Diabetes Meal Plan Ideas & Tips To Help You Achieve Optimal Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes meal planning can be stressful. When you consider all you need to know about carbs, carb counting, portion sizes, fiber, heart health and more, planning any meal can turn into a hard to navigate maze. Some foods that we know are safe to eat, like vegetables, can seem boring if you eat them on their own or prepare them the same way. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you this quick guide to meal planning the diabetes-friendly style.
Since healthy meals can be tossed under the rug with a busy lifestyle, this article will give you a guide of some diabetes friendly foods that help you to lower blood sugar levels naturally and how to easily incorporate them into quick to prepare, delicious, one dish meals.
What’s a One Dish?
A one dish, or one-pot meals, are meals where various types of foods are added together, usually in the same pot, pan or bowl. My goal in creating one dishes, is to create a diabetes-friendly nutrition filled dish that has all of your diabetes essential food categories in one dish and helps you balance your blood sugar levels. There are hundreds of combinations with one-dish meals, which is great if you like to get creative in the kitchen or enjoy testing out new taste sensations.
Before we move forward about what to eat as part of your meal plan, it’s important to first understand a few diabetes wellness basics:
How To Split A Plate When Meal Planning For Type 2 Diabetes:
When you arrange your plate, split your plate into 3 sections, you will more easily be able to put together a diabetes friendly balanced meal. A great guideline to follow is to have 50-65% of your plate filled with low starch vegetables such as kale, broccoli, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, etc. (or you can split this portion with mostly vegetables in addition to some low glycemic fruits). The remainder of your plate can be a combination of 25% protein and 20% grains or starches such as sweet potato, quinoa, barley, etc.
Carb Counting As Part Of Your Diabetes Meal Planning:
Eating starchy carbs will raise your blood sugar levels fast and keep them elevated for a longer period of time . That’s why there is a great diabetes tool called the Glycemic Index (GI), which places foods into low, medium or high sugar rising categories. The goal is in eating more food choices in the low GI category that are rich in the nutrients your body needs to help you prevent and stop internal inflammation and complications. Great options include berries, zucchini, beans, oatmeal, quinoa, bran, and most nuts.
Adding Fiber To Your Meal Plan
Another diabetes friendly principle is to add fiber to every meal and even every snack . It’s super easy to do! Flax seeds, chia seeds, apples, steel cut oats, nuts, beans, popcorn, lentils, avocados and more are great examples to add to your list..
When Should You Eat?
When you learn the secrets to balancing your blood sugar levels, you can have so much freedom with food and make choices you cannot even imagine. As you are learning these secrets, it is necessary to first start out with eating your 3 meals at roughly the same time each day, and you can add in delicious blood sugar friendly snacks too. It is best to avoid food after 8.00 pm at night and 2.5 -3 hours before you go to bed.
What Are Some Good Meals For Diabetes?
A good meal is essentially anything that contains a bit of everything we mentioned above: your plate is split into portion sizes by food category, the foods you choose will include more of the low GI foods and high fiber foods, and you are eating your meals at regular times each day. We feel a good meal is loaded with nutrition, easy to prepare, and tastes amazing. That’s why we LOVE one dishes!
Important To Note: Its best to achieve balanced blood sugar levels when you limit and avoid
- Added sugars
- Refined grains such as white bread or white rice
- Junk or processed foods
One Dish Ideas For Your Ideal Diabetes-Friendly Kitchen!
So here they are. Some one-dish ideas to get you started with combining foods for diabetes wellness that will skyrocket your energy and help you balance your blood sugar levels. When deciding how much from each food category to include, be sure to refer to the guidelines above: 50-60% vegetables and some fruit choices, and the remainder of the ingredients split between proteins and grains.
There is nothing more satisfying than a hearty salad with a flavourful dressing. Start with your greens, and then add in additional colourful veggies such as peppers, carrots, avocados and more. Try adding a roasted starch such as roasted sweet potatoes, and then add a protein such as baked chicken, roasted nuts, or chickpeas. Finally, test out a homemade or fruit infused dressing. With this type of combo, you are well on your way to a fantastic, nutritionally balanced and delicious meal that will keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Traditional One Pan or Pot meals:
As with the salad idea, mixing all your food categories into one hot dish can make your taste buds dance without adding spikes to your blood sugar levels. So start with a pan, then line it with i.e. brussel sprouts and squash. Top with your protein i.e. salmon. Add a homemade sauce. You’ll get your starch, your vegetables and protein, in a unique flavour combination.
Another fantastic way to mix flavours while ensuring you are eating a well-balanced, diabetes friendly meal, is by creating a noodle bowl. Use whole grain noodles such as kamut, quinoa, or spelt. Cook according to the directions. Next, stir-fry a variety of your favourite vegetables in toasted sesame oil. In a bowl, add the cooked noodles to one side, the vegetables to the other, and some chopped cooked chicken or beef to the other side. Pour heated low sodium chicken broth on top and top the entire thing with chopped onions, chopped peanuts, and a sprinkle of lime juice. Yum -filled and nutritious.
Soups are easy to make and a great way to load in vegetables for added flavour. You can start with extra virgin olive oil, then stir in fresh minced garlic and onions, carrots, celery, peppers and other vegetables. This will allow them to release their flavours. Next add in starches such as whole grain pasta i.e. spelt or kamut pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, lentils or beans (soaked overnight). Cover with a low sodium protein based or vegetable broth of your choice and cook for 30 min to a few hours to further release the flavours. Note: if adding beans, allow your soup to cook for at least 2 hours.
Another fantastic way to get your plate portions all into one dish, is by creating a stir-fry. The trick with stir-fries is using a rich, flavourful, but diabetes-friendly sauce. Simply stir-fry your favourite chopped vegetables in a little oil, add garlic, onions, fresh pepper, some spicy chilli peppers (if you like the kick) and add in a protein such as tofu, or cooked chicken or lean beef. For the sauce, try mixing a little low sodium broth and soy sauce in a bowl. Add a little arrowroot in place of cornstarch and whisk it all together. You can also add crushed garlic and ginger. Pour the mixture over your stir-fry and let it all cook for a few more minutes. Add sesame seeds for added flavour and nutrition.
And there you have it. Multiple ideas to use when planning your next meals.
Now of course, a flavourful diabetes-friendly meal does not have to be a one dish! I’ve personally created multiple chef-inspired, diabetes-friendly recipes that I credit as helping me have all day energy while helping me balance my blood sugars. The meals I choose help me achieve healthy A1Cs every 3 months life clockwork. So, I Know these diabetes-friendly food tips and meals really work. If you see a pop up, that’s your gateway to a sample one-day meal plan including all meals and snacks for one entire day. It will give you a clear snapshot of what a typical diabetes friendly food day looks like, and one that I’m happy to share with you.
Diabetes Friendly meal planning can be fun and simple. I know this guide will inspire you to try new recipes and food combinations and help you naturally balance your blood sugars, giving you energy and added health, every day!