When diagnosed with diabetes, it is crucial to watch what you eat. Limiting calories to 1200 a day can have some great health benefits as well, without feeling like you have to starve yourself. Before beginning any diet for diabetics, please check with your doctor.
It really helps to eliminate all the junk and focus on clean, healthy eating. Having a daily meal plan is a great idea, but for some people, meal prepping or planning can be quite challenging. Questions start popping up such as “Where do I start?” “How do I know how much food a 1200 calorie diet needs?” “How do you measure calories, anyway?”
It’s actually really simple, and you won’t need fancy recipes to do the job.
What is a Good Diet for Diabetes?
When you are on a diet for diabetics, it means you should be eating the healthiest foods in moderation. This diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods that are low in saturated or trans-fat and calories. As a matter of fact, a diabetic diet is the recommended diet for everyone – not just diabetics. Here is a great website with some awesome recipes to create a vegetarian diet for diabetics.
The key ingredients in a good Diet for Diabetics are:
- Healthy carbs: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.
- Fiber-rich food: fruits, nuts, legumes, whole wheat flour and wheat bran
- Fish: cod, tuna, and halibut have less total fat and saturated fat than meat and poultry. Mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines, and bluefish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which lower triglycerides.
- Lean meat and poultry: lean beef or pork, chicken, eggs, turkey, and others.
- Healthy fats: avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives, and canola, olive, and peanut oils.
It may seem a little obvious for diabetics not to eat sugary treats but we all need a refresher every now and then. If you find it hard eliminating these foods from your diet, limit your intake instead to 2 to 3 times a week.
- Cakes, pies, and cookies
- Jelly, jam, and preserves
- Table sugar, honey, molasses, and syrup
- Regular ice cream, sherbet, regular and frozen yogurt, fruit ices, and popsicles
- Regular soda, fruit drinks (canned or concentrated), and drinks with added sugar
- Milkshakes, chocolate milk, hot cocoa mix
- Sugar coated cereals, granola, breakfast or snack bars
- Canned fruit with heavy syrup, dried fruit, fruit-roll ups, candied fruit
- Iced sweet bread, coffee cakes, breakfast rolls and donuts
Important Tips to Remember:
- Eat a balanced meal three times a day with light snacks in between.
- Consume more fiber through vegetables or whole grains. When looking at food labels, you should look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Your meals should be spaced four to five hours from each other at least.
- Bake, broil, and grill your food as much as possible.
- Exercise improves your blood sugar level, but be sure to check in with your doctor before you begin any exercise to avoid injury or health problems.
- If you are overweight, lose weight. Losing even a small amount of weight (five to ten pounds) will immediately improve your blood sugar level. But if you are faithfully following a diabetic diet program, your weight will come off naturally.
Caution: A 1,200-Calorie Diet Is Not For Everyone
This diet for diabetics is not applicable to every person who has diabetes. When it comes to weight loss, this caloric level is actually too low and may cause a negative effect on people’s metabolism. This diet may also not give you enough carbs to make up for medications or prevent hypoglycaemia.
Nevertheless, a 1200 calorie diet will work for some diabetics. It will usually meet the energy needs of people who are small in weight and size, 65 years old or older, and/or are less active. These factors will determine whether you are eligible to a 1200 calorie diet. Only alter your diet when it is prescribed by your physician.
Create Your Own Meal Plan
A 1200 calorie diet means you cannot eat more than 1200 calories per day. There isn’t one meal plan that will work for every diabetic. Experimentation is key. Find out what works for you. Here are quick methods to help you start planning your meals:
- Balance your plate. In every meal, you would want to eat a balanced meal but still keep it simple. You want a balance of non-starchy vegetables, protein, carbs, healthy fat, and fruits.
- Fruits: One serving of fruit is 1 small, fresh fruit.
- Vegetables: The vegetables should be non-starchy. The perfect examples would be green leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans.
- Grains: Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains.
- Healthy fat: You can add half a slice of avocado or 1 cup fat-free/low-fat milk or fat-free/low-fat yogurt.
- Protein: Fill the remaining quarter of the plate with lean meat, poultry or fish. If you want to add plant-based protein, you can opt for beans or tofu.
- Carb-Counting. Ask the resident dietician to teach you how to measure carbs and food portions. Ask them to help you read food labels, serving size and carb content.
- Glycemic Index. Another method of planning meals is through ranking carbs based on how they affect your blood sugar level.
It is best to consult your doctor and a dietician to select which diet for diabetics is appropriate. They are able to help you create a meal plan that is simple and easy to follow.
1200 Calories Sample Meal Plan
This meal plan serves as a guide as you start your new diet. A few days in and you’ll start experimenting with a variety of meal combinations. These recipes won’t require much effort, so you can still make them by yourself or with a help of an assistant. Modify these recipes so it fits your preferences, allergies, and whatnot.