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Diabetic Meal Plan

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Diabetes, especially Type II (adult onset or obesity related diabetes) diabetes is a diet-related disorder. Recent studies have provided evidence that Type II diabetes may develop as a result of excessive weight gain, a higher than normal concentration of abdominal body fat, increased intake of saturated fats, and a general absence of regular exercise. There are, of course, genetic and other factors, but the fact that Type II diabetes can be managed with a conscientious diabetic meal plan is clearly evidence that diabetes is related to the types and the amounts of food that individuals consume.

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A registered dietician is best able to assist in the creation of an appropriate diabetic meal plan for individuals managing Type I or Type II diabetes. Diabetics need to be very careful about what they eat, when they eat, and in what quantities they consume food. Each diabetic meal plan must be created specifically for each individual patient and should take into consideration the caloric needs and lifestyle of the individual for whom it has been created. A healthful diabetic meal plan that incorporates a balance of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and dairy products is the best course of action to manage both Type I and Type II diabetes.

The meal plan recommended most often for diabetics is the exchange plan. This plan has been around for several decades and has been used extensively by health care professionals. Individuals generally are provided with lists of foods and what exchanges they belong to and then are given the amount/number of each exchange that fits their caloric intake. For instance, one half cup of corn is considered one starch (carbohydrate) exchange as is one biscuit. If your meal needs to include one starch exchange, you will need to select either the corn or the biscuit, not both. You may "trade" your exchange for any other equivalent exchange within the same category. Exchanges are foods from all of the food groups and include carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and dairy products, as well as fats. The exchange diabetic meal plan also includes "free" foods. These are exchanges that you can consume without counting them against any of your exchange totals. Generally, the free foods are low calorie or no calorie foods and beverages that will not affect your blood glucose levels. Your diabetic meal plan and the number of exchanges you will be allowed will be determined with the help of your dietician or medical professional. You will use your number of exchanges as you wish during the course of each day, but it is important to remember that you must spread them out wisely. In essence, saving all of your exchanges to use on one large meal is unadvisable because this will cause dangerous fluctuations in your blood glucose levels. Using your exchanges to create three healthy meals day as well as two or three healthy snacks is the intent of this system.

Diabetics, both Type I and Type II, are able to eat many of the same foods as people who do not have diabetes. Perhaps the single most important factor in managing diabetes is the successful implementation of a diabetic meal plan. Diabetics who consistently follow their meal plan find that they are better able to manage their condition than those who do not follow any specific plan. Most diabetics become so familiar with their meal plan that it becomes second nature to them. A reasonable diabetic meal plan can be followed even when the individual is on-the-go, away from home, or even when eating out. Many diabetics who follow a meal plan eat healthfully and maintain a reasonable weight - something even non-diabetics can benefit from.

Lisa Lupichuk is the author and webmaster of an informational website on diabetes [].

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