Diabetes is a disease that affects how a person’s body uses blood sugar or glucose. The body relies on glucose to obtain energy to function properly. But not everyone’s body manages the process well.
Usually, the stomach changes food into glucose and from there glucose enters the bloodstream. At the same time, the body depends on the pancreas to create insulin to move the glucose into cells. Picture billions of cells locked together. The primary key that unlocks those cells is insulin. If little or no insulin enters the bloodstream, glucose builds up, leading to diabetes.
Three main types of diabetes exist. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which case the pancreas stops producing enough insulin for survival. Type 2 diabetes signifies cells either have become stubborn, resistant to insulin or the pancreas is not producing enough insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs in women of reproductive age due to changing hormones when pregnant. The condition usually ends for the mother after the child’s birth. However, women who develop gestational diabetes are at a higher risk to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
Balancing diet, exercise and medication all play a role in opening these locked cells. Anytime the body is in motion, the cells open up. In addition, slimming down, even by five or 10 pounds, makes the cells more accessible to insulin.
A balanced diet refers to the amount of nutrients, like carbohydrates, protein and fat, that a person consumes. When reading a food label, a single serving of carbohydrate equals 15 grams of that nutrient. Women need three to four servings of carbohydrates at each meal while men need four to five servings. When reading a food label, remember to look at what a serving size represents. It is also important to review the label’s total carbohydrates in a food because carbohydrates contain sugar. The total carbohydrates line item includes the grams of sugar in the total count.
Fiber in a person’s diet is extremely important for helping to manage glucose levels. The more fiber people eat, the more they will notice a difference in their glucose readings. The number of grams of fiber should be anywhere between 25 and 35. It also is important to drink plenty of water to ensure everything clears through the system.
In addition, be aware that sugar free does not mean carbohydrate or calorie free. Compare a regular oatmeal cookie to a sugar-free oatmeal cookie. One regular cookie contains 17 grams of carbohydrates (including 9 grams of sugar) and 100 calories, where as the one sugar-free cookie has 16 grams of carbohydrates (including 8 grams of sugar alcohol) and 110 calories.
It is recommended to eat meals following the Plate Method. This replaced the food pyramid, with the philosophy that during a meal half the plate should be non starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate should be 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat and the other quarter of the plate should be carbohydrates.
Centegra Home Meals follow the Plate Method. These meals are fresh and made with high-quality ingredients. More than 60 meal choices are health specific, including diabetes friendly meals, and catered to a person’s needs. Visit centegrahealthyliving.com to learn more.
Jinger Christal, RDN, LDN is a Diabetes Educator at the Centegra Healthy Living Institute.