What’s in a Healthy Meal Plan?

Many people find that it helps not to think of their meal plan as a “diet.” After all, no one could “follow a diet” for the rest of their lives. If you are on a diet, it’s easy to go off your diet.

And once off, it’s even easier to stay off. “Well, I’ve already blown my diet for today, so another slice of cheesecake won’t hurt,” you might think. But that will only make matters worse.

Instead, think of your meal plan as a new way of eating. But in planning for that new way of life, make sure you work with your dietitian to develop a plan you can stick with. If your goal is to lose pounds, a low-calorie diet may look good on paper, but if you can’t use it, it won’t do any good.

In working out your nutrition plan, your dietitian or diabetes educator can work with you to achieve your goals.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight, maybe you want to shed a few pounds. Or maybe you want to manage your blood glucose levels through careful meal planning. If you have type 1 diabetes, you may want to learn to balance food intake with insulin. Or you may want to find out how your diet fits in with intensive management.

Once you decide on your weight, activity, and blood glucose goals, you need to work out a meal plan.

Tell your dietitian about foods you absolutely can’t stand, foods you can’t do without, family food traditions, your schedule, how you like to cook, and how often you eat away from home. Your nutrition counselor can help you make a plan that will work for you and help you reach your goals. Just as finding the right treatment plan takes time and experience, so does finding the right meal plan.

Just what is involved in devising a healthy meal plan? A helpful food plan will make it easier, not harder, to manage blood glucose levels. Your eating plan should

  •   include foods you like and that are important for you;
  •   take your daily activities and schedule into account;
  •   be flexible;
  •   help you keep your blood glucose levels within your target range;
  •   help you reach and maintain a healthy weight;
  •   help prevent diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, which are linked to diet.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

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