Planning healthy and delicious diabetic menus
An eating plan that includes an array of different foods isn't just more interesting, it's more nutritionally sound. Compared to bland diabetic menus that include the same few foods over and over, one that includes different foods at each meal and from day to day provides more nutrients. For example, eating green beans as your veggie every day, would certainly provide to you the vitamins found in green beans, but, if instead you ate green beans one day, carrots the next, broccoli the next, and so on, you'd get the vitamins and minerals found in several veggies, not just one. In addition, a varied diet is more likely to be followed long term because it helps prevent boredom.
First, keep in mind when planning how your day will look, food-wise, you should go no longer than 3 to 4 waking hours without eating. This helps prevent you from getting overly hungry which can lead to poor food choices and can lead to overeating. Another tip from Victoria Shanta Retelny, a registered dietitian and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods, is "Balance your plate with half veggies and fruits, a quarter lean protein, and other quarter whole grains." Now, here are some specifics for creating diabetic menus.
Guide to creating diabetic menus
Not only is breakfast the first chance in the day to eat, it's a great opportunity to get your first doses of calcium and fiber. Typical breakfast foods are loaded with these nutrients -- think whole grain cereal and whole grain breads; fruit; and skim or 1% milk and yogurt. A healthy breakfast should be based on one food from each of those three groups, and as a bonus you could add lean protein -- think nuts, peanut butter, eggs; and/or veggies in an omelet or smoothie.
Retelny suggests, "1 cup oats cooked with skim milk + handful of almonds, walnuts or pistachios + 1/2 cup strawberries or blueberries OR whole grain toast + almond butter + all fruit spread + Greek yogurt OR two whole grain waffles + blueberries + 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup + a cup of skim milk."
Come mid-day, lean protein foods such as eggs, tuna, and turkey breast; veggies; and whole grains are the stars of the show with some fruit and low fat dairy to wash things down. Use the basic balanced plate idea to create a satisfying noon meal with those staple food groups.
Retelney offers these ideas, "Two slices of whole grain bread + 3 oz. turkey bread + 2 slices avocado + lettuce and tomato OR whole grain wrap + chicken salad (made with sliced onions, cherry tomatoes (diced) low-fat yogurt + Dijon mustard) and lettuce and tomato OR a large bowl of raw salad veggies (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peppers, and more, topped with a hard boiled egg and a drizzle of reduced fat salad dressing, along with a small whole grain pita or whole grain crackers on the side."
And of course round out the meal with a serving of fresh fruit and a glass of skim milk.
The balanced plate is back one last time with lean protein, whole grains, and veggies stealing the show. Retelney recommends, "3 to 4 oz. chicken breast, grilled + 1 cup steamed veggies + 1/2 to 1 cup brown rice + sliced fruit + 1/2 cup plain yogurt OR swap grilled salmon or tuna for chicken + broccoli + couscous OR 1 cup whole grain pasta topped with marinara sauce + a cup of a garden salad with a drizzle of reduced fat salad dressing + a cup of skim milk .
And last but certainly not least, snacks. Snacking is crucial when creating diabetic menus. A healthy snack between meals can help keep blood sugar levels steady vs. the lows and highs that can occur when you go too long between meals and then overeat because you're so hungry. "Snacks should be about 150 to 200 calories and include protein and fiber," according to Retelney.
Some examples are, a handful of almonds + plain yogurt + small fruit; 6 whole grain crackers + low-fat cheese + cucumber slices; 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter + 1 small (not overly ripe) banana.
Interview with Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD, Livingwellcommunications.com
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