This Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes is designed to provide a balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals while following the basic principles of a diabetic meal plan. Every person who has diabetes has his or her own individual energy and nutrient needs, so please consult your health care professional to make sure our suggestions will work for you. The menu is designed for young adults through seniors. It is not designed for children or people who need close medical management of diabetes.
The menus have been written based on the American Diabetes Association’s Exchange Lists for Meal Planning. Since carbohydrates are the nutrients that diabetics need to monitor the closest, the exchange lists are designed to help maintain the proper amount of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three major nutrients found in the foods we eat, but carbohydrates have the greatest effect on our blood sugar. Since controlling blood sugar is the number one goal of diabetes management, controlling your intake of carbohydrates can help you achieve that goal. This doesn’t mean that carbohydrates should be eliminated; rather, it becomes important for you to plan your meals and snacks so they provide a consistent amount of carbohydrates. And that brings us back to the Exchange Lists.
The Exchange Lists include foods from the following food groups: Starches, Fruit, Milk, Vegetables, Proteins, Fats, and Free Foods. Carbohydrates are primarily found in Starches, Fruit, and Milk. One serving (or exchange) of a Starch, Fruit, or Milk will provide 15 grams of carbohydrate (the amount of protein and fat in each carbohydrate exchange will vary, depending on the food). Monitoring serving sizes in this way is also referred to as “carbohydrate counting.”
For example, your breakfast meal may allow three servings of carbohydrate, or 45 grams of carbohydrate. The three servings can be distributed among different foods-maybe two Starches and one Fruit. A snack may allow two servings of carbohydrate, or 30 grams. In this case, one Milk and one Starch would work well. Just remember that Starches, Fruits, and Milk provide carbohydrates, and one serving of carbohydrate provides 15 grams.
Vegetables, proteins, and fats usually provide few carbohydrates but are good sources of other important nutrients, namely vitamins and minerals. In general, vegetables contain only a few grams of carbohydrate (5 grams per serving) and can be used more liberally in the diabetic diet. In some cases they are not included in carbohydrate counting. We have not counted them in these menus. However, your health professional may recommend that you include the carbohydrate count of these vegetables in your meal planning. Also, if you eat very large quantities of these vegetables (several cups), they should be counted as a carbohydrate serving. Starchy vegetables-corn, peas, lima beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash must be counted as a carbohydrate serving. They are considered starches and contain 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Proteins and fats are an important part of any diet, and actually work well with carbohydrates to help stabilize blood sugar. One protein exchange equals one ounce of “meat.” One fat exchange equals five grams of fat.
Trying to digest all of this information can be difficult! Feel free to obtain your own copy of the Exchange Lists by calling the American Diabetes Association at (800) 232-3472, or visit them online at www.diabetes.org. The American Dietetic Association also provides helpful information on meal planning for diabetes 🙂