As part of our mission to provide useful information on various aspects of life, we are presenting the following diabetes articles to our respected members and our noble readers.
To facilitate reading these articles for our readers, also, we have collated these article on a single page with a well-designed table of content.
A Diabetic Diet for Vegetarians
If you are a vegetarian who has been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still maintain your diabetic diet. In some cases a vegetarian diet may be a healthy way to keep your blood glucose levels stable – that is if you are eating lean high-quality proteins and are following other rules for eating as a diabetic.
As a lot of vegans and vegetarians eat a larger amount of fruits and vegetables in a day than a non-vegetarian and their fiber intake is much higher too. An increased amount of fiber in a diabetic’s diet can help blood sugars because it slows down the process of the body digesting carbohydrates. A vegetarian’s diet is usually lower in cholesterol as well and it can help ward off cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes.
If you are diabetic and are considering a switch to a diabetic diet some of the benefits you might derive include a higher rate of weight loss and better blood sugar readings. This is dependant on the types of vegetarian meals you choose as some meatless meals can be just as fattening as ones that contain meat.
Speak to your doctor and dietician before making the switch. You will need information on how to transition yourself to your new diet. You will also get a list of meat alternatives you should eat in order to get enough protein in a day. These can include tofu, nuts, eggs, and seeds.
As with any change, once you switch to a vegetarian diet give yourself and your body time to adjust. There are many recipes and ideas for vegetarian dishes and you will find a lot of variety and flexibility in the meals that you prepare. Check your blood sugars frequently to make sure your blood glucose levels remain stable during the change.
A DNA Link between Diabetes and Obesity
There is no known reason for what causes diabetes. There are certainly risk factors that make the likelihood of you being diagnosed with the disease higher. One of the only risk factors that you have control over is your weight. If you are obese, the single best thing you can do for your health and the prevention of diabetes is to lose weight. Even in small increments, when you shed pounds you are increasing your health benefits.
These may be easier said than done. There are new studies that are now showing that there is a genetic factor or mutation for people who are obese and have diabetes. This genetic malfunction affects how the bodies use energy and insulin – two key elements in the functioning of your body and the cause of diabetes and obesity.
The studies also state that this is not a cause and effect case. If you carry this defective gene you are not guaranteed to be obese or have diabetes. But the link is there and it can be prevented. You may have to work harder at it than others to maintain a healthy body weight and put off diabetes but it can be done. Discuss with your doctor options and ways to prevent or put-off the onset of diabetes.
The gene that researchers have discovered as a precursor to diabetes has been found in young children. It is scary to know that children in their preschool years are being diagnosed with obesity and type 2 diabetes due to genetics. But parents can reduce or prevent these things from happening by giving their children healthy lifestyle choices. Now that a DNA link has been found, the research can focus on finding a way to fix or prevent this from happening at some point in the future.
A Healthy BMI for Diabetics
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that is based on your height and weight to determine if you are underweight, an ideal weight, overweight, or obese. The test is an indication of the total body fat that you are carrying around. The number ranges are fairly accurate but there are some circumstances when the calculations may not be 100% true. As these results are purely based on numbers, you should take the number you are given and discuss other contributing factors with your doctor (such as muscle weight or body type considerations).
A BMI of 30 or over is considered obese. The higher end of the scale for overweight people (25 – 29.9) and people that fall into the obese category are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Other danger indicators are waist circumferences. If you are a man and your waist measures 40 inches or more and if you are a woman and your waist measures 35 inches or more, there is an increased abdominal fat risk factor for diabetes and other diseases.
Maintaining a healthy BMI is all about being at a weight that is right for your height and body type. Both of these goals will bring many more benefits than just better-controlled blood glucose levels. You will also have increased energy, can reduce the amount of insulin you are on, and give yourself a longer life expectancy.
Reduce your total body fat to bring your BMI into a healthy range (18.5-24.9). Consult your doctor and get advice on how to meet your goals. And if you are just starting an exercise routine, get the okay from your doctor first. You do not want to overtax yourself at the beginning and your doctor may have some restrictions for you to ensure you do not suffer from injury or hypoglycemia.
Adjusting your Diabetic Diet for Special Occasions
Birthday parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more are holidays and special occasions that are centered on food. For most people, these are times to anticipate the celebration and the eating. For a diabetic it can be a stressful time, you want to partake in all of the good food too but most times it is not made with a diabetic in mind. If the frequency of these events is not too often, you can adjust your diet for special occasions so you too can have some of the treats available.
The hardest part about preparing for a special occasion is if you do not know what is going to be served. If this is the case, a quick call to your host or hostess can be made. Most people will not mind you asking especially if you have dietary needs that need to be taken into consideration. Once you do know what is being served, plan your meals for that day accordingly. You may want to have fewer carbohydrates with your breakfast and snack to make up for the extra ones you will have at a birthday party where pizza is being served.
Another option for special occasions is to offer to bring a dish for everyone to share. Make it something that you enjoy as a treat but still follows the guidelines for your diabetic diet.
For family favorites and traditions, be creative and look for ways to make the same dishes with less fat or sugar. You can do this by substituting regular sugar with sugar substitutes or choose whole wheat flour instead of white for the extra fiber content.
During the holidays and other occasions, closely monitor your blood sugars. Even with extra care, the change in your diet can still result in a blood sugar that is too high or low.
Artificial Sweeteners for Diabetics
The food industry has come up with a solution for people on diets or with diabetes that have a sweet tooth. They are known as artificial sweeteners and they are used in everything from chewing gum, coffee sweeteners, and even baking. There is some controversy over the use of them as some of them are totally synthetic and others are derived from the actual sugar plant. But to a diabetic who doesn’t want to give up on their favorite pop or chewing gum, they can be a life-saver.
The four different kinds of artificial sweeteners are saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium. Each of these types can be found under various product names and brands. Not all are made the same way and they have different uses. Some you can buy in liquid or powdered form for baking needs and others like aspartame is only found in foods that you purchase pre-made.
The use of these artificial sweeteners will not raise blood sugar and are safe for a diabetic to use. Care and attention is still needed because the food items you put sugar in or on most likely will have an effect on your blood sugar. Still, follow your diabetic diet but use some artificial sweeteners to make it a little sweeter.
Some diabetics may want to use honey as a substitute for sugar. You certainly can make this substitution, however, honey is very similar to sugar in carbohydrate content and the effects it will have on your blood glucose level. It is best to enjoy honey in small moderations if at all.
Aspartame has been linked in some medical studies with Alzheimer’s disease. Speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of using any of the artificial sweeteners if you have any concerns about the potential health risks.
Benefits of a Healthy Diabetic Diet
Benefits of eating a healthy diet are for everyone but for a diabetic, there can be even more reasons to follow a nutritious meal plan. Keeping a stable blood glucose level is the biggest reason for a diabetic to follow a diabetic diet. It takes commitment and patience to stick with the diet and plan out all meals each week. But the more that it is done the easier it will become.
Another benefit of eating a healthy diabetic diet is reducing the amount of insulin that is needed. By eating good carbohydrate choices and lean meats you will lower the insulin requirements for your body. The foods you eat all affect your blood sugars and when you do not choose the best foods for your body it will need more insulin to process them. In addition to extra insulin requirements, you will suffer from high blood sugars also known as hyperglycemia. This condition can have serious long-term effects on your body and its organs.
By continuing with a healthy diet and combining it with regular exercise you can lose excess body weight. This too is good for your insulin requirements and blood glucose levels. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine you can give your body’s metabolism a boost and help it process the foods you are eating. When the foods you take in are healthy choices your body is going to function better.
If you do not follow a healthy diet you can suffer from:
* Low blood sugar from not eating enough – hyperglycemia * High blood sugar from eating too much or eating the wrong foods – hypoglycemia * Gain weigh and in turn increase your daily insulin requirement * Lack the energy needed to exercise on a regular basis
Eating well can help control your diabetes and prolong your life expectancy.
Benefits of the Carbohydrate Counting Diet
The carbohydrate counting diet groups foods into three main groups: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You dietician will provide you with the number of carbohydrates you can have in a day and how that is divided up amongst your meals and snacks. Your dietician will also educate you on how you can determine the numbers of carbohydrates are in some of your favorite foods by reading food labels.
The biggest benefit of the carbohydrate counting diet is that it does not eliminate any foods. A diabetic can choose any food they wish to eat as long as they only eat enough of it to meet their carbohydrate needs. The trick to this is to choose wholesome foods that will fill you up longer. The same amounts of carbohydrates that are in a small handful of potato chips are not equal to the two slices of bread you can have instead. But it is nice to know that if you really want to – once in a while – you can treat yourself.
Another benefit is keeping a consistent amount of carbohydrates in your body. This can help regulate your insulin needs and control. If your body has the same amount of carbohydrates to process at the same times each day it will be beneficial to your health and blood glucose readings.
When you choose a carbohydrate counting diet it is important to make sure you are doing it correctly. If you don’t you can too much or too little and both situations can be detrimental to your diabetes. Have a dietician teach you how to properly count carbohydrates and closely monitor your blood sugar levels to make sure the diet it working for you.
As with any new diet, give it time for you to adjust and learn how to plan your meals properly.
Benefits of the Exchange Diet
The exchange diet is one that allows you to pick and choose the foods you eat from each of the six food groups based on portion sizes. When you begin eating with this diet, it may seem like a lot of work but as you get used to the portions sizes and the common substitutions that you make it will get easier.
One of the benefits of the exchange diet it the flexibility you have in your meal planning. As long as you are eating the correct number of exchanges from each food group you will maintain better control of your blood glucose levels.
If you get bored quite easily by eating the same food day in and day out, the exchange diet might be for you. There are endless possibilities to combine different foods together at meal times. You can have broccoli for dinner three nights in a row but make it a completely different meal each time. One night you can have one small potato, ½ cup of steamed broccoli and a one ounce beef chop; the second night have ½ cup of cooked pasta tossed with ½ cup of broccoli and one ounce of cooked chicken; and the third night try 1/3 cup of rice mixed with ½ cup of broccoli and one ounce of lean ground beef.
The exchange diet also takes the guesswork out of meal planning for diabetics. It is laid out in a very straightforward and easy to understand manner. If there are foods that you cannot find on the exchange list given to you by your dietician, call and find out which group it belongs too and what a proper portion size is.
At first, you should weigh and measure your foods to ensure you are using the proper amounts but as time passes you will be able to do this by sight.
Carbohydrate Counting Diet
Carbohydrates a very big impact on blood glucose levels as they are converted to sugar by the body in the process of turning the food into energy. Too many carbohydrate servings can increase blood sugar levels. It is important for a diabetic to control the number of carbohydrates that are eaten at each meal and balance the carbohydrates with protein while limiting fat intake.
In this type of meal plan, foods are grouped into three different categories: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The majority of foods that you eat contain carbohydrates and this will be the largest food group. Foods in this group include:
* Grains – bread, crackers, rice, cereal, pasta * Dairy – milk, yogurt * Vegetables that are considered starchy – corn, peas, and potatoes * The rest of the vegetable family * Fruit, including fruit juices * Desserts and other treats – chosen in limited amounts
This diet will require you to measure your foods for serving sizes and read food labels to determine how many servings are carbohydrates it should be counted as. It is standard to consider 15 grams of carbohydrates as one serving. For instance, if you are having crackers as a snack and are allowed one serving of carbohydrates you would look at the food label to figure out how many crackers you can have. If the serving size is 20 crackers and that equals 30 grams of carbohydrates, for a diabetic that would be considered two servings. In this example, you would half the serving size and eat 10 crackers to equal 15 grams of carbohydrates.
After some time and experience, you will become adept at counting carbohydrates and knowing what foods work well with your blood glucose levels and what ones don’t. No two diabetics respond the same way to every food, you will need to learn what your own ideal diabetic diet is.
Childhood Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
When a child is diagnosed with diabetes it is commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes or type 1 diabetes. This type of diabetes is not related to a child’s lifestyle, it is an autoimmune disease that results in the need for insulin injections for food to be turned into energy properly. In recent years there has been an increased number of children that have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is an alarming trend and one that can be mitigated because the link between children and type 2 diabetes is childhood obesity.
As it is fairly new that children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes there isn’t a lot of information or studies on it presently. But what is known is that parents need to take action immediately. Once a child has been diagnosed at an older age there isn’t much that can be done except to manage the disease. But if a younger child is obese and makes healthy lifestyle changes that result in weight loss there is a chance that type 2 diabetes can be avoided.
Some of the early warning signs that your child may have diabetes include:
* A sudden increase in thirst that appears to never be satiated * An increased need to urinate * Dark patches on the skin – usually found in the folds of the skin, around the neck or around the eyes
As there are many other diseases and complications that can arise if your child is obese it is best to seek medical help for your child. Between you and your health care professional, a plan can be made and put into place that will start your child on the road to a healthier weight and a more active lifestyle. Your child may be resistant at first but by involving them in the process and persistence the changes can be made.