Menu planning for diabetics

There is no single diet for diabetics—so how can you craft a balanced menu?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that 21 million Americans have diabetes (high fasting blood sugar of at least 126), and 41 million more have a condition that may lead to diabetes. Obesity increases risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts diabetes will rise 165% by 2050. Type 2 diabetes (90% of cases) is increasing rapidly, especially in children and teenagers.

High blood sugar can lead to many complications, including heart disease (leading cause of death), stroke, kidney and eye disease (e.g., blindness), nerve damage, limb amputations, cognitive decline, sexual impotence, incontinence, infections, gum disease and birth defects (in babies born to women with diabetes). A heart-healthy diet, exercise, weight control (weight loss if overweight), lifestyle changes (e.g., no smoking) and medications (e.g., insulin therapy) can help control or reduce risk of diabetes.

Diabetes affects the way the body uses energy from sugar and other foods. Sugar does not cause diabetes, but it can lead to weight gain, which increases risk. In Type 1 diabetes, no insulin (hormone) is produced. In Type 2 diabetes, insulin is insufficient or does not work correctly. Insulin allows blood sugar (glucose) to enter cells where it’s stored or burned for energy.

Diabetic diet: There is no single diabetic diet. Individual meal plans are based on weight, age, activity and medical factors (e.g., low-fat/low-cholesterol diet for high lipids, low-sodium diet for hypertension). A balanced diet consisting of a variety of foods with moderate amounts of sugar, salt and fat is advised.

A “Food Pyramid for Diabetes” with seven food groups has been created for daily meal planning. The groups are:

  • Milk and yogurt (2-3 servings).
  • Protein (2-3 servings) including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, peanut butter, cheese or tofu.
  • Fruits (2-4 servings).
  • Vegetables (3-5 servings).
  • Starches (6-11 servings) including whole grains, breads, cereals, legumes like beans, and starchy vegetables including potatoes.
  • Fats and oils (small amounts) including nuts and margarine.
  • Sugary foods (small amounts).

Since equal amounts of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in a meal raise blood glucose equally after eating, sugar and sweets can be substituted for starches, but in moderation.

Glycemix index: ADA recently advised that it may be beneficial also to consider the type of carbohydrate and its glycemic index (how much blood glucose rises after a specific food is eaten). Eating high-fiber foods with a low glycemic index like beans and whole grains may help control blood sugar. Foods rich in “soluble” fiber like oats, beans, barley, apples and citrus fruits slow glucose absorption.

Meal plans can be based on ADA “food exchanges”—foods grouped according to similar content of carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories. Any food in a list can be substituted for another in the same list.

Non-nutritive (no-calorie) sweeteners approved for safety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-K and neotame. Sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol, isomalt) used in sugar-free gum, candy and processed foods are also safe. They’re low in calories (2 calories per gram), since they’re partly absorbed. “Sugar-free” foods like cake, cookies and ice cream may still be high in fat and calories, and thus may not be prudent for weight control.

Menu tips: Serve small portions with standard measuring tools. Also:

  1. Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Limit fats and sugars in food preparation. Substitute unsaturated fats (e.g., soft tub margarine, canola, peanut, safflower or olive oil) for saturated fats (e.g., butter, solid shortening).
  2. Serve lean cuts of meat (e.g., sirloin). Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry.
  3. Grill, broil, bake, stew, microwave, stir-fry or steam foods instead of frying.
  4. Offer sugar-free jam, jelly and syrup. Serve low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise, salad dressing, sour cream, sauces and other condiments “on the side.”
  5. Offer low-fat or nonfat dairy products and low-fat, sugar-free frozen dairy desserts.
  6. Serve fish (containing heart-healthy omega-3 fats) at least twice a week.
  7. Top foods like cereals, pancakes, salads and desserts with fresh fruits. Offer canned fruits packed in juice, water or light syrup.
  8. Add vegetables to soups, salads, stews, casseroles, sauces, sandwiches and pizza.
  9. Serve high-fiber whole grain breads and cereals (e.g., oatmeal, bran), low-fat bran muffins, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and legumes (e.g., beans in Mexican dishes).
  10. Serve low-calorie or no-calorie beverages including water, sugar-free soda, cocoa, iced tea or drink mixes, vegetable juices and unsweetened 100% fruit juices.

 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
salad chicken

Vegetables and grains have stepped into the spotlight, thanks to the “flipping the plate” trend, but protein is still an important part of a balanced diet. Sources including meat, cheese, nuts, and meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can and should still be on the plate—albeit as a side dish or topping rather than the main event.

“Whatever we do [as FSDs] needs to be rooted in the culture, and today’s culture is all about healthy eating and plant-focused meals,” says Chris Studtmann, executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “A recipe is an idea; culture is...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

Ideas and Innovation
hibachi grill cooking

We saw in 2016 that many operators were trying to have some type of display cooking in their food operation. We installed a hibachi grill this fall, and within three months we had 300 residents and guests make reservations. We also use our hibachi grill for cooking classes twice a month, where our hibachi chef Abby Kramer does an excellent job teaching different cuisines. We have received so many compliments that we have decided to get another hibachi grill for a different dining venue in 2017.

FSD Resources