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Recipes and Cooking Tips for Those With Diabetes

What makes a recipe OK for someone with diabetes? No sugar? No fat? And what about your family's favorite recipes? Do you need to toss them out and find new cookbooks just because someone has diabetes?

Keep those favorite recipes on hand! If you remember the basics of diabetes meal planning, you can turn almost any recipe into diabetes-friendly food.

Editor's Note: Food Pyramid Replaced

In June 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with a new plate icon.

Here's how to get started.

Diabetes Meal-Planning Basics

The first step in preparing diabetes-friendly recipes is to remember meal-planning guidelines. People with diabetes manage meal planning in a variety of ways. The most recommended approaches include:

  • Exchange lists. These lists provide detailed information about the carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of foods you eat every day. A dietitian works with you to develop a meal plan listing how many exchanges from each food group you should eat each day. Exchange lists are designed to ensure you get all the nutrients you need for good health along with a controlled amount of carbohydrates to control your diabetes. For example, your meal plan may have three bread exchanges, two fruit exchanges, one meat exchange, and one fat exchange for breakfast.
  • Counting carbs. Counting carbohydrates helps you understand how each type of carbohydrate you eat affects your blood sugar. You work with a dietitian to develop the number of and kinds of carbohydrates you should eat each day. Then you monitor your blood sugar level to determine the effect of these various carbs and adjust insulin injections accordingly. You also adjust the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat as needed.

Whatever method you use, the goals are the same: to eat a balanced diet that helps keep blood sugar levels close to normal. But what does "balanced" mean? And how can you make sure recipes reflect this balance?

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Choose a variety of foods from all the food groups.
  • Choose foods that are richest in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. These choices tend to include more fresh and less processed foods -- for example, whole grains and fresh vegetables.
  • Choose fatty ingredients wisely. Low-fat and "good" fats are your best bets.
  • Watch your portions. Even the best foods can be harmful to your health if you eat too much.

Whatever meal plan approach you follow, you can use these guidelines to make recipes diabetes-friendly.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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