Take Time to Plan
These meal plans are based on the diabetes exchange lists. The exchange lists have helped many people with diabetes (as well as those without diabetes) to lose and/or maintain weight. There are four meal plans offered with the following approximate caloric levels: 1,300 calories, 1,600 calories, 1,900 calories, and 2,200 calories.
Many women can maintain weight on 1,600–1,900 calories and lose weight on 1,300 calories. Women that are very small or inactive may need less, and extremely active women may need more. Many men can maintain weight on 1,900–2,200 calories and lose weight on approximately 1,600 calories. Websites such as USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine may be useful to help determine your individual caloric level. If your goal is to lose weight, it usually is recommended not to lose more than 1–2 pounds (2.2–4.4 kg) per week.
Remember, in order to lose weight, exercise should be a major part of your plan, if possible. Exercise helps burn calories, tone your body, and keep your heart fit! Ask your physician about how much exercise you need and can safely perform.
Follow these steps to plan your meals:
Ask your medical team what calorie level you need. You may use the government health sites to help you determine appropriate calorie levels.
Select your favorite recipes from this book.
Plan meals using an appropriate number of exchanges in each food group for each meal and snack. (Exchanges in a heart-healthy diet include starch, fruit, skim milk, nonstarchy vegetables, lean meats and meat substitutes, and monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.) Plan at least 3–4 days of meals at once. If special conditions are needed, share your planned meals with your medical team. Use the plan to shop and stock your pantry; with the right foods available, making your meals will be easy.
You should spread out calories throughout the day, and eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner, and a snack. It is usually alright to change the meal plan slightly and borrow exchanges from one meal or snack to use elsewhere in the day. With medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes, meals and snacks need to be consumed based on the type and time of insulin used. Consult your RD for advice and education.