Are you or someone you love diabetic? Are you looking for information about managing diabetes through nutrition? While everyone should pay attention to what they eat to achieve ideal health, this is especially true for diabetics.
Diabetes is a type of disease caused by high blood sugar (or blood glucose). Diabetics typically don’t make enough insulin to help the sugars in food make it to their cells, where it is used for energy. Since the sugar does not make it to a diabetic’s cells, it stays in their blood, causing them to have a higher blood glucose level.
Diabetes can lead to numerous other potential health risks. Some of the health risks associated with diabetes include strokes, kidney disease, heart disease, foot issues and never damage. This is why it is very important for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar and take steps to control their health.
Insulin is prescribed to diabetics to help them manage their disease. However, diabetics will experience better health when they also take steps to manage their diet and nutrition.
While it may seem like there are a lot of foods that diabetics need to avoid, there are plenty of foods that are safe to eat too. With some planning, substitutions, and flexibility, maintaining a healthy diet as a diabetic is definitely doable.
Whether you are a diabetic researching the best diet for you, or you are a family member of a diabetic, below you will find a lot of great information about how to maintain a healthy diet and nutrition as a diabetic. Sticking with your diet alongside your prescribed insulin, will keep you healthier and manage your diabetes.
What Is the Best Diet If You Are Diabetic?
Most doctors and nutritionists recommend a low-carb diet for diabetics. Since carbohydrates have more sugar, a diabetics body has a harder time processing these foods. With a low-carb diet, diabetics are better able to manage their blood sugar levels and prevent them from getting too high.
Low-carb diets have also been shown to produce long-term benefits in diabetics. Being consistent with a low-carb diet over a longer period of time can keep blood sugar at a healthier level. Before insulin was developed, low-carb diets were part of the treatment provided to diabetics.
Which Fruits are Good Choices for Diabetics?
If you or a loved one are diabetic, you might have heard that you should avoid fruits because they are sugary. While it is true that some fruits have higher level of sugar than other foods, there are plenty of fruits that are perfectly safe for diabetics to consume.
Berries, such as blueberries or strawberries, can be eaten in moderation by diabetics. Berries are even considered a superfood for diabetics due to their high levels of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.
Cherries are another great option for diabetics who are looking for fruits to add to their diet. Cherries are low in carbohydrates, and they can also help to reduce inflammation. However, you will want to be sure not to eat too many cherries, as it could lead to a spike in your blood sugar.
Peaches, apricots, and apples are also fruits that are good for diabetics. Both peaches and apricots are rich in vitamin A and fiber. Apples contain a lot of vitamin C and antioxidants (be sure to eat the skin too).
Diabetics can also add oranges, pears, and kiwis to their diets. Oranges and kiwis provide your body with vitamin C and potassium. Pears provide your body with plenty of fiber and vitamin K.
Avocados are another fruit that are good for diabetics. They have numerous health benefits. Some of the reasons you should add avocados to your diet include that they contain numerous vitamins and minerals, they have monosaturated fatty acids, that are good for your heart, and they are packed with fiber and potassium.
Which Fruits Should be on the Naughty List for Diabetics?
Unfortunately, there are some fruits that are not good choices for diabetics. These ‘naughty’ fruits contain too many carbohydrates, so they can lead to high blood sugar levels. Some fruits can cause a spike in your blood sugar, so it is best to try to avoid eating them.
Grapes should be avoided or eaten in very small portion. Since one grape contains one gram of carbohydrates, it is easy to consume too many carbohydrates too quickly when you eat grapes.
As delicious as fresh and juicy pineapple is, it is best for diabetics to avoid this fruit. It is high on the glycemic index, meaning it contains a large amount of carbohydrates.
A whole mango has about 30 grams of carbohydrates. So, if you plan to eat any mango, you will need to be very careful to limit your intake. Try to eat no more than half a cup of mango if you’re diabetic.
Bananas also contain a large amount of carbohydrates. If you plan to eat banana, try not to eat more than half of one to limit the number of carbohydrates you consume.
If you are a diabetic, it is a good rule to avoid dried fruit. Dried fruit has much higher level of carbohydrates than most fresh fruits.
Are Eggs a Good Food for Diabetics?
Eggs are considered a great food choice for diabetics by the American Diabetics Association, so feel free to eat eggs if you’re diabetic. Eggs are very low in carbohydrates (only about half a gram in one egg), so they do not cause your blood sugar to increase.
There are many benefits associated with eating eggs. Eggs are high in protein and potassium. They are also low in calories and fat. Since there are many ways to prepare eggs, you can cook them different ways for some variation in your meals.
While eggs won’t increase your blood sugar, you’ll still want to monitor how many you consume. Eggs are high in cholesterol, so you won’t want to eat too many to cause other issues.
Foods That Are Great for Diabetics—Pile ‘Em on Your Plate!
Generally speaking, foods that are lower in carbs are the best choices for a diabetic. You can find healthy choices in all the food groups. As generally recommended for good overall health, you want to be sure to limit the amount you eat of any given food and watch your portion sizes.
There are numerous vegetables that are good for diabetics. Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, and beets are a healthy choice to pile on your plate.
A serving of vegetables is typically half a cup if they’re cooked or one cup if they’re raw. You should aim to have at least three servings of vegetables each day, but more is always better. If you are purchasing canned vegetables, look for options that do not have added salt.
While you want to limit your carbohydrate intake, you can still consume some grains if you are diabetic. You will want to be selective about your choices though.
Look for whole grains instead of more processed options. Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are good for your body. Some great whole grain options you can incorporate into your diet include brown rice, bulgur, whole grain barley, quinoa, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal.
There are many dairy products that diabetics can enjoy. Since manufactures sometimes include other ingredients in products, be sure to check the nutrition label before picking up new items at the grocery store. Skim milk, some reduced-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt are good dairy options for diabetics to consider.
Meat and other proteins are important for diabetics. You will receive healthy fats, fiber, and protein when you consume plant-based proteins. Some foods you can eat include hummus, tofu, edamame, or nuts.
Fish and seafood are also a healthy source of protein. It is recommended that you try to incorporate fish into your diet at least twice a week. Some fish, such as albacore, tuna, or rainbow trout, will provide you with Omega-3 fatty acids.
When selecting poultry, avoid eating the skin so you will consume less cholesterol and fat. When you eat red meat, such as beef, pork, or lamb, look for leaner cuts with less fat. Try to limit your overall intake of red meat, since it often has more saturated fat than other protein options.
Which Foods Should be Avoided if You are a Diabetic?
Unfortunately, there are a number of foods you will want to try to avoid if you are diabetic. You want to avoid anything that could lead to a blood sugar spike. Additionally, since there are other diseases associated with diabetes, you want to avoid eating foods that could contribute to any of these other potential issues.
You will want to avoid grains as much as possible. When you eat grains, be sure to choose whole grain options. Processed grains will contain higher levels of carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugar more.
It is generally best to avoid starchier vegetables, such as potatoes and yams. Peas, lentils, and beans (except for snow peas and green beans), should also be avoided or eaten in moderation.
It is best to avoid or strictly limit alcohol consumption. Most forms of alcohol are high in carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugar. Additionally, alcohol is empty calories, so it can contribute to weight gain.
And, finally, you will want to avoid most dessert options. Desserts are typically very high in sugar and carbohydrates and can cause your blood sugar to spike. If you are craving something a little sweet after dinner, try to substitute one of the approved fruits from above.
How Much Food Should I Consume Each Day?
The amount of food you should eat each day will vary depending on different factors, such as your age, the types of foods you eat, and whether you are trying to lose weight. You should check-in with your doctor to determine the best daily caloric intake to meet your needs and best manage your diabetes.
If your goal is to lose weight, you should try to consume fewer calories. Additionally, you will want to replace higher fat and more sugary foods with those that are lower in calories, fat, and sugars.
There are two meal plan methods that are typically used to help diabetics lose weight. They are the plate method and carbohydrate counting. You can talk with your doctor about whether one of these would be a good plan for you to follow.
The goal of the plate method is to help you learn about portion control. With the plate method, you are not actively counting the calories or carbohydrates that you consume. The plate method helps you understand how much food from each food group you should be eating.
When you use the plate method, half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables. One quarter of the plate should be a lean protein and the last quarter should be a grain or a starch.
To manage your diabetes, it is also important to have an understanding about what an appropriate portion of a food looks like. In today’s super-sized world, it is very easy to over eat and take in too many calories or carbohydrates.
The size of the palm of your hand is typically a good measurement when looking for how much meat or poultry to consume. Half a cup of rice is about the same size as a tennis ball and a serving of a pancake or a waffle is about the same size as a DVD. When you have a better grasp of a healthy portion, it is easier to stay within your goals.
Carbohydrate counting is the other popular meal plan option to help diabetics lose weight. The goal of carbohydrate counting is to help you manage your blood glucose level by tracking the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Since carbohydrate turn into sugar in your blood, it is important to monitor them so your blood sugar level doesn’t become too high.
The specific amount of carbohydrates you can eat each day will vary for every diabetic. Your weight, the severity of your diabetes, how much exercise you get each day, and other factors will also contribute to your personal goal. Your doctor can help you determine a healthy carbohydrate intake amount.
If you are planning to use the carbohydrate counting method to lose weight, you’ll need to learn how to determine how many carbohydrates are in a given food. If you’re eating something prepackaged, the nutrition label should list the number of carbohydrates. Just be careful to pay attention to the serving size so you don’t eat more carbohydrates than you think you are.
For other foods that are not prepackaged, you can easily find the number of carbohydrates on the internet. For example, an apple has 25 grams of carbohydrates and a potato has 37 grams.
Does it Matter When I Eat During the Day?
The answer to this question will vary for different patients. For some diabetics, you will need to be more careful to make sure you eat frequent smaller meals throughout the day to avoid your blood sugar level dropping too low. Some diabetics take insulin with their meals and may be able to eat on a more flexible schedule.
You will want to talk with your doctor to determine if it is going to be important for you to eat at certain times during the day.
Can I Drink Juice if I’m Diabetic?
If you are diabetic, you should try to avoid drinking juices. Juices typically have high levels of sugar. In just a small glass of juice, you could consume enough carbohydrates to cause your blood sugar to spike.
Juices can also contribute to weight-gain, since they add extra calories to your meal without really filling you up.
How Much Water Should I Drink Each Day?
Water is essential for everyone, but it is very important for diabetics to make sure they stay well-hydrated. Diabetes can make it more likely for you to become dehydrated, so you need to be sure to drink enough water every day.
If your blood glucose levels are high, water can assist your kidneys in removing some of the extra sugar from your body. When you have high blood glucose levels, it can pull some of the fluids from your body. This will typically make you feel thirsty, so listen to your body and drink some water.
Water is the best drink for diabetics because it does not contain sugar, calories, or carbohydrates. It will help you stay hydrated without contributing to high blood sugar levels, like other drinks can. Choose water over other beverage options when ever possible to help manage your diabetes.
How Can Diabetics Lose Weight Safely and Easily?
You will want to consult with your doctor to find the diet that is right for your body. As a general rule, if you are looking to lose weight, you will need to make some lifestyle changes.
You will want to increase the amount you exercise. It will be important to cut or significantly limit foods that are high in fat and sugars. You will want to eat plenty of vegetables and other low-carb foods.
Portion control is going to be very important if you are looking to lose weight, so pay attention to the quantity of each food you are eating. Be sure to drink enough water too, it can add in weight loss.
If You Get a High Blood Sugar Reading, What Can You do to Lower it Quickly?
When you are diabetic, it is important to monitor your blood sugar level regularly. There are also signs you can look for that may indicate that your blood sugar is too high. If you are very thirsty, irritable, tired, urinating frequently, or have a dry mouth, it might mean that your blood sugar is too high and should be tested.
If you test your blood sugar and find that it is too high, there are a few things you can do to lower it quickly. Drinking a lot of water relatively quickly can help to lower your blood sugar. Exercising for 15 minutes to increase your heart rate can also help to lower your blood sugar level.
If you want to lower your blood sugar, you can also try eating a high-protein snack. It is important that you re-check your blood sugar level after you try to lower it to make sure it went back down. If you are getting high blood sugar readings often, you will want to check with your doctor about adjusting your insulin dosage.
It can be overwhelming when you are diagnosed with diabetes. You are understandably worried about managing your disease (or helping a loved one manage theirs).
Hopefully this article has provided you with some information about maintaining a healthy diet as a diabetic. While there are definitely foods you’ll want to avoid in order to prevent a blood sugar spike, hopefully you also realize that there are plenty of options still available for you to enjoy.
Now that you have an understanding of some healthy foods and tips for diabetics, make your grocery list and plan some delicious meals for yourself. Set up an exercise routine and remember to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Diabetes isn’t a disease anyone wants, but it definitely should not prevent you from enjoying life!
The Diet Fitness King Team is a team of 6 people lead by the founder Greg Davis. We have all different levels of experiences and credentials in the health field and our goal is to provide people the highest quality information available. Everything we put out is well researched and we have a lot of passion and pride behind this! Please let us know if you find any incorrect information on our website or feel free to contact us with feedback in general.