Alcohol Use and Persons With Diabetes
Alcohol consumption can lower blood sugar levels to the point of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), causing symptoms. A person with diabetes should keep careful track of his/her blood sugar levels when drinking alcohol, because certain diabetes medications, including insulin, also lower blood glucose levels. If levels are too low, or if the stomach is empty, alcohol consumption should be avoided.
The symptoms for alcohol intoxication and hypoglycemia are similar. Symptoms may include fatigue, disorientation, and dizziness. To ensure proper medical care for hypoglycemia, a person with diabetes should carry a card or wear an identification bracelet or necklace indicating that he/she has diabetes.
Alcohol sometimes can cause blood glucose levels to rise, due to the carbohydrates in certain drinks. Consuming alcohol while eating, or right before eating, can cause blood sugar levels to rise, which may be dangerous to the individual.
Healthy Cooking Tips for Persons With Diabetes
A healthy diet is not only critical to proper diabetes management, but will also help in maintaining desirable weight, controlling normal blood sugar levels, and preventing heart diseases.
Always consult your physician, registered dietitian (RD), or nutritionist to assist in planning and preparing healthy meals.
Some healthy cooking tips include the following:
- Use vegetable oil spray instead of oil, shortening, or butter.
- Steam vegetables using a low-fat broth or water.
- Season foods with herbs and spices, vinegar, lemon juice, or salsa.
- Use low- or no-sugar jams instead of butter or margarine.
- Eat or cook cereal with skim milk or 1 percent milk.
- Use low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese, or nonfat yogurt.
- Drink fruit juice that has no added sugar.
- Eat chicken or turkey without the skin.
- Broil, roast, stir-fry, or grill meats. Always buy lean cuts of meat.
- Use lemon or lime on fish and vegetables instead of butter or sauces.
- Use canola or olive oil in food preparation instead of vegetable oils.
- Buy whole grain breads and cereals.
Physicians and other experts can provide helpful resources that further cover meal planning, offer healthy recipes and cooking tips, suggest exercise programs, manage weight, and more. Excellent diabetic reference books and pamphlets are also available through your library or on our resources page.
Blood sugar levels can be controlled to a certain extent with proper diet, exercise, and healthy weight maintenance. A healthy lifestyle can also help control or lower blood pressure and control blood fats, thus reducing the risk for heart disease.
Proper meal planning should include spacing out smaller meals throughout the day to maintain steady blood sugar levels. Eating a big meal only once or twice a day can cause extreme high or low blood sugar levels. In addition, if the exercise regimen is changed, changes should be made to the diet accordingly, to maintain weight control and to control blood sugar levels.
Whether you do or do not have diabetes, following the Choose My Plate guidelines is beneficial to your health. The My Plate plan can help you eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat. The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food plate to guide you in selecting foods.
The My Plate icon is divided into five food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:
- Grains: Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
- Vegetables: Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange kinds, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
- Fruits: Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
- Dairy: Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
- Protein: Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine -- choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet. Others, such as animal fats, are solid and should be avoided.
Exercise and every day physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan.
To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the ChooseMyPlate.gov and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the My Plate plan is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.
Although ChooseMyPlate.gov promotes health, including the prevention of diabetes and its complications, the American Diabetes Association recommends individualized meal plans for people with diabetes. People with diabetes should consult their health care providers and registered dietitians (RD) for guidance with meal planning and physical activity.
The number of servings from each food grouping may differ for a person with diabetes, based on his/her recommended treatment plan, diabetic goals, calorie intake, and lifestyle. There are many tools available to help you follow a diabetes meal plan, including ChooseMyPlate.gov, exchange lists, and carbohydrate counting. Always consult your health care provider or RD for dietary recommendations and daily physical exercise requirements for your situation.
||Grains provide the body with energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Although filled with carbohydrates that raise blood sugar levels quickly, grains are essential to a healthy diet. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Examples of grains include:|
||Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals essential to the body. Some vegetables also contain fiber. Because they are low in calories when eaten raw or cooked, persons with diabetes are encouraged to eat plenty of vegetables. However, persons with diabetes still need to count carbohydrates when they eat vegetables, because even non-starchy vegetables contain some carbohydrates.|
||Fruit can provide energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. How and when to eat fruit or drink fruit juices for a person with diabetes is very specific to that individual. Certain fruits can affect blood sugar levels, and a person may need to experiment with various fruits to determine how fruit affects his/her body through regular blood sugar level monitoring.|
|Milk and yogurt
||Fat-free and low-fat milk and yogurt provide energy, protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Fat-free milk or yogurts also are good foods to treat low blood sugar levels, since they contain the same amount of carbohydrates as one serving of fruit or starch.|
||Foods that contain protein help build muscles and body tissue, in addition to providing vitamins and minerals. Due to the increased risk of heart disease in persons with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that people cut down on animal protein foods. Animal protein foods such as meats, whole milk products, and high-fat cheeses contain saturated fat. Other examples of protein foods include poultry, eggs, fish, and tofu.|
|Fats and oils
||The total fat and oil intake should be based on the individual's cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and lifestyle. Some examples of "healthier" fats and oils (lower in saturated fats and cholesterol and more monounsaturated fats) include olive oil, olives, nuts, canola oil, and avocado.|
||Because diabetes is associated with glucose (sugar) levels in the blood, some people think sugar should be avoided in their diet. However, table sugar and other sugars in a person's diet do not increase blood glucose levels any faster than carbohydrates, according to the American Diabetes Association.|
How much sugar a person with diabetes can consume depends on that person's individual diabetes treatment and nutritional plan, and how well his/her blood sugar levels and blood fats are controlled. Always consult your physician for more specific recommendations.
Sodium and Persons With Diabetes
The average American consumes about 6 to 18 grams (or 1 to 3 teaspoons) of ordinary table salt (or sodium chloride) each day. Persons with diabetes are encouraged to limit the sodium in their diets to help prevent or to control high blood pressure.
The 2010 recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture instruct you to limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. The recommended daily sodium intake is 1,500 mg for African-Americans and for people diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, as well as individuals 51 and older.
- 28 grams = one ounce
- 1 gram divided into 1,000 parts = one milligram (mg) or 1,000 milligrams = one gram
- 5.5 grams of sodium = 1 teaspoon
Most foods contain some sodium, but sodium is often added during the processing of prepared and prepackaged food products. Some examples of foods that are high in sodium include the following:
- Meats - such as bacon, ham, cold cuts (bologna), Canadian bacon, corned beef, hot dogs, Polish and Italian sausages
- Fish - such as canned tuna, salmon, sardines; commercially frozen, pre-breaded, or smoked fish; canned shellfish
- Canned foods - such as vegetables, soups, vegetable and tomato juices
- Prepared or pre-mixed products - such as macaroni and cheese, potato mixes, TV dinners, frozen entrees
- Snacks - such as salted crackers, pretzels, potato chips, commercially-prepared baked goods (such as cookies and doughnuts)
- Other foods - such as olives, pickles, commercially-prepared salad dressings, soy and steak sauces, cheeses
Many food products that are commercially prepared are now available with low sodium content. When buying food products, be sure to check the labels for the symbol Na, or the words sodium, sodium chloride, or soda - which indicate that sodium is present.
Other spices and herbs can be substituted for salt. Salt substitutes are also available. Consult your physician or a registered dietitian (RD) for more specific dietary recommendations.