Diabetics are now frequently told that they do not require a special diet, they just have to eat the same healthy diet as other people should be eating.
That leaves them wondering exactly what that ‘healthy diet’ is. Well here’s the answer, per kind favour of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
About a decade ago they developed The Food Pyramid, the aim of which was to easily show people how to make healthy and nutritious food choices. You ate most foods from those at the base of the pyramid and less the higher up you went.
(In 2005 they revised these guidelines and now have a new Food Pyramid).
You work out with your dietician the amount of calories you can have per day and then make sensible healthy choices from the categories in the pyramid. The recommendation was that you had a number of portions a day from each category.
- Category 6: Fats, oils or sweets. Sparingly.
- Category 5: Dairy e.g. milk, yoghurt, cheese etc. 2-3 portions.
- Category 4: Protein e.g. meat, poultry, fish, beans, legumes etc. 2-3 portions.
- Category 3: Vegetables 3-5 portions.
- Category 2: Fruit 2-4 portions
- Category 1: Carbohydrates e.g. bread, grains, pasta, rice etc. 6-11 portions
In general the foods of the base and the second layer of the diabetes food pyramid should be consumed liberally with restriction of the higher layers of the diabetes food pyramid. The higher the group in the diabetes food pyramid the lesser quantity of that particular group should be consumed with sparing consumption.
- Grains and Starches: At the base of the diabetes food pyramid are the grains and starches, which consist mainly of carbohydrates. Rice, wheat, rye, oat, corns, peas potato, pinto beans, and other commonly used staple food grains belongs to this group.
- Vegetables: This group is situated just above the base of diabetes food pyramid. Vegetables are naturally low in fats content, low in calorie and rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers and micronutrients.
- Fruits: This group is also situated just above the base of the diabetes food pyramid along with vegetables group. Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers and also carbohydrates.
- Milk: This group is above the second layer (vegetables and fruits) of diabetes food pyramid. Milk group contains a lot of proteins and calcium as well as many vitamins. From milk category a diabetic patient should select milk products with low fat content.
- Meat, Meat Substitutes and Other Proteins: This group is alongside the milk group in the diabetes food pyramid, which contains very high amount of proteins, good quantity of vitamins and minerals.
- Fats, Oils, Sweet: This is at the top of diabetes food pyramid, which signifies that very little of this group should be consumed by diabetics and preferably avoided.
Diabetes UK has a similar system. This puts the five categories of food onto a plate, with wedges differing in size depending on the proportion of the food you need to eat for a balanced diet. It looks rather like a pie chart.
The largest wedge is for carbohydrates, in the form of bread, cereal and potatoes, followed by fruit and vegetables, then Milk and dairy products, Meat, fish and alternatives and lastly foods containing fats or sugars.
Try this link for a picture of the UK Food Plate and further information about this system.
The problem is that although this may work admirably for non-diabetics it is very possible that diabetics sensitive to various foodstuffs within these groups could see disproportionate swings in their bg’s.
Plenty of testing with your trusty meter may well be needed to find just which foods to eat and which to avoid.