Understanding Diabetes and Adapting to a Diabetic Diet
Knowing how food impacts blood sugars is critical if diagnosed with diabetes. And you may be surprised to find out a diabetic diet does not mean a life of boring food!
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects almost 1 in 10 U.S. adults. It also ranks seventh as the leading cause of death in the United States based on the most current 2015 data.
However, maintaining a balanced diet can be extremely valuable in reducing the risks that come with diabetes. This is because people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, etc.
People tend to envision a bland diet after being diagnosed with diabetes. However, a diabetes meal plan does not translate to a life of boring food!
But how can eating flavorful foods while ensuring proper diabetes management be achieved? BistroMD may just have and be the answer…
What Is Diabetes and What Are the Types?
Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to efficiently use glucose from carbohydrate sources. This is due to the absence or resistance of the hormone insulin.
Insulin is produced by beta cells in the pancreas and can be thought of as a key holder to the cells. It allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter into cells for energy use.
Without insulin or the "key," glucose (the body's primary source of energy) starts to build up in the blood. This is why diabetes is also described as having "high blood glucose" or "high blood sugar."
There are different types of diabetes, including type 1 and 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is another type specific to pregnant women.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 was once previously known as juvenile-onset diabetes. This is because symptoms generally start around childhood.
With type 1, the body's own immune system destroys the body’s cells responsible for producing insulin. Due to the destruction and complete loss of insulin, insulin therapy is required along with careful, close attention and monitoring.
Without close monitoring, type 1 can lead to severe complications and even be fatal.
Type 2 Diabetes
Developing type 2 diabetes is mostly related to insulin resistance, a condition in which cells are namely resistant to insulin. Because insulin is not used effectively, blood sugars start to rise and can lead to diabetes if left unmanaged.
Type 2 diabetes is commonly developed in those carrying excess weight. Being overweight may be due to lifestyle choices such as poor diet and inactivity.
But unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes may be reversed through healthy lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It often disappears following delivery.
However, gestational diabetes can increase the risk of complications to both mom and baby. These include a large birthweight for baby and the risk of high blood pressure for mom. Both are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, too.
Diabetes can be diagnosed based on blood tests, including fasting blood glucose, oral glucose tolerance, and hemoglobin A1C.
Below briefly explains the diagnostic tests and differentiates between normal, prediabetes, and diabetes. Values are indicated as milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) unless noted otherwise:
Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
During this test, you will be in a fasted state, or absent of food intake for eight hours. It is generally performed after an overnight fast.
• Normal: Less than 100, or encouraged to be within 70 and 100
• Prediabetes: 100 to 125
• Diabetes: Greater than 126
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
Also recognized as OGTT, you start by taking the fasting test mentioned above. A sugary, or glucose, beverage will be consumed and a blood test will be taken two hours later.
• Normal: Less than 140
• Prediabetes: 140 to 199
• Diabetes: Greater than 200
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
Hemoglobin A1c is also known as glycated hemoglobin and average blood sugar. HbA1c measures average blood glucose levels up to three months.
• Normal: 5.6% or less
• Prediabetes: 5.7 to 6.4%
• Diabetes: 6.5% or greater on two separate occasions
If diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to work with a doctor, dietitian, and other health experts. Their expertise can help ensure safe and effective diabetes control.
Preventing & Managing Diabetes
Again, type 1 cannot be prevented and insulin injections are warranted. People with type 2, on the other hand, may not require insulin.
Type 2 can be prevented and controlled by exercising regularly, losing weight, and considering other factors. Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is perhaps the most important way to control blood sugars.
Lose and Maintain Weight
Losing weight helps the cells become less resistant to the effects of insulin. Even losing five to 10 percent of body weight can improve blood sugars.
Active muscles help utilize sugar for energy, rather than building up in the bloodstream. Aim for at least 150 minutes of cardio weekly, or at least most days of the week.
Also incorporate two to three strength training sessions and target all major muscle groups. Strength training is helpful for boosting metabolism, therefore assisting in weight management.
Consider Additional Factors
Other effective methods to manage diabetes include sleep hygiene and stress management. Moderating alcohol and smoke cessation is also advised.
While these lifestyle factors are important, adopting a diabetic diet is key for managing blood sugars.
If diagnosed with diabetes, following a diabetic diet can help manage blood sugars, lipids, and weight. About everyone can benefit from a diabetes diet, as it is essentially a healthy eating pattern balanced with nutrient dense-foods.
Key components of a diabetic eating pattern include overall nutrient composition, portions, and meal timing.
A diabetic diet encourages people focus on healthy carbohydrate sources. Healthier carbs include whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes, low-fat milk and dairy products.
A balanced diet should also include lean protein and healthy fat sources. In fact, research in PLOS Medicine found diets rich in monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids can lower blood sugars. They also improved insulin sensitivity compared to diets high in saturated fat and carbohydrate.
All-in-all, consume more or less of these foods:
• Non-starchy veggies
• Fresh fruits
• Whole grains
• Nuts and seeds
• Beans and other legumes
• Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• Vegetable oils such as olive oil
• Refined grains and starches
• Refined and added sugars
• Saturated, animal fats
• Trans fats, which is recommended to be avoided
Portion & Serving Sizes
Meals are advised to contain no more than 60 grams of carbohydrate while snacks should be limited to about 15 grams.
Tried and true portion control tips include using portion control tools and small plates. Drinking more water, having a game plan and practicing mindful eating are also helpful.
Also as another general rule, follow these guidelines to balance a meal plate helpful for managing blood sugars:
• Fill half the meal plate with non-starchy vegetables, including leafy greens and roasted cauliflower.
• Allocate one-quarter of the plate with 3 to 4 ounces of protein such as chicken or fish. Plant-based proteins, including beans, add a punch of fiber.
• Use the remaining quarter for starch and complex carb, including a small sweet potato or brown rice.
• Complement the meal with a healthy fat source. For instance, drizzle olive oil or add chopped nuts to leafy spinach greens.
• Feel free to add a small serving of fruit or sweet treat.
Additional considerations include the timings and portion sizes of meals. Balanced meals and snacks should be consumed about every 3 to 4 hours to best keep blood sugars stabilized.
Also if desiring meal assistance for diabetic management, bistroMD is here to help!
BistroMD Diabetes Diet Menu
BistroMD's Diabetic Meal Program was specifically created to help maintain blood sugar levels and weight. All meals are scientifically-balanced and feature fresh ingredients to create a nutritious, gourmet dining experience. Members also receive ongoing support during every step of their journey!
The Science of BistroMD
Healthy meal plans are backed by science and research of founding weight loss physician Dr. Caroline Cederquist. Dr. Cederquist works with a team of dietitians to ensure nutrient needs for healthy and long-term weight loss are met.
Each meal plan contains 1,100 to 1,400 calories daily. They are also balanced with lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. With the bistroMD diabetic program, meals supply 25 net grams of carbs or less and snacks provide 15 grams or less. All meals and snacks deliver adequate lean protein to regulate blood sugar and keep hunger at bay.
Both men and women options are available, along with specialty diets such as the diabetic program. The diabetic program was created by Dr. Cederquist as a specific response to a real need that diabetic program members expressed.
The entire bistroMD team combines the nutritional requirements of a diabetic diet with the delicious flavors of top-notch cuisine.
A Diabetic Diet Goes Gourmet
So-called "diet" food has always had a bad reputation for being tasteless and undesirable. Not anymore thanks to bistroMD's ongoing effort to make each meal more gourmet than the last. (Even on a diabetic diet plan!)
All bistroMD meals use the freshest of ingredients and flavors to create gourmet, diabetic-friendly meals. What's more, bistroMD features 200 recipes and a customizable menu. Nutritious and delicious menu options include:
• Canadian bacon and Swiss omelet
• Blackened chicken with creamy smoked paprika sauce
• Sliced ham with mustard maple sauce
• Grilled teriyaki salmon
• Lasagna with garden marinara
• Broccoli cheddar stuffed chicken breast
Really with so many food choices, there is always to satisfy personal taste buds and meet individualized goals!
Customized and Flexible Plans
All diet plans and menus are customized by dietitians to meet individualized nutritional needs. Members can also edit weekly menus to accommodate meal preferences.
Have an allergy? Dislike a food? Let bistroMD know and they will happily accommodate!
To honor flexibility in personal schedules, members have the option to choose from various plans. Options include a full 7-day plan of meals, a 5-day lunch and dinner only plan, and somewhere in between.
The 7-day option comes with the MyNight feature. MyNight is a weekly opportunity to have a structured break from the program to enjoy favorite foods and indulgences in moderation.
With bistroMD, never go through this journey alone! bistroMD offers ongoing access to ongoing and endless support and resources.
Members have access to one-on-one support from dietitians and an online community filled with others on similar journeys. Also navigate through an extensive Health Library stocked with healthy nutrition and fitness tips. Weekly program information and newsletters also consists of helpful hints and useful information written by Dr. Cederquist and the bistroMD staff.
Also connect to the entire bistroMD support team. They are there right from the very beginning and more than willing to assist in any and all questions!