Create Your Plate for diabetes

Did you know it’s no longer necessary for a person with diabetes to eliminate sweets and other favorite foods from their diet? Create Your Plate is a healthy eating plan that helps diabetics manage their blood glucose levels by monitoring what they eat.

There is still a misconception that people with diabetes can’t eat their favorite foods or that they have to purchase special foods for their condition. It wasn’t too long ago that people with diabetes were told that they couldn’t eat food that contained sugar and were instructed to avoid certain types of carbohydrates. Medical research studies now show that people with diabetes no longer have to avoid certain foods and can manage their blood glucose levels by monitoring what and how much they eat. Of course this can vary from person to person. 

If you have diabetes, or live with and/or care for a person with diabetes, The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends using the “Create Your Plate” to plan meals and manage blood glucose levels. Here are ADA’s seven simple steps to get started: 

  1. Using a dinner plate, draw an imaginary line down the middle of the plate. On one side, cut it in half again so that there are a total of 3 sections on the plate.
  2. The largest section of the plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables. Examples include spinach, carrots, lettuce, green beans, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and turnips.
  3. One of the smaller sections should include grains and starchy foods. Examples include whole grain breads (whole wheat or rye), whole grain/high fiber cereal, rice, pasta, cooked beans/peas, potatoes, corn, winter squash, snack crackers/chips, pretzels and light popcorn.
  4. The other smaller section should be protein such as chicken/turkey (without the skin), fish, seafood (shrimp, clams, oyster, crab or mussels), lean cuts of beef or pork, eggs and low-fat cheese.
  5. A serving of fruit should be added, as well as a serving of dairy.
  6. Make sure to choose healthy fats in smaller amounts. Some great choices include nuts and seeds for snacking, olive or canola oil for cooking and vinaigrette’s for dressings.
  7. Add a low calorie drink such as water, unsweetened tea or coffee, to complete your meal. 

It’s important that people with diabetes remember to:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Regularly space their meals and snacks over the day
  • Not skip meals
  • Eat the same amount of food at each meal. 

Spacing your meals at regular times allows the body a chance to produce and use its insulin. It also allows for diabetes medication to work towards keeping your energy level up. The goal of eating regular amounts of food at each meal is to maintain an even energy flow and blood sugar level throughout the day. 

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you consult with your health care provider before making any significant changes to your diet. If you are looking for more information on diabetes, MSU Extension offers classes that help participants build skills in managing their diabetes.

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