In nutrition, diet refers to the amount of food ingested by an organism or individual. It is used as a measure of intake and a standard for tracking food intake, both for health and weight management. A well-balanced diet can promote health, prevent disease, and improve life expectancy. Some dietary guidelines are recommended for healthy eating.
The consumption of foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) is recommended for people with diabetes. GI refers to the Glycemic Index of a food’s sweetness, texture and concentration of carbohydrates, counting all the possible sugars and other nutrients that can cause spikes in blood sugar levels after eating. High GI foods typically have little nutrient value. These include some types of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. The recommended daily allowance of carbohydrates is about 70 grams for men and 55 for women. Eating a balanced diet that has a low GI can keep diabetes at bay.
Diets low in saturated fat are also beneficial to maintaining diabetes. A diet low in saturated fat should comprise about 30% of the daily calories. Saturated fat increases cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Most diets recommend replacing hydrogenated oils, which are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, with unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, fish, poultry meats and organ meats like liver.
A balanced diet for weight loss should also contain adequate fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The recommended diet is one with about 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 35% from protein, and the rest from fiber. Good carbohydrates include whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes, and rice. Good proteins include chicken, turkey, red meat, and fish. Good minerals include those found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes such as beans and lentils. Good carbohydrates and proteins provide fuel to burn, maintain energy, and facilitate weight loss.
For a more comprehensive list of terms and definitions of terms related to nutrition and diet, check out the “Glossary of Medical Terminologies” at the ADA website. An important exception to the general rule regarding carbohydrates is that the word “fiber” can be used to mean any of the three main kinds of carbohydrates -in this sentence, only “starchy” is meant. The three main types of carbohydrates are: complex (e.g., brown or white bread), simple (e.g., rice, pasta, rice cakes) and unprocessed (e.g., wheat bread). Other categories of carbohydrates are generally recognized in everyday language, but the ADA uses the term “complex carbohydrate” to indicate any one of the three.
For a successful weight loss program, there must be a well-balanced diet including a well-balanced dose of protein, carbohydrates, and unsaturated fat. For anyone with diabetes, the key to diet success is to follow a well-balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in unsaturated fat. If you have or think you may have type 2 diabetes or another metabolic disorder, it is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before altering your diet, regardless of the diet advice given in this entry 1. Diabetes is a medical condition that requires special treatment and should never be attempted without careful assessment and a physician’s recommendation.