Explore and get familiar with nutrition labels on foods and drinks
Nutrition labels are your best friend when meal planning as a diabetic. The nutrition labels will tell you everything you need to know, including:
- Recommended serving sizes, which simply lets you know how many servings are in the food container. More times than not, a food container, such as crackers or chips, will have multiple servings per bag or box. Finding the serving size on the label will ensure that you do not consume more calories or carbs than intended.
- Calories, which are a large part of managing weight. To reduce weight, calorie intake should reduce while calorie output should increase. To Maintain weight, calorie input and output should be as equal as possible. Being smart about calories can help keep diabetes under control.
- Carbs and sugar amounts, which are the largest component of eating healthy as a diabetic. Those with diabetes should keep carb and sugar intake low and balanced. Familiarizing yourself with this part of the nutrition label will greatly improve your meal planning as a diabetic.
Try the Diabetes Plate Method
The diabetes plate method was developed by the American Diabetes Association as a handy tool for those with diabetes. This method gives diabetics a clear and visual plan to use for each meal.
The method is simple. Get a 9 inch plate for proper serving size control and divide the plate into three sections:
- The first section, and biggest of the three, will be filled with one type of non starchy vegetables. These vegetables are low in calories and carbs, while also being filling. Some great non starchy vegetables are broccoli, asparagus, and green beans.
- The second section is dedicated to protein foods. Proteins are filling and usually low carb options for diabetics. Some great proteins to consider are fish and chicken.
- The third and final section will be filled with carbs. While carbs should be limited for diabetics, this method is a great way to still be able to consume some healthy carbs. Healthy carbs can include fruits, potatoes, and rice.
The diabetic plate method can be a great tool to keep in a diabetic’s meal planning tool box and can make meal planning a breeze.
Create a Meal Planning Schedule
The beauty of meal planning and prepping is that it's a small time commitment that saves loads of time throughout the week. To make this time commitment easier, pick a day of the week that you always meal prep on, and maybe even a specific time. Creating a schedule that you stick to will make meal planning easier and will ensure that you have healthy meals to eat throughout the week. Use frozen vegetables and precooked meats to make this schedule even quicker and easier. Remember, if healthy food is accessible to you, you are more likely to choose the healthy meal over fast food or other potentially unhealthy choices.