping meals

Slow down and enjoy the flavor of each bite of food

Eat a variety of foods

Add lots of color to meals with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies

Watch portion sizes 



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