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Diabetes Meal Planning Tips from Kraft Foods

When you have diabetes, choosing the right foods might seem challenging. But when you're equipped with a meal plan and a bit of practice, it soon becomes second nature.

Meal Planning

Your meal plan is your roadmap to healthful eating. Your Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator will help develop the best meal plan for you. Here are some popular meal plans for diabetes:

  • Carbohydrate Counting tells you the allowed amount of carbohydrates per meal and snack.
  • The Exchange System tells you the number of food group servings per meal and snack.
  • Calorie Counting tells you the number of calories to eat.
  • The Plate Method helps you visualize what each meal should look like. One half of the plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli, one quarter of the plate should be filled with grains or starchy veggies, such as rice or potatoes, and the remaining quarter of the plate should be for lean meats or meat alternatives.

Whatever your plan, you can use some easy steps to fill in its framework with smart food choices. Here's how:

Supermarket Strategies

  • Be prepared. Nutritious and delicious meals start with having the right foods and ingredients on hand. Before you shop, plan your meals for the week and make a list of the foods you need.
  • Build on the basics. Choose whole grains; fresh, frozen and canned fruits and veggies (pick fruits packed in water or juice and veggies without added sauces or salt); lean meats; skinless poultry; and fat-free or low-fat milk, plain or artificially sweetened yogurt and reduced or low-fat cheese.
  • Enlist labels. Read the Nutrition Facts Panel on packages to choose foods that best fit your meal plan. Find help reading food labels at Nutrition Facts Tool and Tips.
  • Trade fat or sugar, not good taste. Look for light or fat-free salad dressing, mayonnaise and sour cream, and sugar-free sweets such as cookies, pudding and gelatin. Remember to read labels because fat-free and sugar-free foods still contain calories and have varying amounts of total carbohydrate. Find more Smart Sweet Tooth Tips.
  • Stock up on staples. Keep ingredients on hand for a few favorite quick-to-fix meals when time is tight or you're tired.

In the Kitchen

  • Lighten up. Reduce fat by trimming meats and removing poultry skin. Bake, broil and grill foods. Reduce sugar in baked goods such as muffins, cakes and cookies or replace sugar with a low-calorie sweetener that’s suitable for baking.
  • Learn recipe tricks. For example, lighten up mashed potatoes by adding fat free milk and a bit of “light” margarine instead of whole milk and butter. Or, substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes for a carb-trimmed treat.
  • Boost flavor. Instead of adding salt, prepare foods with herbs, spices and zesty ingredients like mustard and horseradish.

On Special Occasions

  • Figure your "budget." Before the big event, decide how many carbohydrates or calories you'll "spend" on your food choices—and stick to it.
  • Take the edge off your appetite. About an hour before the event, eat a small snack such as an apple and a slice of reduced-fat cheese or a serving of whole-grain crackers with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, so you'll feel in control. Be sure to count the snack in your meal plan, as it is not "free."
  • Mind your portions. Follow the amounts in your meal plan as closely as possible. Savor small portions and pass up second helpings. For more help with portion control, see our Portion Size Guide.
  • Bring your own. Bring a dish to share that you can enjoy, such as a platter of colorful cut-up veggies with a low-fat dip. This can help keep you on track and in control.

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diabetes meal planning
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