Know the Food Types
Creating a healthy meal plan starts by learning more about foods and how they affect your blood sugar. The more you know, the better you can create a healthy plan that not only fits your personal tastes, but also may help control blood sugar levels.
Remember, read nutrition labels carefully, especially on low-fat and fat-free dairy products because their sugar content can be more than you think.
Fruits can be healthy and taste great, too! They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
But remember, fruits also have carbs in them, so it’s important to count your fruit servings as part of your meal plan. Fruits come in all different sizes. A large piece of fruit has more carbs, so you may need to eat a smaller portion. You can ask a dietitian for details on how many carbs are in your favorite fruits or use the Nutrition & Carbohydrate Lookup. A piece of fresh or frozen fruit for dessert is a healthy alternative because, along with added health benefits, it gives you a sweet treat.
The right choice of vegetables can help you pack vitamins and minerals into each meal. There are 2 main types of vegetables: starchy and non-starchy. Non-starchy vegetables have fewer carbs, which may make them a good choice for your meal plan. Here are some vegetables that may include non-starchy, lower carb choices:
- Farm fresh vegetables
- Frozen vegetables
- Canned vegetables without sauces; sauces can add fat and salt
Draining canned vegetables and rinsing them before you cook them in fresh water can cut down on the salt used to preserve them.
Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:
- Beans (green, wax, Italian)
- Bean sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
- Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
Lean protein-rich foods should be a part of a healthy meal plan.
Foods high in protein include:
- Soy products
Choices that are lower in saturated fats include:
When choosing fish, look for ones high in healthy omega-3 fish oil such as:
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing protein foods for your meal plan:
- 2 to 5 ounces of meat is a healthy portion for 1 meal
- Nuts and seeds can also provide protein and healthy fats
- Plant-based proteins, such as tofu or soybeans can have carbs in them, so be sure to check nutrition labels
The truth about fat
There’s more than one type of fat in food. Good fats can help protect your heart and lower cholesterol. Bad fats raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Knowing the difference can help you make the best meal plan for you.
- Monounsaturated: olive, peanut, and canola oils
- Polyunsaturated: corn, soybean, and sunflower oils
- Saturated: This type of fat is found mostly in animal products, such as butter and meat. But it's also in tropical oils (coconut and palm). According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), less than 10% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fat
- Trans fats: This type of fat is also unhealthy in large amounts. It can be found in processed foods and fast foods like French fries. You can improve your meal plan by eating little to no trans fats
Try to eat or drink less sugar. Before you buy fat-free foods, compare the amount of carbs and calories in them to the regular version.