Wednesday, 22 February 2012
When you face a diagnosis of diabetes, you face a number of life changes. While these can feel overwhelming at first, the good news is that you can still enjoy good food. You simply need to eat within the guidelines given to you by your diabetes specialists as you learn to eat for your condition.
How diabetes affects your body
Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults. With this condition, the beta cells in the pancreas do not create insulin, which is necessary properly metabolize sugars. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin supplementation throughout life. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant, and the muscle, liver, and fat cells no longer use insulin properly. Over time, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with this problem, and blood sugar levels increase. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes require patients to pay attention to their diets in order to avoid foods that cause spikes or drops in blood sugar levels.
The American Diabetes Association used to recommend the diabetes food pyramid as a way to monitor and control food intake, but they now advocate the plate method, which teaches diabetics to fill their plates with non-starchy vegetables first, then add starchy foods and meats in smaller portions to balance the meal. Under this method, half of the plate is filled with non-starchy vegetables, with the remaining half divided between starchy foods and meats. This is often combined with carbohydrate counting to best control blood sugar.
Breakfast can be a challenging meal for those diagnosed with diabetes, because the focus in this meal tends to be grains and other carbs. Getting vegetables in at breakfast is sometimes challenging.
The following dish combines sausage, and hash browns with peppers and zucchini to fill the diabetic plate well.
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 2 oz smoked turkey sausage, sliced
- ½ of a small zucchini, halved and sliced
- ½ of a medium red sweet pepper, chopped
- 1 c. frozen hash brown potatoes
- 1 thinly sliced wedge red onion
- ¼ tsp. chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- Salsa to taste
Sauté all ingredients except the salsa over medium heat until vegetables are tender, approximately five minutes. Top with salsa to taste and enjoy. You can roll this into a whole grain tortilla for a quick, diabetic-friendly breakfast burrito.
With recipes like this, a diagnosis of diabetes does not force you to drastically change your diet, and you will find plenty of tasty foods that you can eat while controlling your condition. Choosing healthier options, such as veggies and chicken on your pizza, can make the changes you must make seem far less difficult. You can even enjoy delicious desserts, like cheesecake made with a sugar substitute, while still maintaining your blood sugar. With proper meal planning and a few strategic decisions about what you eat and when, your favorite foods may not be off limits, even with diabetes.