Diabetic Meal Planning

October 1, 2019 / Diabetic Digest

Enjoy Your Favorite Foods | Proper Diabetic Meal Planning

Diabetes can be a challenging illness to deal with. Many variables must be considered on a daily basis to manage blood glucose levels and lead a healthy and productive life, as a diabetic. One of the main things to take into consideration daily is what to eat. What foods are going to provide enough energy to carry out life’s everyday tasks and yet still keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range? Many different techniques are available and differ from diabetic to diabetic. Some may choose to eat only home-prepared meals. Others may choose to eat out regularly and rarely prepare meals at home. Or some may want to go with a healthy home delivery meal kits subscription. Some may eat protein-rich foods and largely avoid carbohydrates. Others may choose to eat more carbohydrate-heavy meals relying more on insulin and exercise to help regulate blood glucose levels. There is no actual perfect plan that works for every diabetic. Regardless of lifestyle and choices in regards to managing diabetes, diabetic meal planning is a technique that however not foolproof can help to facilitate a healthy lifestyle as a diabetic.

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Diabetic Meal Planning

What Is A Diabetic Meal Plan?

Diabetic meal planning can play an important role in managing diabetes. There are as many different ways to plan meals as there are different schedules and lifestyles. In this article, I will address some of the lifestyles and techniques that can be used in diabetic meal planning to ease some of the stress that is inherent in managing diabetes. First I will discuss meal prepping, a time consuming but almost foolproof method in assuring that every meal will have the exact amount of nutrition needed with each meal. Secondly, I will talk about the more casual and often more popular technique of eating on the go. Lastly, I will discuss the combination of both and compare the pros and cons of each. No one method will be perfect for every diabetic, but a little foresight and predictability can help alleviate some of the stresses of managing blood glucose levels while remaining energetic and productive throughout the day.

Diabetic Meal Preparation

One technique that is very helpful when it comes to diabetic meal planning is the concept of meal prepping. Generally speaking, meal prepping is cooking larger amounts of food and then individually portioning them out to be eaten throughout the week. This can be very beneficial for diabetics that like to leave less room for variation and prefer to have all their ducks in a row, so to speak. A prime example of this would be grilling 5 to 7 chicken breasts as well as cooking enough broccoli and rice and finally proportioning them into easy to use to-go containers. Another fine example would be baking a large pan of tofu and stir-frying enough vegetables to make 5 to 7 meals, again individually proportioned as before. Rice is a great compliment to this veggie stir-fry as well. If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day grilling up a large number of pancakes or waffles and proportioning them to be eaten throughout the week. If you like, you can even fire up some bacon or sausage by the pound and portion that alongside the pancakes for a quick and easy breakfast that only needs to be brought to temperature before enjoying. Slow-cooked meals are great for diabetic meal planning. If you have a crockpot or just a large pot, in general, you can make stews or soups that can be kept warm and eaten at any time. Meal prepping can be regulated to any dietary lifestyle one chooses. Whether vegan, paleo, ketogenic, low carbohydrate, gluten intolerant, dairy intolerant, or any lifestyle meal prepping can take so much of the guesswork out of meals and help one lead a healthy life. No matter the lifestyle, meal prepping can be a fun method of ensuring good nutrition and healthier blood glucose levels.

Dining Out With Diabetes

In great contrast to meal prepping is the method of “eating on the go.” In general, this would be not having a set plan for breakfast, lunch, or dinner but really having several options for each and exercising them based on mood or appetite. A good example of this is going through the McDonald’s drive-through in the morning for a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit with a large cup of coffee on the way to the office. For lunch maybe a lighter meal like tuna salad with butter leaf lettuce and a large sparkling water from the cafeteria might seem appropriate. Dinner may be eaten at a fine restaurant overlooking the ocean and consist of steak and lobster. Like meal prepping, eating on the go can be made to fit any lifestyle. If you are intermittent fasting you may save your calories until afternoon and then eat heavier until 10 pm or whenever your eating period ends. If you are vegan, there are a number of delicious vegan restaurants and products that cater to the plant-based lifestyle. Many restaurants and cafes offer gluten and dairy-free options as more and more people are finding that they have sensitivities to these. One thing for sure is that eating on the go will never leave you short of options. It instead might present you with the issue of having too many options and difficulties deciding.

Eating On The Go With Diabetes

For some, the rigidity of meal prepping coupled with the time consumed making meals is not ideal. For others the spontaneity of eating on the run might make managing blood glucose levels challenging and having a more regimented eating style is better. No 2 diabetics are alike and each has their respective tastes and preferences. Yet another method of diabetic meal planning would be to combine useful aspects of both meal prepping and eating on the go. For instance, having plenty of food in the home with favorite recipes in mind to make throughout the week while still having the flexibility to go have a bite with friends after work. Combining the two can be conducive to helping regulate blood glucose levels and at the same time not being so rigid that having a meal outside of the home is a refreshing rewarding experience. Meal prepping, I’m convinced is a better way to control blood glucose levels. Fewer variables in the equation offer less chance for drastic blood glucose fluctuation. Meal prepping can be very time-consuming upfront, yet in the end, will save time as meals are already made and have only to be brought to temperature to enjoy. Eating on the go can leave much more room for issues in terms of blood glucose levels. There may not be enough time to get something to eat in the window allotted. There may be a long line at the chosen place to eat. There may not be the right options depending on your particular dietary preferences. So many things have to be considered. Eating on the go can be very costly. I’m sure we’ve all calculated the amount of money we spend on coffee every year. Imagine if you ate out 2 to 3 times a day. For these reasons, I think it easiest to mostly have meals planned out if not having them pre-prepared and ready to eat and at the same time having the flexibility to enjoy a meal out from time to time.

Good Meal Plans For Diabetics

For a diabetic, food choices are very important. As important is when and how to eat. Managing Diabetes is a layered task and diabetic meal planning can make the task so much easier. In this article I have touched on meal prepping, the method of making larger amounts of food and proportioning them to be enjoyed throughout the week. This method can be time-consuming at first but will save time in the end. Meal prepping can be a great factor in maintaining consistent blood glucose levels. Also in this article, I have discussed “eating on the go.” This method certainly offers more variety in diabetic meal planning, and at the same time can lead to more peaks and valleys in blood glucose control. Eating on the go can also be very costly in comparison with meal prepping. Lastly, I brought up the idea of combining meal prepping and eating on the go. This would be largely having meals thought out to make at home but leaving some wiggle room to enjoy a meal out from time to time. No one method is going to be perfect for every lifestyle. Some may be strictly vegetarian or vegan while others choose to eat ketogenic or paleo. Whatever lifestyle you choose, a little time taken for Diabetic Meal Planning can greatly increase control of blood glucose levels and overall diabetic health.

About Our Guest Writer:

Tim Delaney, Content Writer.  Tim studied Environmental Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He is an avid outdoor enthusiast, loves to surf, is passionate about health, and discovering ways to enjoy life with diabetes.

Tim Delaney

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Diabetic Meal Planning FAQ's

Are there any fast-food chains that have diabetic-friendly menus?

None that we know of or can find, but there are certainly choices on most fast food menus that can fit a diabetic diet. Unfortunately, anything with pasta, fried chicken, or onion rings would be a definite no-no, but most options without a bun or breading should be fine.

Are there any types of food that are better or worse for diabetics?

If by types you mean foods of other ethnicities, then yes. Italian food often includes wheat in different forms like kinds of pasta and pizza crust and would not be very good for glucose levels, while Indian and Thai foods usually substitute rice for flour in side dishes and noodles which is gentler on glucose levels.

Is there any food that is best for keeping glucose levels under control?

Fresh vegetables and foods high in fiber should be diabetic staples. Vegetables have a very low impact on glucose levels while providing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and fiber bonds with glucose and helps transport it through the digestive system, easing the burden of the pancreas and liver.

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