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Diabetes Meal Exchange 
Plan Information

Reprinted with permission from the NIH.  For a printable version please visit their website.

 

 

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How Food Affects Your Blood Glucose

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, what, when, and how much you eat all affect your blood glucose. Blood glucose is the main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy.

If you have diabetes (or impaired glucose tolerance), your blood glucose can go too high if you eat too much. If your blood glucose goes too high, you can get sick.

Your blood glucose can also go too high or drop too low if you don't take the right amount of diabetes medicine.

If your blood glucose stays high too much of the time, you can get heart, eye, foot, kidney, and other problems. You can also have problems if your blood glucose gets too low (hypoglycemia).

Keeping your blood glucose at a healthy level will prevent or slow down diabetes problems. Ask your doctor or diabetes teacher what a healthy blood glucose level is for you.  

Blood Glucose Levels

What should my blood glucose levels be?

For most people, target blood glucose levels are

Before meals 90 to 130
1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal less than 180

Talk with your health care provider about your blood glucose target levels. Print out this chart and write them in.

Before meals ______ to ______
1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal less than ______

Ask your doctor how often you should check your blood glucose. The results from your blood glucose checks will tell you if your diabetes care plan is working. Also ask your doctor for an A1C test at least twice a year. Your A1C number gives your average blood glucose for the past 3 months.

How can I keep my blood glucose at a healthy level?

  • Eat about the same amount of food each day.

  • Eat your meals and snacks at about the same times each day.

  • Do not skip meals or snacks.

  • Take your medicines at the same times each day.

  • Exercise at about the same times each day.

Drawings of typical foods at breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning snack, afternoon snack, and evening snack, arranged in a circle around a clock.

Why should I eat about the same amount at the same times each day?

Your blood glucose goes up after you eat. If you eat a big lunch one day and a small lunch the next day, your blood glucose levels will change too much.

Keep your blood glucose at a healthy level by eating about the same amount of carbohydrate foods at about the same times each day. Carbohydrate foods, also called carbs, provide glucose for energy. Starches, fruits, milk, starchy vegetables such as corn, and sweets are all carbohydrate foods.

Talk with your doctor or diabetes teacher about how many meals and snacks to eat each day. Print out these clock faces and draw hands on the clocks to show when to have your meals and, if necessary, snacks.

Six blank clock faces, labeled with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks.

Your Diabetes Medicines

What you eat and when affects how your diabetes medicines work. Talk with your doctor or diabetes teacher about the best times to take your diabetes medicines based on your meal plan.

Print out this chart. Fill in the names of your medicines, when to take them, and how much to take. If you take your medicine with a meal, write down the name of the meal. Draw hands on the clocks to show when to take your medicines.

Image of blank clock for recording  when medicine is taken.

Name of medicine: __________________
Time: ________ Meal: _______________
How much: ________________________

Image of blank clock for recording  when medicine is taken. Name of medicine: __________________
Time: ________ Meal: _______________
How much: ________________________
IImage of blank clock for recording  when medicine is taken. Name of medicine: __________________
Time: ________ Meal: _______________
How much: ________________________
Image of blank clock for recording  when medicine is taken. Name of medicine: __________________
Time: ________ Meal: _______________
How much: ________________________

Your Exercise Plan

What you eat and when also depend on how much you exercise. Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and controlling your blood glucose. Physical activity should be safe and enjoyable, so talk with your doctor about what types of exercise are right for you. Whatever kind of exercise you do, here are some special things that people with diabetes need to remember:

  • Take care of your feet. Make sure your shoes fit properly and your socks stay clean and dry. Check your feet for redness or sores after exercising. Call your doctor if you have sores that do not heal.

  • Drink about 2 cups of water before you exercise, about every 20 minutes during exercise, and after you finish, even if you don't feel thirsty.

  • Warm up and cool down for 5 to 10 minutes before and after exercising. For example, walk slowly at first, then walk faster. Finish up by walking slowly again.

  • Test your blood glucose before and after exercising. Do not exercise if your fasting blood glucose level is above 300. Eat a small snack if your blood glucose is below 100.

  • Know the signs of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and how to treat it.

Hypoglycemia

You should know the signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) such as feeling weak or dizzy, sweating more, noticing sudden changes in your heartbeat, or feeling hungry. If you experience these symptoms, stop exercising and test your blood glucose. If it is 70 or less, eat one of the following right away:

  • 2 or 3 glucose tablets
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of any fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of a regular (not diet) soft drink
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk
  • 5 or 6 pieces of hard candy
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar or honey

After 15 minutes, test your blood glucose again to find out whether it has returned to a healthier level. Once blood glucose is stable, if it will be at least an hour before your next meal, it's a good idea to eat a snack.

To be safe when you exercise, carry something to treat hypoglycemia, such as glucose tablets or hard candy. Another good idea is to wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace (in case of emergency). Teach your exercise partners the signs of hypoglycemia and what to do about it.

 

    

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Page Updated 12/24/2005