Type 2 Diabetic Diet Plan Ideas & Recommendations

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Type 2 diabetes results in high blood sugars in the body which can be dangerous and lead to harmful chronic conditions. Read this lesson to learn about how dietary changes can help manage and control type 2 diabetes.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

The human body relies on energy at the cellular level to function, and gets this energy from the food and drinks that we consume. Energy is created from substances like protein, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars that make up our daily diets. The term diabetes is used to describe the process in which the human body is unable to effectively process sugar and turn it into usable energy.

Charlie is a middle-aged business man on a tight schedule who has been living with diabetes for many years. He usually eats at sporadic times whenever he can get a chance, and typically chooses comfort foods and sugary snacks as a way to reward himself for working so hard.

Being a type 2 diabetic, Charlie's pancreas still makes insulin, but his body has become resistant to this hormone, making it useless and ineffective. Insulin is so important because it takes sugar from the bloodstream and transfers it to the cells, therefore providing energy to Charlie's body. To control his type of diabetes, Charlie regularly depends on specially prescribed insulin injections to reduce high levels of sugar in his bloodstream.

Learning Why Change is so Important

After a recent check-up with his primary physician, Charlie learned that despite using insulin injections to control his blood sugars, his sugar levels still ran on the higher side. Due to his busy schedule and little motivation to exercise at the gym, Charlie's physician recommended changes in his diet.

The most important thing for Charlie to understand is how the food he eats impacts his blood sugar levels. Certain foods like starches, carbohydrates, and even some fruits contain sugar that break down into glucose in the bloodstream much faster than other types of foods. When glucose sits in the bloodstream and is not effectively carried into the cells by insulin, it leads to experiencing high blood sugar, or what is known as hyperglycemia.

Understanding what kind of diet he must get used to is critical for Charlie to prevent hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is dangerous because it can lead to:

  • Being excessively tired
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Coma in extreme cases

Long-term effects of consistent hyperglycemia are dangerous, too. They could put Charlie at great risk for kidney and heart disease as well as nerve damage and blindness. With something so simple as dietary modifications, Charlie figures it would be a smart decision to seek advice from a nutritionist, or an educated professional who specializes in designing diets and recommending personalized dietary modifications.

Making Dietary Changes

For Charlie, making changes to his diet required him to make better decisions. He already knew that he had a sweet-tooth and cravings for his favorite fast food restaurant, but he didn't know where to begin on changing his habits. After meeting with his nutritionist, he took away several suggestions that he felt were attainable, or easy to accomplish.

Meal Planning

Charlie liked the idea of meal planning because he learned easy and realistic strategies to make it happen. Because Charlie had mentioned that he did not enjoy or have time to prepare fresh meals all the time, the nutritionist wondered if he could commit to preparing food once or twice a week. Charlie felt that he could work this into his schedule, and was happy to find out he could save quite a bit of money doing this. Charlie found that having food and snacks planned took the stress out of finding food to eat, enabled him to save time, and helped him make better choices on snacks by having healthier options available.

Choosing Wisely

Now that Charlie had agreed to meal planning, the nutritionist taught him healthier foods to shop for. Charlie felt empowered to make decisions on what was actually going onto his plate, as compared to simply eating what was available. He learned to shop for lean meats, whole wheat grains, and to remain aware of fruits and vegetable that were high in starch and sugars. While Charlie did miss meals full of pasta and starchy potatoes, he learned to love expertly grilled chicken and the variety of seasoned vegetables that he never had before.

New Options

By replacing starchy and carbohydrate-laden meals with lean proteins and smart fruits and vegetables, Charlie was able to enjoy the meals he ate without adding high amounts of unnecessary sugars into his blood stream. Some of Charlie's favorite and diabetic-friendly options included:

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