Preparing Diabetic Friendly Meals – Things To know

How do you react after finding out that it’s you or your family member that is diagnosed with diabetes? Do you have any idea how many people in the U.S. are fighting that same battle at the moment of speaking?

We do! Disturbing and alarming statistics on the U.S. population show that an estimated 30.3 million people have diabetes, and only 23.1 million of those are diagnosed! Diabetes is a disease with a fatal outcome if not treated on time.

Getting a diagnosis is step 1 in the process. Then you need to come up with a consistent meal plan, medications, and other ways to keep healthy blood glucose levels.

Read our Diabetic Meal Guide If you are here trying to understand what diabetes is and how to deal with it!

say no to white sugar image

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. The normal function of the pancreas is to produce the hormone insulin, which helps glucose to enter each body cell. In people with diabetes, pancreas and insulin don’t “work” correctly, and it causes high levels of glucose in the blood.

Almost 9.5 percent of the population in the United States has diabetes! However, one in four people with diabetes is not aware of their disease.

If not treated over time, too much glucose in the blood can cause eye problems, heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Steaming food tray with lid

Different Types

Type 1

Type 1 Diabetes typically occurs in children and young adults, even though it might happen at any age. Body of people with type 1 diabetes stops the pancreas from making insulin. Without an essential hormone like insulin, glucose can’t get into cells and be used as an energy source! 

Level of blood glucose rises above average, which demands insulin intake each day! 

Around 5% of people with diabetes have type 1, and they must take insulin daily to stay alive.

Type 2

Type 2 Diabetes, the most common type in population, happens when the level of blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is too high! The pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or the body doesn’t know how to use it, which will in both of these situations lead to failure in getting glucose inside of the cell where it’s used as an energy source! 

Type 2 diabetes is present in people of all ages, but more often occurs in middle-aged and older ones. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if there are some of these risk factors present in your life:

  • Age of 45, and older
  • Positive family history of diabetes 
  • Overweightness or Obesity 
  • Not physically active 
  • High Blood Pressure

Gestational

According to American Diabetes Association, each year almost 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes! It doesn’t necessarily mean that future mom had it before pregnancy neither that it stays for life. 

However, the cause of gestational diabetes is still unknown but the treatment is more than possible and effective! The key is to act fast before it hurts the baby or the mother. 

image of girl with gestational diabetes

Monogenic

About 1 to 4 percent of all cases of diabetes in the United States are marked as monogenic! This form of diabetes is a consequence of a change or a mutation in a single gene. Most of these mutations cause a reduced body’s ability to produce insulin.

Cystic Fibrosis-Related

Patients with Cystic Fibrosis have more chances of developing diabetes as they grow older. CFRD has some features of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Steaming food tray with lid

Diabetic Meal and Diet Guide

What You Should Eat

  • Foods Rich in Fiber 

Foods that are rich in fiber can improve digestion, reduce risk of heart disease and lower your blood sugar! Great amount of fiber is present in plant foods – vegetables, fruits, pulses (dried beans, peas, and lentils), whole grains, and nuts. 

People with diabetes should eat beans, legumes,celery,  a lot of fruits (especially those with edible seeds, such as berries), whole grain cereals and breads, almonds, nuts, walnuts, as well as other nuts but in controlled portions (don’t forget nuts have calories)!  

  • Healthy Carbs

Carbohydrates, AKA carbs include starches, sugars, and fiber.

When it comes to a diabetes nutrition plan, It’s essential to keep track of the amount and type of carbs that you eat. Healthy carbs provide energy, minerals, vitamins, and fiber!

Foods that do not contain any carbs are meat, fish, poultry, nuts, cheese, and oils. Non-starchy veggies are low in carbs, and those are celery, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, green lettuce, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, green beans.

  • Good Fats

Dietary plan for both diabetes type 1 and 2 includes heart-healthy fats, as well! These are found in oils, which are liquid at room temperature (canola and olive oil), nuts and seeds, heart-healthy fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel), and avocado.

Avoid cooking with butter, stick margarine, and lard. Instead, use healthy oils mentioned before.

  • Foods With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A list of benefits your body gets from foods with omega-3 fatty acids is long and exhausting! Concerning the diabetes meal plan, it’s important to emphasize how these unsaturated fats can improve heart health, control your blood sugar level, and help reduce insulin resistance!

Include supplements, or even better non-fried fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids into your weekly meal plan (mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna are on top of the list).

image of tasty salad for healthy life

What to Avoid

  • Sodium 

Avoid adding extra salt to the table and use non-sodium spice blends instead! Canned and processed vegetables are always rich in sodium – use fresh or fresh frozen ones. Dressings, sauerkraut, condiments, pickles – full of sodium even if you can’t taste it! 

Read the nutritional information on each product before buying it!

  • Bad Cholesterol

Eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day because some foods can increase your blood cholesterol! You should avoid or control the intake of these sources of cholesterol – poultry skin, high-fat meat, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products! You can always look for the number on the label, if not sure of the specific product at the store. 

  • Saturated Fats

Diet low in saturated fats can take down blood cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease. The majority of this “bad fat” is found in meat and dairy products – amb, pork, fatty beef, poultry skin, butter, 2% milk and dairy products. Monitor daily intake of bad fats and find more information on fats relating to diabetes

  • Trans Fats

Trans fats are created through the process of hydrogenation when liquid oils are turned into solids. Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat listed on the label of a specific product. Typical items rich in bad trans fats are snack food, crackers, frozen pizzas, cookies, doughnuts, baked goods (not home-made), and some stick margarines.

image of unhealthy food
Steaming food tray with lid

Methods in Making a Diabetic Diet Plan

Carbohydrates Counting

Carb counting is a method that helps people with diabetes type 1 and 2 to create suitable meal plans. Counting carbs is keeping track of the precise amount of carbohydrates that get ingested during the day. You need some basic knowledge on which food is low in carbs and how many grams of carbs each ingredient includes!

Be free to rely on dietitians to help you build daily or weekly meal plans until you gain self-esteem.

Plate Method

The plate method is a convenient method for planning that doesn’t include measuring and counting calories but is equally efficient as the previous one! This method is appropriate when you plan lunch and dinner meals and requires a 9-inch plate. Here is a way to use it:

  1. Put a non-starchy vegetable on half of the plate
  2. Then, place some meat or other protein on ¼ of the plate
  3. Finally, add a grain or some other starch on the last ¼ (corn or peas will do as starchy vegetables). 

Find more ideas on how to create your plate with proper nutrients using the American Diabetes Association’s tips.

Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index or GI is a ranking value of foods that shows how these affect blood glucose levels – how slowly/quickly it increases after consumption. 

Here is a classification on Glycemic Index:

  • Low – GI 55 or less
  • Medium – GI value 56-69
  • High – GI 70 or more

Those ingredients that are high on the GI release glucose very fast! With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the digestion of high GI foods leads to faster glucose release and very high blood sugar levels! 

Check out the chart of the GI for some common foods!

Food Choice Method

The right choice of food is the number one method when speaking of diabetes! As mentioned earlier, there are specific directions to follow on which food is welcome and what you should avoid. Registered dietitians can provide help with tips regarding nutrition and ways to monitor blood glucose levels concerning food.

Steaming food tray with lid
young woman making salad image

Healthy Eating Tips When You Have Diabetes

Fill Up With Fibers

Fibers can help with digestion (prevent constipation), lower cholesterol levels, and control weight. As mentioned earlier, fibers are found in plant-based foods. Healthy adults should take about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Include more fruits and vegetables with edible skin (e.g., apples, beans), all kinds of nuts, whole grains, beans, and legumes (white beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils).

Cut The Sugar

Diabetes is a disease of high blood glucose levels! Glucose is a type of sugar that arises when we ingest carbohydrates, and our body breaks them into glucose – sugar. Overeating sugar can increase those levels, but not eating them at all is also dangerous if blood sugar drops too low! Find your balance – each body works differently.

Beware of Your Food Choices

It is essential to understand how the body and pancreas of people with diabetes work. Otherwise, you cannot truly understand why cut the sugar, or avoid eating poultry skin!

The perfectly designed daily plan is necessary at the beginning. Still, with the time you gain knowledge, experience, and become aware of how individual food choices might help or put you in danger!

Change Carbs to Good Fat

Good fats are found in avocado, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia, tofu, fatty fish (mackerel, tuna, sardines, etc.). If you crave some junk-food snacks rich in bad fats and carbs, try replacing them with these ingredients that cannot raise your blood sugar or cholesterol levels.

Be Aware of the Serving Size

Overweight and obesity are on the list of risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Manage your portions because each body functions in a different way! Plate Method is quite a practical method to take care of your serving size, unlike carbohydrates counting and GI methods.

Check Your Drink's Sugar

The best possible drink for people with diabetes is water – sugarless and without any calories! However, if you like to have some juice, make it 100% fruit one, it will raise your blood sugar. Fruit juice concentrates are high in sugar and should be banned. Processed food and drinks contain sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.

Steaming food tray with lid
image of blueberry yogurt

Diabetes-Friendly Cooking Tips

Use Low-fat Dairy Products

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, or cheese are rich in proteins and vitamins, and provide a vital source of calcium! However, some dairy products are high in saturated fat, which is bad for diabetes.

Use low-fat milk, light cream cheese, natural cottage cheese, and lighter cheddar cheese instead of Cheddar, Brie, and Edam! Best yogurt options are natural yogurt and low-fat Greek yogurt. Mix yogurt with fresh fruits or nuts to get more flavors!

Reduce Fat and Substitute It With Healthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are bad ones, and their ingestion must be strictly monitored! Always choose liquid fats over solids! Cook with oils liquid at room temperature, such as canola and olive oil. Avoid butter and lard.

Go Lean

 With lean foods, you can never be wrong! Here are some ingredients you should eat on the diabetes meal plan:

  • Fish – salmon, mackerel, cod, anchovies, tuna
  • Chicken and Turkey – with skin removed
  • Beef – only one labeled as “lean” or “extra lean”
  • Low-fat Dairy Products 
  • Eggs
  • Peas, Beans, Lentils

Choose Plant-based

Plate method says for itself – one half of it is reserved for non-starchy vegetables for a reason! Non-starchy plants have a low GI index, which makes them a popular item on a diabetes meal plan!

Eat fresh vegetable salad instead of canned or processed ones that are high in sugar. Between fruits and veggies, go with vegetables due to a lower amount of sugar.

Eat Healthy Desserts

Sweets, such as candies, cookies, cakes, and other types of dessert, are usually high in refined carbs and have added sugar! It’s necessary to avoid these and learn some recipes for healthy desserts. If you are interested in sweets tailored for people with diabetes, check out our ideas and recipes.

Steaming food tray with lid

How To Make Your Meal Preparation Easier If You Are Diabetic

Diabetic-friendly Meal Kits

Dealing with diabetes might get hard if you lack time for weekly meal planning, shopping organic ingredients, and preparing meals in a certain way! Diabetes is a disease that can lead to serious health problems if not treated in the right direction, and nutrition is a fundamental principle.

Meal kit delivery services tailored special weekly programs for people with diabetes type 2! Please rely on the work of the registered dietitians and chefs, which carefully design recipes, pre-measured ingredients, and deliver them to your doorstep along with a recipe card! 

Check out our list of the best meal kit services suitable for those with diabetes.

Diabetic-friendly Meal Delivery Services

Meal delivery services are an easy and straightforward way toward a healthy and adventurous weekly meal plan without any fuss. In comparison to meal kits, prepared meals are one step forward because delivered food is already cooked. There are many meal delivery services on the market that provide specialized programs for people with type 2 diabetes.

Make sure to check out our list of the best meal delivery services for those with diabetes!

Variety of served meals on Veestro home page

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some meal kit services with type 2 diabetes menu?

At the moment, these are one of the best-rated meal kit services for people with type 2 diabetes:

These companies deliver meal kits nationwide and source high-quality organic ingredients! Diabetic-friendly recipes include a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. If you look into their offer, you can find main entrees, healthy snacks, yogurts, natural juices, and more tasty food for people struggling with diabetes.

What are some meal plan examples for type 2 diabetes?

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Banana-carrot and Pecan Muffins
  • Whole Grain Cereal with Low-Fat Dairy
  • Scrambled Eggs and Toast 
  • Almonds and Fruits with Greek Yogurt

Lunch/Dinner Ideas:

  • Whole-grain Pasta with Vegetables or any Lean Meat
  • Vegetable Salad
  • Hearty Soups with Lean Protein (no cream)
  • Salad with shrimps, grilled chicken, fish

Snacks:

  • Hummus with Fresh Veggies
  • Greek Yogurt with Fruit
  • Banana & Berry Smoothie

Conclusion

Planning healthy meals and snacks for tomorrow is a significant step toward keeping diabetes under control. If you don’t have energy, ideas, or time for doing that, you can rely on expert advice or meal delivery services with a team of registered nutritionists!

Remember, diabetes is a common disease, meaning you are not alone! Look for support groups, organizations, and associations that are focused on this problem. To start, put some energy into getting knowledge on a meal guide for people with diabetes. Hopefully, we managed to give you some basics!