Your body is a reflection of what you eat. If you eat right, then you will not be susceptible to diseases. If you eat unhealthily, then you will be a target of many health conditions including hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. What you eat can greatly affect your blood sugar.
Hence, people with diabetes should be extremely careful with what they eat. But don’t you know that eating healthy foods does not have to be difficult? You just need to come up with a diabetic meal plan chart, which consists of the foods you can and cannot eat and strictly stick with it. (1, 2, 3)
Image 1: A food pyramid containing foods that should be eaten by a person with diabetes mellitus.
Picture Source: www.diabetes-warrior.net
What is the best diet for a diabetic to go on?
A person living with diabetes should know how to make healthy food choices. A diabetic person’s eating pattern plays a major role in managing diabetes. With eating pattern comes meal planning. You need to take into consideration the foods you can and cannot eat, how much you can eat, and the timing of your meal. When it comes to diabetic meal planning, you have the following diet category and eating style patterns to take into considerations:
It focuses on plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. It also includes beans, nuts, cereals, whole grains, and edible seeds. It also includes a little amount of red meat, poultry, fish, cheese, and yogurt. The Mediterranean style of eating can help improve the blood sugar level and protect you from dreadful diseases such as cardiac-related problems, stroke, and some types of cancer. (2, 3)
It is a plant-based diet which consists of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and edible seeds. There should be no animal products. A vegan diet is helpful in the management of blood sugar level. It also reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer. (4, 5)
Low carbohydrate and low fat
This type of eating style primarily focuses on eating non-starchy vegetables, beans, good proteins like fish, nuts, edible seeds, and poultry products. It also includes healthy fat such as avocado and olive. When it comes to eating meat, a diabetic person has to make sure that he is restricting fat content, especially the unhealthy fat.
Meat products that should be included in your diet include lean protein like chicken and turkey (remove the skin), fish, and low-fat dairy products. Following this eating style can significantly help improve the blood sugar level. It also lowers the risk of heart-related diseases. (4, 5, 6)
What can I eat with diabetes?
There is this thing called “diabetes plate method.” It is specially designed for diabetic patients, which aims to manage their eating pattern and style. The diabetic person should use a 9-inch plate and strictly follow these steps:
- Fill half of your place with non-starchy veggies.
- The one-fourth of your plate should be comprised of protein.
- The other one-fourth should be carbohydrates. (4, 5, 6)
Picture 2: Recommended foods for people with diabetes mellitus.
Image Source: www.healthspectra.com
What foods can diabetics eat freely?
When it comes to what to eat and what not if you are diabetic, the choices are endless. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of myths and one of them is totally avoiding sugary foods and beverages. A diabetic person can actually eat a variety of foods but in moderation. The following list of foods can be included in your diet:
- You can eat desserts provided it should be in a small proportion. You have to limit hidden sugars as it could cause your blood sugar to spike.
- Starchy carbs should be kept to a minimum. It would be great if it would be replaced by whole grain carbs because they are high in fiber and may take some time to digest. Whole grain carbs keep the blood sugar level even.
- Eat all natural, unprocessed foods.
- Include healthy fats such as fish, nuts, avocados, flax seeds, and fish oil.
- Eat colorful fruits and vegetables. Go for the entire fruit and vegetables and not only juices.
- Eat bread made from whole grains.
- It is okay to eat high-fiber cereals.
- You can eat chicken and turkey but make sure you limit the intake of the skin part.
- Fish and shellfish are okay.
- Include high-quality protein such as eggs, low-fat dairy products, and beans. (6, 7, 8, 9)
What not to eat when you have diabetes?
The following foods should be kept to a minimum if not completely avoided.
- Fried foods including foods high in bad cholesterol (trans fat and saturated fat)
- High sodium foods (high salt content)
- Fries are okay provided they are baked and not fried
- Baked goods
- Ice cream
- Regular soda
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
- Limit the intake of alcoholic beverages as it can dramatically lower your blood sugar level.
- If you want to drink alcoholic beverages you have to make sure you eat some food to somehow control your blood sugar. (8, 9, 10)
Photo 3: Some of the foods that should be limited or avoided by diabetic people.
Picture Source: i.pinimg.com
What to keep in mind?
A person with diabetes should pay attention to the timing of his/her meal. It is best to eat the same time each day. However, if you are taking a mealtime insulin, then you can somehow have a flexible eating schedule. If you are taking other types of diabetes medication, you should not attempt to skip or even delay your meal as it could lead to a sudden blood sugar drop.
Always keep in mind that when it comes to managing diabetes, there is not a one size fits all things. It depends on the type of diabetes, other relevant medical conditions, lifestyle, budget, and overall condition of the patient. It is best to work with a certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian to make sure that what you are doing is right. (1, 5, 8)