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Diabetes Diet - Design Your Own Diet Plan

How To Design Your Own Diet Plan


By Nina Nazor

Your diet plan is about having a budget of calories, carbs, protein and fats that you must administrate throughout the day. First you need to calculate your caloric level. Then, design your menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the healthy meals that you like most, using the exchange portions of foods. Next, complement your healthy meals with at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and you will have a customized meal and fitness plan chosen by you.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 2 hours

Here's How:

  1. To calculate your energy requirements for a day, we use the Harris Benedict formula. The Hikingupward website has a very simple and useful calculator. Enter your data to get the total level of calories you should be consuming in a day.

  2. If you want to lose weight, reduce 500 calories from the daily caloric requirement you need to remain at your current weight. If you want to maintain your current weight, you need to consume the same amount shown in the result. If you want to gain weight, add 500 calories to the daily caloric requirement you need to remain at your current weight.

  3. You must next calculate a 40% of those total calories as low glycemic index carbs (some people use less), 30-40% of healthy fats, and 20-30% of lean protein. Visit our Food Exchanges Photo Gallery to get familiar with the Exchange System, which allows you to trade foods within a group of the same nutritional value, without having to do any calculations. It also helps you to keep track of the carbs you eat.

  4. Get familiar with The Exchange Lists. If you have a printer, print them and study them to learn all the equivalents of each group.

  5. Now you can design your menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Choose the meals you like most by using the exchange portions of foods. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a wonderful Menu Planner. Please take some time to review it and play with the amounts of food you want to eat in a meal.

  6. Next, watch the amount of carbs you must eat each day and distribute your budget of the day in 3 meals and 1 or 2 snacks: 

    - 12 carb choices or 180 grams for a weight loss plan of 1200-1500 calories
    - 13 carb choices or 195 grams for most women (1400-1700 calories)
    - 16 carb choices or 240 grams for most men (1800-2300 calories)

  7. Get familiar with the Carbohydrate Counting Method. Now that you know about the exchange system, you will find it very easy to calculate the carbs in a portion of food.

  8. Next, design your weekly menu using the Menu Planner and write it down or use a table in word or excel.

  9. You should increase your physical activity. Always ask your doctor to perform a physical evaluation before you start any exercise program. I recommend you to try the 10K Steps a Day Program and check out the Physical Activity Guide from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

  10. Finally, print out the Daily Food and Activity Diary from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Writing down what you eat, the exercise you do, and your behavioral goals at the bottom of the diary every day, as well as your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes, is one of the most successful behavioral techniques for weight loss and/or diabetes control.

It seems to be complicated, but please give it a try and you will see great results in some weeks. If you wish to share your thoughts and concerns with our community, please visit our Message Board. Good Luck!

What You Need:

  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Measuring cups
  • Scale

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