Nutrition plays an important role when it comes to controlling diabetic symptoms. Knowing what food groups there are and how to best incorporate them into your diet is crucial for maintaining personal health. In particular, those with diabetes benefit greatly from being able to understand and identify how what they eat affects their blood-glucose levels.
Food groups are easy to understand, and your knowledge of them can be immediately applied into your daily diet. Here is a general overview of these nutritional categories with some examples:
- Grains: This group can be further broken down into two sub-categories: refined grains and whole grains. For the most part, you should look at eliminating the former from your diet and substituting them with the latter. Some examples of whole grains are brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, quinoa and a number of other foods, while the refined grains group is primarily comprised of products made from white rice, white bread and pasta. How many grains you need per day depends on a variety of factors such as your age, gender and health habits. That being said, as a general rule most adults should get anywhere between 3-5 servings of whole grains per day.
- Fruits: Fruits are an important part of any diet because of their rich antioxidant and vitamin content that is difficult to find in other foods. However, it is important to remember that they are also naturally high in carbohydrates, which can be problematic for those with diabetes. How much fruit you should include in your diet depends on a number of factors, but as a general rule most adults should aim to consume around 1½-2 cups of it per day.
- Vegetables: Similar to fruits, vegetables are an invaluable component for our nutritional health due to their excellent antioxidant, vitamin and mineral content. They tend to be low in carbohydrates and calories which make them an excellent food choice for those with diabetes. Adults should be looking to eat anywhere between 2 ½-3 cups of vegetables per day.
- Protein foods: This nutritional category is interesting because it includes a number of foods that can be found in other groups. Protein rich foods such as beans, meat, seafood, nuts, peas, eggs, seeds and soy belong here. Women should be looking to get 5-5 ½ ounces of protein per day, and men 6-6 ½ ounces.
- Dairy: This group is composed mainly of high calcium foods. It is important to note however that not all product’s made from cow’s milk fall into this category. Cream cheese and butter for example are not a significant source of calcium, and because of this are excluded from this food group. It is generally recommended that moderately active men and women have about 3 cups of low-fat dairy per day.
As always, we urge you to speak with your doctor or nutritionist if you have any further questions or concerns in regards to food groups.