The Importance of an Individual Meal Plan for Diabetes
In spite of the wide prevalence of diabetes in India, the fact is that diabetes can be prevented and in cases where a person already has it, it can be controlled and the person can lead a happy life. All it takes is the right guidance and information regarding the condition.
To achieve a good control over diabetes, we not only have to follow the medicines as advised by the doctor but more importantly, we have to follow the recommended diet plan. The more control we have over what we eat, more will be the control over our sugar level.
There is an old saying which tells us that when we eat nutritious food, that is all the medicine we need. This saying is true even today, especially for patients with a diabetic condition.
Also Read: 6 Complications of Uncontrolled Diabetes
One Size Does Not Fit All
There is no one meal plan that will work for all patients. Meals plans are customized taking into account many factors. Some of these factors include:
- The weight of the person.
- The amount of physical activity done.
- The amount of activity their job involves – a person who is moving around a lot will need a different diet plan compared to a person who has a desk job.
Thus, every person needs an individualized diet plan.
The Basics of an Individualized Meal Plan
- We start with the individual’s weight as the base line.
- For every kg of weight, 20-30 kcal are allotted.
- Usually this will work out to 1500-1800 kcal for a woman, and for a man it would be 2000-2500 kcal a day.
- If the person is overweight and reduction in weight has been recommended, then the calorie allotted will reduce further.
Timing the Meals
Normally, we have 3 meals a day. But for a person with diabetes, 5 meals a day is recommended i.e., 3 main meals with 2 snacks in between. There are 2 reasons for this kind of break-up.
- The blood sugar level after a meal is called the post prandial blood sugar.
- This is usually elevated after a meal.
- If this goes too high it can lead to complications.
- So, to prevent this, we distribute the food intake over 5 meals instead of 3.
- This ensures control of post prandial sugar.
Another important reason is that it prevents the sugar from going too low which is also a condition we should guard against.
- When medication is used to control diabetes, it prevents the blood sugar level from rising.
- However, a large time interval without food like between breakfast and lunch will make the sugar level drop very low. This has to be avoided.
- For this, a snack mid-morning (around 11 am), will keep the sugar level from going too low.
- Sometimes, some patients feel faint when they wake up early in the morning. In such cases, an early morning snack can also be had.
Thus, the number of meals can be 3 main meals with 2 snacks as already mentioned, or when the patient is not comfortable with that, 3 main meals with 3 snacks is also fine.
Also Read: 5 Easy Ways to control diabetes without medication
Sample Meal Plan
A balanced plate of food will contain 40-50% carbohydrates, 25-30% proteins and 20-25% fats. This kind of break-up will ensure that a person gets all the necessary nutrients from the meal.
Given below is a sample diet plan which explains what are the foods to have and to avoid. The preferable timing of each meal is also given.
Early Morning 6 am:
- Tea or coffee – the milk used should not be thick.
- The beverage should be consumed without sugar.
- If there is any skin on the milk, it has to be removed.
- Skimmed milk or milk that is low in fat (which does not stick to the sides of the glass) can be had.
- With the beverage, wheat rusk, wheat bread or wheat biscuits can be had – around 2 (in number) of any one of the aforementioned solids is advised.
Breakfast 8-9 am:
For breakfast, any of the following South Indian foods can be had:
- Wheat Upma
Chutney – Any chutney (50 g) that doesn’t contain coconut is fine.
Sambar – Around 100 ml can be had.
The quantity of idli, idiappam, etc. is 3.
Mid-morning 10-11 am:
- Any soup can be had – veg soup, greens soup, dhal soup or even buttermilk.
- The only juice permitted is lime juice with limited salt.
- Around 100 g of fruits can be had – salads for this time are not recommended.
- Fruits like apples, oranges, pomegranates, guavas, gooseberries and pears are allowed.
Lunch 1-2 pm:
- White rice/red rice/chapathi are all fine.
- Sambar/rasam/buttermilk can be had.
- One form of vegetable like poriyal is advised.
- Once a week, a chicken or fish gravy can be had. Fried versions are not recommended.
- 3 eggs a week in the boiled form without the yolk can be consumed.
Mid-evening 4-5 pm:
- Vegetable soup or milk with sundal or sprouts can be had.
- The quantity of the sundal/sprouts is around 50 g which is roughly one handful.
Dinner 8-9 pm:
- Wheat dosai/ragi adai/ragi dosai/wheat upma/wheat chapathi – 3 in number.
- Accompaniment can be a vegetable gravy, chutney without coconut or sambar.
This kind of a diet plan will give the body around 1500 kcal. It also has the required amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the right proportion. This simple and tasty diet plan is not only nutritious but also keeps the sugar level under control.
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- Jan 11, 2023