Diabetes: What food can I have & what should I avoid?

Today, we will be looking at the healthy foods and items that you should include in your diet to manage your diabetes, as well as all the foods you need to cut out/avoid to better help your situation. 

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you can manage your condition by implementing a healthy and balanced diet. This means managing your carbohydrate intake, limiting your meal size and opting for nutrient-rich healthy alternatives instead. 

If you can sufficiently change your diet to something healthier and more manageable, you can manage type 2 diabetes and even prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. 

Today, we will be looking at the healthy foods and items that you should include in your diet to manage your diabetes, as well as all the foods you need to cut out/avoid to better help your situation. 

Good foods for diabetes

Vegetables

Vegetables are fantastic sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre for anyone with diabetes. They should be a part of your main meals as they contain complex carbohydrates that satiate hunger, deter overeating and help you manage blood sugar. Beans, lentils and other legumes are also great sources of protein and fibre. These items, in particular, help your digestive tract absorb fewer carbohydrates and can be used as meat and cheese alternatives. Include the following veg in your next grocery shop:

  • Broccoli, Carrots, Greens, Peppers, Potatoes, Corn, Tomatoes, Green Peas, Black Beans, Lentils, White Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans

Fruit

There is a common misconception that because fruit contains sugar, that it should be partially avoided by those with diabetes. The opposite is true. Fruit can have a high sugar content, but the sugar doesn’t count toward free sugars. Fruit has a low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load: 

  • Apples, Avocado, Blackberries, Cherries, Grapefruit, Pears, Peaches, Strawberries, Plumbs. 

Whole grains

Whole grains are a perfect way for people with diabetes to manage their blood glucose levels. They also leave you feeling fuller for longer meaning it is easier to manage your diet. However, you need to avoid bleached and refined carbohydrates. What whole grains should you have:

  • Whole Wheat, Legume Pasta, Quinoa, Wild Rice, Oatmeal, Barley, Cornmeal

Dairy

Dairy products are essential for every single diet. They are key avenues for calcium and protein intake and can even help insulin secretion levels in people with diabetes. What dairy products can you add to your diet:

  • Parmesan, Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Low Fat Milk, Skimmed Milk, Low Fat Greek Yoghurt, Plain Yoghurt

Meat

Meats are, once again, a great source of proteins. They are high in fibre and high in fats, making it slower to digest and only causing small increases in blood sugar. What meats are good sources of protein for people with diabetes: 

  • Boneless Chicken Breast, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, Oily Fish, White Fish, Turkey Breast, Eggs

Dessert foods

Just because you’ve got diabetes and you have to manage your sugar levels, this doesn’t mean that you have to avoid all desserts. You should be able to indulge in a dessert every now and again. All you need to do is manage your portion size and how often you have dessert. Here are some low-calorie desserts for you to try:

  • No Sugar Popsicles, Fruit Popsicles, Sugar-Free Gelatine Dessert, Pudding, Low-Calorie Ice Cream, Fruit Salad

Remember to check the caloric information for every sugary meal/item you have. Better safe than sorry! 

Snacks

Whilst we have been barking on about managing your diet and minimising your hunger, you can still find time for some snacking. Keep in mind, if your body is telling you that you have low energy, don’t forgo snacking because you need that vital energy. What’s the go-to snacks for those with diabetes: 

  • Popcorn, Nuts, Carrots, Celery Sticks, Hummus, Fresh Fruit

Drinks

Getting energy is two-fold. We’ve gone through what you should eat, but what should you drink? Of course, you can’t beat water but what other options can help contain a person’s blood sugar levels thus aiding them in managing their diabetes/prediabetes. Let’s take a look at some options:

  • Unsweetened Ice Tea, Unsweetened Hot Tea, Unsweetened Coffee, Low Fat Milk, Skimmed Milk, Plant-Based Milk, Sparkling Water

Bad Foods for diabetes

The main foods to avoid are the ones that cause considerable blood sugar fluctuations and other internal imbalances that can have a detrimental effect on the body. This means you need to avoid any foods that have high levels of simple carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats and sugar in the form of candy and cakes. If you’re looking for specific foods that you need to stay away from, then take a gander at the list below:

  • Fast Food, Baked Goods, Sweets, Chips, Desserts, White Bread, White Pasta, White Rice, Processed Meat, Red Meat, Sugary Cereals, Sugary Drinks

Living with diabetes

Modern medicine and research has gotten to a stage in which it is relatively easy to manage diabetes. All it takes is focus and commitment from the individual themselves. 

People living with prediabetes or diabetes can try swapping out some foods for the healthier and suitable alternatives we’ve listed above.  

For more diet and nutrition news, advice and findings, keep an eye on Healthier Matter’s regular blog. 

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