In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas can do longer release insulin. The high blood sugar that results can lead to complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, and cardiovascular disease

Medical nutrition therapy for TYPE 1 Diabetes Management

In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas can do longer release insulin. The high blood sugar that results can lead to complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, and cardiovascular disease. Glycemic index and glycemic load are scientific terms used to measure the impact of a food on blood sugar. Foods with low glycemic load (index) raise blood sugar modestly, and thus are better choices for people with diabetes. Meal timing is very important for people with type 1 diabetes. Meals must match insulin doses. Eating meals with a low glycemic load (index) makes meal timing easier. Low glycemic load meals raise blood sugar slowly and steadily, leaving plenty of time for the body (or the injected insulin dose) to respond. Skipping a meal or eating late puts a person at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Foods to eat for a type 1 diabetic diet include complex carbohydrates such as

  • brown rice,
  • quinoa,
  • oatmeal,
  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • beans, and
  • lentils.

Foods to avoid for a type 1 diabetes diet include

    • sodas (both diet and regular),
    • simple carbohydrates – processed/refined sugars (white bread, pastries, chips, cookies, pastas),
    • trans fats (anything with the word hydrogenated on the label), and high-fat animal products.
  • Fats don’t have much of a direct effect on blood sugar but they can be useful in slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • Protein provides steady energy with little effect on blood sugar. It keeps blood sugar stable, and can help with sugar cravings and feeling full after eating. Protein-packed foods to include on your menu are beans, legumes, dairy, peas, tofu.
  • Five type 1 diabetes “superfoods” to eat include fiber, vinegar, cinnamon, and berries.
  • The Vegan diet plan is often recommended for people with type 1 diabetes because it is full of nutrient-dense foods, including lots of fresh vegetables, some fruit, plant-fats such as olive oil and nuts. When dining out, ask questions about what a dish contains or how it’s prepared, review menus online before you go, and let your friends and family know your dietary restrictions beforehand.

What carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are recommended for a type 1 diabetes diet?

Carbohydrates for a type 1 diabetes diet menu

Carbohydrates are the primary food category that raises blood sugar. Carbohydrates can be classified as simple sugars or complex carbohydrates. Most people think about breads, pastas, sweets, and baked goods when they think about carbs. Fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates, but the high amounts of fibre and nutrition make them good options despite the carbs.Complex carbohydrates are in their whole food form and include additional nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and smaller amounts of proteins and fats. These additional nutrients slow down the absorption of the glucose and keep blood sugar more stable. Examples of complex carbohydrates are

  • brown rice,
  • quinoa,
  • vegetables,
  • steel-cut oatmeal,
  • fruits,
  • beans, and
  • lentils.

Simple carbohydrates are easily recognized as “white foods,” for example,

  • sugar,
  • pasta,
  • white bread,
  • flour,
  • cookies,
  • pastries, and
  • white potatoes.

Simple carbohydrates contain few other nutrients to slow down sugar absorption and thus these foods raise blood sugar dangerously fast. A type 1 diabetes diet restricts simple carbohydrates in favor of healthier options.

Fats for a type 1 diabetes diet menu

  • Fats have little direct effect on blood sugar; however, as part of a meal, they are useful in slowing down the absorption of carbohydrate.
  • Fats also have effects on health that are not related to blood sugar. For example, animal-meat fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, dairy, and specifically fermented dairy such as yogurt appear to decrease this risk.
  • Plant-based fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado are associated with lower disease risk.
  • Fat also contributes to feelings of satiety and can play a role in managing overeating and carbohydrate cravings.

Protein for a type 1 diabetes diet menu

Protein provides slow steady energy with relatively little effect on blood sugar. Protein also provides the body with steady energy and helps it body heal and repair.The healthiest proteins for a type 1 diabetes diet come from plant sources such as

  • beans,
  • lentils,
  • nuts and nut butters,
  • seeds,
  • peas, and
  • soy foods.

Other good protein choices include

  • beans,
  • legumes,
  • vegan dairy products,
  • peas,
  • tofu and soy foods, and

Protein should always be part of a meal or snack. Protein not only keeps blood sugar stable, but it also helps with sugar cravings and feeling satisfied. Protein can come from both animal or plant sources, however, animal proteins are often sources of unhealthy saturated fat.Proteins to avoid include those that increase inflammation and cardiovascular risks such as

  • red meats, and
  • ultra-pasteurized, non-organic milk, cheese, and other dairy products.

What grains and starches are recommended for a type 1 diabetes diet plan?

Grains and starchy vegetables

Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are good sources of fiber and nutrients and have a low glycemic load. This makes them good choices. Processed food labels make it very confusing to understand whole grains. For example “whole wheat bread” is made in many different ways and some of it is not really that different from white bread in its blood sugar impact (glycemic load). The same is true for whole grain pasta – it’s still pasta. Whole grains will require less insulin because of their low glycemic load. The best way to understand them is to check the nutrition label. Find the grams of dietary fiber and subtract that from the total carbohydrate. That number should be less than 25 per serving. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, corn, and other root vegetables are higher in carbohydrates than green vegetables but lower than refined grains. They also are good sources of nutrients such as vitamin C. They are best eaten in smaller portions (1 cup) with an additional dose of insulin to cover 1 serving of carbohydrate.

Non-starchy vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, can be eaten in abundance. These foods have limited impact on blood sugar and also have many health benefits, so eat up! Almost everyone can eat more vegetables – we need at least 5 servings a day. Fresh vegetables are a great option, and usually the tastiest option. However, studies show that frozen veggies have just as many vitamins and nutrients because they are often frozen within hours of harvesting. Just check to make sure there aren’t added fats or sweeteners in the sauces that are on some frozen veggies. If you don’t like vegetables on their own, try preparing them with fresh or dried herbs, olive oil, or a vinaigrette dressing. Even adding a small amount of butter to your veggies is better than not eating them at all. Aim to consume vegetables in a rainbow of colors. This is a good way to get all of your nutrients.

What foods should be avoided if you have type 1 diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods that everyone should limit. In short, this means restricting processed foods and food with a high glycemic load. This includes

  • sodas (both diet and regular),
  • processed/refined sugars (white bread, pastries, chips, cookies, pastas),
  • trans fats (anything with the word hydrogenated on the label), and
  • high-fat animal products

Restrict “white foods” i.e. pasta, bread, scones, cookies, flour, sugar, white potato, etc. This is an easy way to remove high glycemic load foods. It is important to remember that, unlike type 2 diabetes, food choices didn’t specifically contribute to developing type 1 diabetes but they do impact how someone manages diabetes. People with type 1 and 2 diabetes alike are at risk for the complications that stem from high blood sugar, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. Because of this, attention to healthy eating is important and foods that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease should be avoided.

What diets are recommended for a type 1 diabetes eating plan?

Foods to include in a meal plan

  • Insulin-matched whole-grain carbohydrates
  • Vegan diet foods
  • Nutrient dense, highly colourful foods
  • Low glycemic load diet plans

People with type 1 diabetes should follow the same healthy meal plans as all other people interested in preventing chronic disease. However, they must be more aware of the carbohydrate content of their meals so they can match their insulin dose appropriately. In order to do so, there are a few rules of thumb that can be followed.

  • In general, one unit of insulin covers 15 grams of carbohydrate. This is equivalent to 1/2 c of whole grains, 1 cup of starchy veggies (such as squash or sweet potato), or even less of a refined (white) carbohydrate. This is a generality, and each person with type 1 diabetes needs to know his or her personal insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio. The ratio changes depending on the duration of diabetes, level of physical activity, and body weight. Insulin dosing also needs to be adjusted to take into account the blood glucose level before the meal. If blood sugar is above the target level, for example above 120, additional units of insulin are added to further bring it down. Generally, one additional unit will reduce blood sugar by about 50 points, but again, this varies for each individual.
  • A healthy meal plan should include good quality protein, healthy fats, and smaller amounts of complex carbohydrates. While many public health guidelines recommend 45%-65% carbohydrate, research (including my own) demonstrates that dietary restriction of carbs allows people with diabetes to use less insulin, have more stable blood sugar, and feel better.
  • When carbohydrates are consumed, they should be low glycemic load.
  • When fats and proteins are consumed, they should primarily come from plant sources.

This type 1 diabetes diet plan is full of very nutrient-dense foods, meaning you get a lot of vitamins, minerals and other healthful properties for every calorie consumed.

5 Diabetes superfoods

Superfoods are foods that benefit your health beyond providing calories or fats, protein, or carbohydrates. Superfoods may be particularly rich in types of vitamins or other nutrients that are uniquely beneficial for people with type 1 diabetes. Superfoods are the opposite of diet restrictions – you can eat superfoods abundantly.

  • Fiber is a superfood because it brings down the glycemic load of any meal, increases a feeling of fullness (satiety), and stabilizes bloods sugar. A recent study demonstrated that fiber not only helps reduce cardiovascular risk among people with type 1 diabetes, it also reduces inflammation. Furthermore, oat fiber is beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include
    • berries,
    • Flex & chia Seed
    • oatmeal,
    • apples and pears,
    • lentils, and
    • peas
  • Include superfood like flax seed Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Hemp seeds, Flax seeds, Chia seeds because they are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Vinegar is best consumed as vinaigrette dressing on your salad, but it has beneficial effects no matter how you enjoy it. Vinegar, or acetic acid, slows gastric emptying, which has several beneficial effects for people with type 1 diabetes. This slows the glucose release into the blood stream, thereby allowing for a small, steady insulin response instead of a large insulin surge. Vinegar also increases satiety, so if you enjoy salad with vinaigrette as your first course, you are less likely to overeat during the main course.
  • Cinnamon has been proven to lower blood glucose in humans, including people with type 1 diabetes. Cinnamon lowers both fasting and after meals (postprandial) glucose. It has been studied in a number of trials and systematic reviews. Cinnamon also is high in polyphenols which help prevent complications of diabetes.
  • Berries are a surprise diabetes superfood. Even though they are sweet-tasting, berries have a well-balanced glycemic load of fiber to fructose. This means the benefits outweigh the harms of the added fructose and sugars. The dark pigments that give berries their color are high in polyphenols which have high antioxidant activity. The more colorful the foods we eat, the more polyphenols we get.

What about drinking alcohol and type 1 diabetes?

For most people with type 1 diabetes, the same guidelines for moderate alcohol consumption apply as they do to everyone. Research shows that one alcoholic drink per day for women and two a day for men reduces cardiovascular risk, and doesn’t have a negative impact on diabetes. However, alcohol can lower blood sugar so it is important to be aware of hypoglycemia and to check blood sugar levels before having an alcoholic drink. Having food with your alcoholic drink will help minimize the risk for hypoglycemia. It is also important to know that hypoglycemia symptoms often mimic those of intoxication. It is a good idea to wear a diabetes alert bracelet so that people know to offer food if you demonstrate hypoglycemic symptoms. It is also important to remember that mixed alcoholic drinks and cocktails (i.e. margaritas) are often made with sweeteners that contain lots of carbohydrate. These drinks will increase blood sugar.

But always follow the medical nutrition therapy under the guidance as meal plans vary depending on body type, activity and blood reports

  • brown rice,
  • Quinoa,
  • oatmeal,
  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • beans,
  • lentils.