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Can I eat this? ...Meal Planning and Tips
Managing diabetes is a challenge that requires finding the right balance between food, physical activity, and medicine, if needed. Healthful food is key to managing diabetes. Only you can decide what to eat and using a meal plan as a guide can make it easier. Discover more about meal planning options and how MyFoodAdvisor can help.
My Food Advisor is based on a database of about 5,000 foods ranging from basic recipe ingredients like flour to fresh and frozen food to restaurant entrees.
The MyFoodAdvisor database of foods can be searched under Explore Foods by:
- name of a food
- setting nutrition criteria for calories, carbohydrates, saturated fat, fiber and sodium
- browsing a food category
Once you find a food you want to explore further, you can:
- compare it to another food
- ask for healthier alternatives
- add it to your plate to get a grand total of calories, carbohydrate and twenty other nutrients for a meal, a recipe or a whole day of food in our Create a Dish tool!
For the "healthier alternatives" option with MyFoodAdvisor, foods are ranked within each food category getting negative points for saturated fat and sodium and positive points for containing nutrients like dietary fiber or calcium. Because amounts of carbohydrate are similar within each food group, the priority was placed on ranking foods to minimize sodium and saturated fat and promote high-fiber foods.
The food categories are based on the 2007 version of the American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association Exchange Lists for Diabetes. The foods in each category are based on about the same amount of carbohydrate. So the serving sizes that pop up under starches and grains will be different from what you see on the nutrition facts label.
Because managing carbohydrate is the cornerstone of glycemic control, MyFoodAdvisor allows you to view equal amounts of carbohydrate and protein in foods, so you can focus your time on picking foods with the healthiest type of fat and lower sodium foods. By organizing the database this way, you will be able to easily compare foods within each food group to find the best choices for you.
- The serving size for foods in the starch/grain, fruit, and dessert categories will be based on 15 grams of carbohydrate. You can look for foods with the lowest amounts of saturated and trans fat as well as find foods with the most fiber.
- The serving size for foods in the milk/yogurt category is based on 12 grams of carbohydrate. You can search for the dairy products with the smallest amount of saturated fat.
- The serving size for foods in the meat, poultry, fish, and meat alternatives are based on 7 grams of protein. You can easily search for the leanest protein sources (i.e. the lowest amount of saturated fat).
- The serving size for foods in the fat group is based on 5 grams of total fat so you can search for the foods with more monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega 3 fats.
Food category icons help you to identify in which food category a food belongs.
- Milk and yogurt
- Other carbohydrate
- Nonstarchy vegetable
- Meat, lean
- Meat, medium fat
- Meat, high fat
The "Compare foods to" button allows you to put foods side by side. Which has more fat or fiber? It's easy to tell when you can see them at the same time. From comparing foods you can add a food to your Dish, search for a healthier alternative or start your search over again. It's a great way to learn about foods and make decisions about some options you might like to try.
Healthier alternatives are foods within the same category that are overall higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat and sodium than the food you selected. The amount of carbohydrates and protein is about the same for every food in a category, so this allows you to focus on selecting foods with more fiber and less saturated fat and sodium in your diet.
The food alternatives may not be an appropriate substitution for the food you chose, but it will give you ideas of other foods to try at your next meal.
Create a Dish
Want to know how what you eat matches up to your meal plan? Want to analyze your favorite recipes? Help keep yourself on track by using our "Create a Dish" tool. You'll be able to get nutrition information on what you've eaten or tally up the ingredients for your favorite recipe.
Find out if what you're eating has too much carbohydrate or saturated fat or not enough fiber to meet your meal plan goals. Easily see the contribution of each food to the total so you can make adjustments to your favorite meals.
Set your own goals for how much total carbohydrate, calories, saturated fat, sodium and dietary fiber are in your meal plan. you can set goals for a day, a week or just one meal. it's up to you. You can then enter what you actually eat, or plan your meals in the Track it feature and get a comparison of how well the two match up. Don't have a meal plan? You can use our default settings to get you started.
Keep track of what you are eating from day to day or meal to meal. You can add individual foods from the database, recipes from your recipe box, or meals and dishes you've created using the Create a Dish feature. After tracking, get feedback in either a table or graph format to compare how close you are to your goals. If you are not on track with your goals, try using our healthier alternative feature to find other options for your meal plan.
Of the foods you eat, those with carbohydrate raise blood glucose so they are the key to managing blood glucose levels. This does not mean you have to eliminate carbohydrate from your diet. It means you need to think about how much you're eating, make the best choices you can, know your limits, and keep your portions under control.
The other things to keep in mind are cutting back on saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat. All three of these are linked to high blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. So the two main things to consider are carbohydrate and the "bad fats." To help you put it all together it is sometimes easier to follow a guide of what to eat or a meal plan. Two popular types of meal planning are carbohydrate counting and creating your plate.
There are many options that people with diabetes use to help them plan their meals. One of the most popular ways to plan meals is by counting carbohydrates. MyFoodAdvisor can help! Foods that contain carbohydrate raise blood glucose. By keeping track of how many carbohydrates you eat and setting a limit for your maximum amount to eat, you can help to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range. Finding the right amount of carbohydrate depends on many things including how active you are and what medicines you take.
How much carb?
A place to start is at about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at a meal. You may need more or less carbohydrate at meals depending on your activity level, your age and the medicines you take. You can your health care team can figure out the right amount for you. Once you know how much carb to eat at a meal, choose your foods and the portion size to match.
What foods have carbohydrate?
Foods that contain carbohydrate are:
- starchy foods like bread, cereal, rice and cracker
- fruit and juice
- milk and yogurt
- dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers
- starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn
- sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips
Nonstarchy vegetables have a little bit of carbohydrate but in general are very low.
Carbohydrate counting is easier when detailed information is at your fingertips. Using My Food Advisor, you can see how much carbohydrate is in the foods you want to eat and decide how much of the food you can eat. The two most important lines with carbohydrate counting are the serving size and the total carbohydrate amount.
- Look at the serving size. All the information on the label is about this serving of food.
- Look at the grams of total carbohydrate. Total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, starch, and fiber. Know the amount of carb you can eat, figure out the portion size to match.
Other important label information:
- If you are trying to lose weight, look at the calories. Comparing products can be helpful to find those lower in calories per serving.
- To cut risk of heart disease and stroke, look at saturated and trans fats and sodium. Look for products with the lowest amount of saturated and trans fats and sodium per serving.
Protein and Fat
With carbohydrate counting, it is easy to forget about the protein and fat in meals. Always include a source of protein and fat to balance out your meal. Use My Food Advisor to find the meats with the least amount of saturated fat and compare the oils to see which have the most monounsaturated fatty acids.
Create Your Plate
If carbohydrate counting sounds like too much work, there is a meal planning option for you! It's simple and effective for managing diabetes and losing weight. Try these six simple steps:
- Using your dinner plate, put a line down the middle of the plate.
- Then on one side, cut it again so you will have 3 sections on your plate.
- Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.
- Now in one of the small sections, put starchy foods such as noodles, rice, corn, or potatoes.
- And then on the other small section, put your meat or meat substitutes such as fish, chicken, beef, or tofu.
- Add an 8 oz glass of milk and a piece of fruit or a 1/2 cup fruit salad and you have your meal planned. If you don't drink milk, you can add an extra piece of fruit, light yogurt, or a small roll.