The statistics on diabetes in the US are shocking: 18.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, 7 million remain undiagnosed, and about 79 million people are pre-diabetic. Of course, diet plays a huge role in maintaining health for those with diabetes. If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may be feeling overwhelmed with all of the dietary requirements. Luckily, it can be fairly easy to calculate glycemic index and find diabetic-appropriate meals.
Calculating The Glycemic Load of Your Meals
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effect that a particular food has on your blood sugar level. A GI level can range from 0-100, glucose being 100 and foods with no carbs being 0. GIs can be found on diabetes databases for nearly every food, so just look your foods up online to calculate GI. The glycemic load (GL) is a ranking system for carbohydrate content in food portions based on their glycemic index and it combines both quality and quantity of the carbohydrates into one number, giving you the best way to gauge how blood glucose levels will change for different types and amounts of food.
You can approximate GL of a meal with simple calculations, multiplying the absolute GI value by the grams of available carbohydrates in the serving and dividing by 100:
GL = GI * Grams of Available Carbs / 100
For example, 1 cup of sliced bananas, or 225 g, has a GI of 52 and carb content of 45.5 g. Therefore, GL = 52 * 45.5 / 100 = 24. The GL of 1 cup of sliced bananas is therefore 24.
Use the GL of your meals to make sure that you are maintaining safe blood sugar levels.
Organizing the Food on Your Plate
While calculating GL and trying to determine your glucose levels, you may want to stick to a few rules which could help anyone struggling with diabetes eat healthier:
- Fill the largest section of plate (about half of your dish) with non-starchy veggies, like broccoli, salad, green beans, and tomato.
- Only 25% of your plate should be allotted to a small serving of starchy foods, like potatoes, corn, or rice.
- The remaining 25% of your plate should be allocated for meat or a meat substitute, like beef, tofu, chicken, or turkey.
- You can also add an 8oz glass of milk and a fruit salad for a complete meal.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, diabetic meal planning is easy once you learn the basics, like how to calculate glycemic load and organize your plate. Just stick to these rules and you’ll be healthier than ever.