In this article, we will discuss a “Type 1 Diabetes Meal Plan.”
We will learn about what a Type 1 diet is and why it is an important part of proper Diabetes Management.
It is necessary for Type 1 Diabetics to frequently monitor blood glucose levels daily.
Without proper diet, exercise, and insulin injections Diabetics could experience various complications such as:
- vision problems
- Increased risk of heart disease or stroke due to high blood pressure
- kidney damage
- nerve damage
- skin sores and infections that take longer to heal
Let’s begin by taking a look at…
What is a Type 1 Diet
A Type 1 Diabetic Meal Plan is designed to provide maximum nutrition while also monitoring the intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
The reality is that while there is no universal Type 1 Diet, it is essential to be mindful of the foods you eat and the dosage of insulin is directly dependent upon the amounts of carbohydrates eaten.
It is important to try to stay away from fast foods as these offer significantly lower nutritional value.
Try to incorporate plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Stocking up on healthy foods can prevent snacking on high sugar, low nutrition foods.
Shortly after the initial diagnosis, you will work closely with your doctor and a dietitian to determine the best foods and portion sizes for you.
You will also determine your level of exercise, insulin dosage, and the times of your meals.
Everything needs to work together for you to be able to maintain your blood sugar within the target range as established by your doctor.
The key is consistency:
- don’t skip meals
- try to have meals at the same time each day
- always read food labels
According to Diabetes Canada, regular physical activity improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps manage your blood sugar levels.
It stands to reason that exercise should be a regular part of every day whether you are diabetic or not.
It is also important to work with your doctor to determine the best insulin therapy for you.
The two types of insulin typically used are:
- bolus, your doctor will determine your insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio (how many grams of carbs are covered by 1 unit of insulin)
- basal, this is a background insulin dose that replaces insulin overnight, when you are fasting or between meals.
Diet, exercise, and insulin all work together in helping achieve target blood glucose levels and lowering the risk of Diabetic complications.
Stocking the Pantry
The three types of carbohydrates are:
- and fiber
Beans, starchy vegetables, fruit, pasta, rice, and bread are the commonly known forms of carbohydrates.
Some forms of carbohydrate will act on the sugar more quickly than others which makes monitoring your intake of not only how many carbs but also what type of carbs essential.
If you are experiencing low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) eating a fast-acting carbohydrate will help those levels rise.
Start with about 15 grams to start then test blood sugar in about 15 minutes, if it isn’t rising try another 15 grams and test again in 15 minutes.
Some example of fast-acting carbohydrates would be:
- 1/4 cup fruit juice
- 1 small fresh fruit (4 ounces)
- 4 -6 crackers
- 2 Tbsp raisins
- 1 tbsp honey
Fruits contain natural sugars and should be counted as carbs. You can eat either fresh or frozen.
In time, you will get to understand how many carbs are in different fruits.
Examples of 15 grams of fruit:
- 1/2 cup of canned fruit
- 1/4 cup of dried fruit
- 1 small fresh fruit
- 3 ounces of grapes
- 1 cup of melon or berries
- 1/2 cup of fruit juice
Some vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and beans contain starch which is a form of sugar. Starchy vegetables contain more carbohydrates than other vegetables. Eat starchy vegetables in moderation and account for them when calculating your carbohydrate intake.
Examples of starchy vegetables that contain15 grams of carbs:
- 3 ounces of a baked potato
- 1/2 cup of corn
- 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes or boiled potatoes
- 1/2 cup of peas
- 1/2 cup of winter squash
Non-starchy vegetables are considered “free” and you can have as much as 3 cups without having a major impact on your blood sugars.
Non-starchy vegetables include:
- green leafy vegetables
Always select fresh or frozen vegetables without sauces.
Whole grains are a fibrous and nutritious starch. It is recommended that at least 50% of all grains eaten be whole. Sources of whole grains would include:
- brown rice
- bran cereal
- whole-grain bread
Be sure to read labels and be mindful of the amount eaten at one time and be sure to counter with insulin.
Proteins and Fats:
Proteins are very important for maintaining muscle mass and healing wounds.
Proteins are found in:
- and meats
Healthy fats include:
- and seeds
Even though proteins and fats won’t directly raise your blood sugar, experts recommend that you limit your intake of processed or fatty meats because they contain higher levels of saturated fat and sodium.
While proteins and fats have no direct effect on blood sugar, eating too much of them can have harmful health effects, especially heart disease.
Know When to Eat
Knowing when to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat.
Blood sugar is easier to manage when you eat regular meals and have healthy snacks between meals.
Work with your doctor and a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to calculate your insulin needs in relation to your carbohydrate intake.
This will help you avoid blood sugar highs and lows.
Eating a healthy breakfast can raise your blood sugars after a good night’s sleep.
It is a good idea to keep fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other foods that are easy to take with you on hand so you can just grab and go.
Physical exercise can lower blood sugar. Be sure to test blood glucose levels before exercise and have fast-acting carbs on hand in case of a low.
A “Type 1 Diabetes Meal Plan” will make your daily struggle of maintaining target blood sugar levels so much easier.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes creates the necessity to be more mindful of what you eat and how foods affect your body.
Each person’s body reacts differently which is why it is so important to work closely with your health care team.
Together you will create a meal plan that works for you.
Following a Type 1 Diabetes Meal Plan in combination with regular exercise and insulin injections will help minimize the risk of serious complications.
It doesn’t mean you can never have cakes cookies or fast food, just have those in moderation for a rare treat.
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