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A diabetic meal plan is a healthy eating plan which consists of balance nutrition in the right amount of calorie requirement and the right amount of food types.
The aim of a diabetic meal plan is to help people with diabetes attain quality of life similar to healthy people by:
- making it easier to achieve blood glucose control
- reducing dependency on more diabetic medication or insulin injections
- reducing the risk of complications or hospital admission associated with diabetes
- achieving the same lifespan as normal individuals
Why is diabetic control important?
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Diabetic control is important to prevent the following common complications.
- Peripheral vascular disease of the lower limbs causing ulcers and gangrene of the toes and feet
- Peripheral neuropathy causing numbness and tingling sensation of the toes and fingers
- Blindness due to diabetic retinopathy causing bleeding into the eye. Diabetes is most common cause of blindness in young adults
- Kidney failure. Diabetes is the most common reason why patients are on dialysis
- Heart disease
Why is body weight important in the control of diabetes?
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Being overweight predisposes you to developing diabetes as well as making it harder for you to achieve good diabetic control because
- Fat makes it difficult for insulin to facilitate glucose to get into the muscle efficiently and as a result the glucose remains unused in high levels in the blood stream
- The pancreas then has to work harder to produce more insulin resulting in organ failure after 20-30 years of poor diabetic control
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Losing as little as 5-10% of your weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
What is an ideal Diabetic Meal Plan?
Food is the major influence on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and as such patients must pay attention to the food components (particularly the carbohydrates), amount eaten and timing of each meal every day. Choose foods with lower Glycemic Index (GI) as these foods do not give you a sudden surge in blood glucose after eating.
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GI is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed resulting in big surge in blood sugar levels immediately after a meal. Low GI carbohydrates produce smaller fluctuations and is therefore ideal for diabetic patients.
Examples of Glycemic Index of some common foods
The objective of all diabetic meal plans is to achieve better control of blood sugar levels and needs to be customised with special consideration for the Type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes) Type 2 (non-insulin dependent diabetes) and diabetes during pregnancy.
There is no one perfect meal plan and each plan has to be on trial basis and evaluated and adjusted as necessary. A good diabetic meal plan is one which can help patients manage their blood glucose at normal level AND allow them to enjoy their food.
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Despite being on treatment, it is estimated that over 30% patients DO NOT achieve good glucose pressure control despite being on medication. As such, healthcare practitioners also recommend lifestyle modification which includes 30-60 minutes of exercise daily (click and read article “How Much Should We Exercise Daily”) and self-monitoring. Do consult and connect with your healthcare practitioners such as your doctor, dietician or fitness trainers.
While at home, check your blood glucose regularly and take charge of your health. Do self-monitor your weight and blood sugar on TELEME TrackME Health Tracker mobile app.
References: Malaysians’ Dietitian Association. 2005. Medical nutrition therapy guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes. “Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes”. American Diabetes Association. My Health.