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Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan
Your diabetes diet is simply a healthy-eating plan that will help you control your blood sugar. Here’s help getting started, from meal planning to counting carbohydrates.
A diabetes diet simply means eating the healthiest foods in moderate amounts and sticking to regular mealtimes.
A diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan that’s naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, a diabetes diet is the best eating plan for most everyone.
Why do you need to develop a healthy-eating plan?
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor will likely recommend that you see a dietitian to help you develop a healthy-eating plan. The plan helps you control your blood sugar (glucose), manage your weight and control heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood fats.
When you eat extra calories and fat, your body creates an undesirable rise in blood glucose. If blood glucose isn’t kept in check, it can lead to serious problems, such as a high blood glucose level (hyperglycemia) that, if persistent, may lead to long-term complications, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage.
You can help keep your blood glucose level in a safe range by making healthy food choices and tracking your eating habits.
For most people with type 2 diabetes, weight loss also can make it easier to control blood glucose and offers a host of other health benefits. If you need to lose weight, a diabetes diet provides a well-organized, nutritious way to reach your goal safely.
What does a diabetes diet involve?
A diabetes diet is based on eating three meals a day at regular times. This helps you better use the insulin that your body produces or gets through a medication.
A registered dietitian can help you put together a diet based on your health goals, tastes and lifestyle. He or she can also talk with you about how to improve your eating habits, such as choosing portion sizes that suit the needs for your size and activity level.
Make your calories count with these nutritious foods. Choose healthy carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods, fish and “good” fats.
During digestion, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) break down into blood glucose. Focus on healthy carbohydrates, such as:
Legumes, such as beans and peas
Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese
Avoid less healthy carbohydrates, such as foods or drinks with added fats, sugars and sodium.
Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Fiber moderates how your body digests and helps control blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include:
Legumes, such as beans and peas
Eat heart-healthy fish at least twice a week. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may prevent heart disease.
Avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury, such as king mackerel.
Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol levels. These include:
Canola, olive and peanut oils
But don’t overdo it, as all fats are high in calories.
Foods to avoid
Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries. Foods containing the following can work against your goal of a heart-healthy diet.