from MedisoftIndia

Diabetes and Nutrition

Why does it matter what I eat?

What you eat is closely connected to your blood sugar level. The right food choices will help you control your blood sugar level.

Do I have to follow a special diet?

There isn't one "diabetes diet." Your doctor will probably suggest that you work with a registered dietitian to design a meal plan. A meal plan is a guide that tells you how much and what kinds of food you can choose at meals and snack time. For most people with diabetes (and those without, too), a healthy diet for people with diabetes consists of 40% to 60% of calories from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 30% or less from fat.

Can I eat any sugar?

Yes. In recent years, doctors have learned that eating some sugar doesn't usually cause problems for most people with diabetes--as long as it is part of a balanced diet. Just be careful about how much sugar you eat and try not to add sugar to foods.

What kinds of foods can I eat?

In general, at each meal you may have 2 to 5 choices (or up to 60 grams) of carbohydrates, 1 choice of protein and a certain amount of fat. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for specific advice.

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy foods and starchy foods such as breads. Try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables rather than canned fruits (unless they are packed in water or their own juice), fruit juices or dried fruit. You may eat frozen or canned vegetables. Condiments such  ketchup, mustard and as nonfat mayonnaise are also carbohydrates.

Protein. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans and some vegetables. Try to eat poultry and fish more often than red meat. Don't eat poultry skin, and trim extra fat from all meat. Choose nonfat or reduced-fat cheeses and yogurts.

Fat. Butter and oils add fat to food. Fat is also in many dairy and meat products. Try to avoid fried foods, egg yolks,  and high-fat dairy products. Your doctor or dietitian will tell you how many grams of fat you may eat each day. 

What is the exchange list?

The exchange list (see the sample) is a tool to help you plan healthy meals and snacks. To add variety to your diet, you can substitute foods for other foods in the same group. Some examples are listed below.

Sample Exchange List
Food group You can have this... Or exchange it for this...

(Each serving contains about 15 grams carbohydrates)

1 small or medium piece of fresh fruit

1/2 cup fruit juice, canned or chopped friut

(Each serving contains about 5 grams carbohydrates)

1 cup of raw vegetables

1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable juice

(Each serving contains about 15 grams carbohydrates)

1 slice or ounce of bread

1/2 cup cereal, starchy vegetable, pasta

Sugar, honey, 

1 teaspoon

4 grams carbohydrates

(does not include cream, yogurt or cheese)

1 cup milk

12 grams carbohydrates and 8 grams protein


1 ounce meat, fish, poultry, cheese or yogurt

1/2 cup dried beans

(includes nuts, seeds  & peanut butter)

1 teaspoon oil, butter or margarine

5 grams of fat

What if my blood sugar is below or above normal?

If your blood sugar is low, you may become cranky, tired, confused, shaky or sweaty (called hypoglycemia). This can happen after working or exercise. You should check your blood sugar level and then drink fruit juice or a regular soda right away. This will usually bring your level back to normal.

However, if you are very thirsty, urinating a lot or having blurred vision, your blood sugar may be much too high. Check your blood sugar level and contact your doctor about what to do.

This is a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. To find out if this handout applies to you and to get more information, talk to your doctor.

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