Every diabetic encounters situations in which it is impossible to count exchanges or measure carb and fat grams. When this happens, there is an easy way to stay on track with your diabetes diet goals. It's a system that is very popular in Australia and New Zealand although it is pretty much unknown in the United States, UK, Canada, and the rest of the English-speaking world. The method is called Rate Your Plate.
With Rate Your Plate, there are no hard and fast choices among foods, other than avoiding the foods you know your body cannot handle. There are no absolutely forbidden foods, and you do not have to go out and buy any special foods. There are no hard and fast diabetic dieting tips you have to follow all the time.
This system is especially helpful when you are eating out, especially at a cafeteria or buffet line. All you need to do is to rate your plate. Here is how you do it.
Eat One Plate of Food Per Meal
Eat one plate of food per meal. Every last bit of food you eat at any one meal should fit on a single, round, 13 inch (325 mm) plate. Cover half of your plate with vegetables. Cover one-quarter of your plate with a protein food. Any starchy food, fruit, bread, grains, and dessert must fit in the final quarter of your plate.
There are no penalties for piling food on your plate, although there actually will be a time, after you have kept your blood sugar levels in control for weeks or months, that you probably will not want to pile food on your plate. The absolute limit is set by the plate, and you absolutely, positively must not eat more than you can fit on your plate. Moreover, any “problem” foods must fit in their section, all together. You never get an extra plate, or bowl, for dessert!
If food is runny, put it in a tiny bowl, but balance that little bowl on your plate, too. If you don't know what the food is, don't eat it. Mystery meats and mass-manufactured sweets and starches don't deserve a place on your plate. But should you decide to ignore your diet guidelines and our suggestions, at least limit how much you eat to a single plate of food at a single meal, no more often than every five hours, no more often than three times a day.
That's your dieting schedule. Three meals a day, no more. Nutrient timing is not as critical as simply eating three meals a day, instead of four or five or more. This approach is more suitable for a type 2 diabetes diet than a type 1 diabetes diet, but even type 1's with portion control issues will benefit.
It's Really That Simple
Could limiting yourself to just three plates of food a day really be the answer to controlling your blood sugar levels and losing weight?
Yes! If you have type 2 diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas are literally dying for you to give them less work to do. If you are eating 4000 calories a day eating plate after plate of food, just limiting yourself to 3000 calories a day from three plates of food will get your blood sugar levels going back down.
When you notice how much better you feel just by eating your fill, without stuffing yourself, then it will be easier to make more changes in your diet that will eventually help you reach your impressive weight and blood sugar goals. Rate Your Plate is a great place for many diabetics to start, and it's a safe haven when staying on a restrictive plan is impossible, especially during holidays and on special occasions.
Your belly fat is also waiting for you to give it less work to do. If you can just change your diet in ways that keep your blood sugar levels in control, then your fat itself will generate the hormones that regulate your appetite.
Shrink Your Waistline By Shrinking Portion Sizes for Certain Fatty Foods
When you are using the Rate Your Plate system, it is especially important to limit your servings of certain source of dietary fat. The foods to avoid happen to be high in trans- fat, but the problem fat is not the trans- fat but rather arachidonic acid. This is the fatty acid that is abundant in eggs and products made from eggs, especially mayonnaise. It is also found in beef,especially beef jerky, salami, cold cuts, and most sausages. The average breakfast buffet offers a feast of arachidonic acid-laden foods.
Arachidonic acid is the building block for a number of hormones associated with inflammation. It is important to understand that a little inflammation is a good thing. Pro-inflammatory hormones activate the immune system to fight infection and they seal off cuts, scrapes, and scratches.
The problem is that eating too many foods containing too much arachidonic acid creates so many pro-inflammatory hormones that you get swelling around your midsection. When you are rating your plate for eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, ham, and breakfast treats, be sure your fatty foods do not creep onto the parts of your plate for healthier starches, fruit, and vegetables.
Lower-Fat Protein Foods Are Better than Higher-Fat Protein Foods
On the other hand, we think it is OK to fill up on beans, peas, lentils, natural sources of soy, like tofu, and even lean meats and fish, as long as you don't get a second plateful! Cold-water fish such as mackerel and tuna is especially helpful for diabetics, because it is a good source of the n-3 essential fatty acids that help balance the arachidonic acid and other n-6 essential fatty acids so abundant in high-fat protein foods.
Keeping the amount of fatty protein foods on your plate to an absolute maximum of one-quarter of your plate and preferably less keeps the fat in your diet down, and helps your liver take LDL (“bad”) cholesterol out of your bloodstream. When you reduce the amount of fat you get from dried beef, hot dogs, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, and the like, your body makes less of an inflammatory hormone called interleukin-6, also known as IL-6. The less IL-6 in circulation, the more readily the liver can take LDL out of the bloodstream and process it into heart-healthy fats.
Help Your Immune System Shrink Your Belly Fat
If you have been eating unlimited amounts of food, limiting yourself to just one plate of food three times a day will do more than just lowering your blood sugar levels. It will also help your immune system shrink your fat cells. Sure, you say, anything you don't feed as much is going to shrink. And you are absolutely right. In your belly fat, however, there is an additional process going on.
Old cells die, including old fat cells. They have to be removed. The immune system sends out clean-up cells known as macrophages, literally “big eaters,” to engulf and consume dead tissue in the same way they also engulf and consume bacteria, virus-infected cells, and parasites. The macrophages burn fat for fuel.
That's why belly fat is a particularly attractive place for macrophages. It is a great place for these white blood cells to take their rest stop and refuel before continuing their travels through the bloodstream. The problem is that when your fat cells are filled with storage fat, the capillaries between them are squeezed, and macrophages can literally get stuck in your belly fat.
In some people, up to one-third of the entire mass of “belly fat” is actually white blood cells stuck where they do not belong. Since inflammatory chemicals attract even more macrophages, and the macrophages themselves always die of old age and need to be removed, your immune system is an important factor in your weight.
And since these fat cells trapped in a mass of inflammation are only slowly supplied by the bloodstream, they are not as available to take sugar out of the bloodstream. The inflammation around your waist, not just the fat mass, keeps your blood sugar levels high.
Simply Eating Less Can Revitalize Your Life
If you can just manage to fill your plate with foods that do not encourage inflammation, eventually your belly fat will stop being as inflamed. It usually takes about four to six weeks to notice that you feel trimmer after you have totally given up the foods that are rich in arachidonic acid, banishing them from your plate altogether.
When you do this, you will lose the water weight that has been trapped in the connective tissues in your belly fat, and you may also notice that your body has fewer problems with carbohydrates. When your belly fat is not inflamed, then your bloodstream can deliver sugar to the fat cells that absorb it for making triglycerides. It will be easier to keep your blood sugar levels right. You will feel more energetic, and you will also notice more benefits from exercise.