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How to plan a healthy meal?

Edited: 18.04.2024

Anne-Charlotte Ficheroulle

Pharmacist, Digital Innovation Manager, A4D

1. Why it is important to plan meals?

It’s not necessary to be on strict diets, but you do need to pay attention to what and how much you eat. Why? Because it helps you to keep your blood glucose levels healthy. Meal planning helps people with diabetes eat right and stay healthy.

You need to balance your carbohydrate intake with your insulin and activity levels to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Doing so can help prevent some of the long-term health problems of diabetes.

You need to know what’s in the food you’re preparing. It’s important that you know which food contains carbohydrates and whether are they good or bad carbs.

Good carbs found in wholefood ingredients like leafy greens and vegetables (e.g. carrot or eggplant). The bad carbs, found in processed food like desserts and snacks (e.g. cakes, pastries, chocolates, candies) or sugary drinks. Be careful as well with street food snacks and drinks which may contain sweet milk or too much of added sugar.

If possible refer to food labels for food’s ingredients, nutritional information, and calories when you buy food from supermarket.

If you want to buy food already prepared from a street food vendor do not hesitate to ask him what are the ingredients and if there is sugar added.

Read more. 

2. The plate method.

Try to make each meal a good balance of carbs and other nutrients, both for diabetes management and to make meals satisfying.
You can follow the plate method which is simple and easy to follow:

  • 1/2 plate: leafy and non-starchy vegetables: e.g. cabbage, broccoli, carrot, cucumber or morning glory

  • 1/4 plate: carbohydrate (grains and starchy vegetables): e.g. whole grain rice/bread, corn, potatoes or taro

  • 1/4 plate : proteins: e.g. lean meat, fish or eggs

Optional: a glass of milk (low fat) or a fresh fruit
It’s important to have a good relationship with food and enjoy it but we have first to learn about it and to know how it affects you. Food is like a friend. It’s important to choose good food like good friends who will help you grow healthy.

3. What are the tips to eat healthy with Type 1 Diabetes?

  • Never skip meals and try to eat around the same time everyday

  • Take consistent portions of carbohydrates everyday

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Choose the healthier carbohydrates like brown rice instead of white rice or sticky rice

  • Eat more vegetables and fruit

  • Choose a healthy snack (e.g. fruit) if you want a snack

  • Have 30 mins of exercise everyday

Try to avoid/reduce:

  • Sugary drinks, snacks or desserts – It is OK to have special treats on special occasions like birthday or other celebrations but moderately.

  • Processed food (e.g. meat in can, sausage)

  • Reduce the amount of salt in your food

Drinking alcohol:
Alcohol contains carbohydrates and drinking alcohol will affect your blood glucose level: Moderate consumption can raise blood glucose levels but excessive drinking can cause hypoglycaemia.
You can drink on occasion but moderately and make sure you are eating at the same time, check your blood glucose regularly, and drink plenty of water the next day. Be aware of the risk of hypoglycaemia and treat it if you have any symptoms.

4. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates

One important thing to remember is that carbohydrates shouldn’t completely be avoided. While it is true that the goal of diabetes management is to keep your blood sugar in check, your body still needs carbohydrates as a source of energy in order to function properly.

If you’re worried that you might end up eating too many carbs, what you can do is to track the carbs that you eat throughout the day. This way, you can have a rough idea if you need to eat some more carbs or not.

5. Key Takeaways

The food that we eat can have a direct impact on our blood sugar levels. This is especially true for people who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Simple things such as making a meal plan and being mindful of what you eat on a daily basis can go a long way when it comes to managing diabetes. By making sure that you are eating the right kinds of food, and in the right amounts, you can keep your blood sugar levels under control and mitigate the effects of diabetes.

Take the quiz on meal planning now!

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