The medical team involved in your diabetes care is likely to often mention your diet. They are not talking about the latest fad for cutting calories or substituting meals with formulated drinks. Your diet is what you eat overall. Some people eat mostly meat and potatoes while others do get plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Others may get most of their calories from processed foods that are heated up in a microwave. Whatever it is that you eat from day to day is your diet. If you have diabetes, then you probably have heard about eating a diabetic diet. Here are some explanations of what that actually means.
Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fat
Everything you eat is eventually turned into glucose for your body to use for energy. Glucose is the energy source for your body that fuels everything from your muscles to your brain. In fact, your brain uses a tremendous amount of glucose for fuel. There are complex chemical processes that go into converting your food into glucose, but carbohydrates are the ones that get processed the easiest. Plus, your food also contains many other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, beneficial bacteria and more. Proteins and fat can be turned into glucose by your body, and they can also slow the processing of carbohydrates into glucose. This is why pizza is a food that often results in a blood glucose spike. The carbs in the bread and sauce get slowed in processing due to the fat in the cheese and pepperoni, causing a surprise spike in blood glucose levels hours later.
Your diet needs a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Following a strict low fat diet may not be appropriate, but getting too much fat is not good either. Plus, there are simple and complex carbohydrates. An example of a simple carbohydrate would be the sugar in a regular soda. A complex carbohydrate would be rice. The sugar in the soda will raise your blood glucose levels rapidly while the rice takes longer. Plus, you do not need a degree in nutritional science to know that rice is better for you than sugary drinks whether you need to follow a diabetic diet or not.
Oils are an example of fat. The fat in meat is another fat. Real butter is made from milk fat. Not all fats are equal. An example of a good fat to consume in moderation is olive oil, where the cheap cottonseed and rapeseed oils used in processed foods is not so good. As for proteins, they can be in anything. Animal flesh is high in protein, but so are beans and soy. Plus, you do not need a lot of protein to thrive. The average person needs about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of weight. If you are healthy at 190 pounds, then you should eat 68.4 grams of protein per day. If you have kidney problems, you may be put on a lower protein diet to help ease the burden on your kidneys. A nine ounce steak contains 62 grams of protein. A cup of beans pinto beans contains 41 grams. If you eat a regular diet, you are likely getting more protein than you actually need.
Each type of food has a different rate that it is turned into energy. Foods that take longer to digest would be lower on the glycemic index, and foods that can spike your blood glucose faster would be higher. The number 100 would be where glucose itself is at on the index. You want to stick with foods for your regular meals that raise your blood glucose levels more slowly. That bagel for breakfast is around a 72 on the index, but a wheat tortilla used to make a wrap is only around 30. A banana is around 62 while an apple is 39. You might want to eat the banana before your morning jog, but choose an apple with lunch if you are just going to be sitting at your desk after you eat. Knowing where on the glycemic index the foods you eat are at will help you make not only the best choices of what to eat but also when to eat it.
There is a lot more to learn about eating a proper diet to help control your diabetes for the long term. Do not get sidelined by diet fads. Work to get away from eating processed foods that contain refined sugars, and learn to control portion sizes for carbs, proteins and fats. If you need to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns in a day or you need to burn more calories than you eat. You cannot get away from that simple equation when it comes to weight control, and that is a major issue many diabetics face every day.