Having diabetes should never ever mean that you need to starve yourself or deprive yourself of the foods that you enjoy. I am forever hearing people ask me what foods diabetics can eat, and I am forever telling them – anything and everything There really is no limit to what foods are on or off the menu when your’e diabetic.
The important thing to remember is that what you eat should all be part of maintaining an overall balanced, healthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet is about eating smarter and educating yourself on the foods that are both nutritious and delicious. Working with a diabetes dietitian is often a very good way to make the best choices when it comes to your diet.
There is no food that is off limits
There is no definitive list of foods diabetics can eat. The first point of call is to make sure that are maintaining a healthy weight, that is sustainable over the long term. You also want to make sure that your blood sugar levels are at healthy levels as well.
The good news is that the foods diabetics can eat are no different to the foods non-diabetics can eat so there is no need to go out of your way preparing special meals or buying expensive special ingredients at the supermarket. There are a few tips you will need to keep in mind however, especially when it comes to the breakdown of fats, carbs and protein that you will need to keep in mind. You will also need to undertake a consistent exercise regime as well to stay on top of your weight levels.
Healthy fats are essential for healthy living. Unsaturated fats are ideal, although you should remember that if you eat too much fat, be it good or bad fat, you may gain weight. You should try to focus on polyunsaturated fats for example the omega 3 found in fatty fish. Monounsaturated fats are also good for your body, these are found in some nuts and in avocados.
Saturated fats are found in animal products such as beef, lamb, cheese and dairy products. To limit the amount of fat in your diet you should choose lean cuts of meat and restrict fried and fast food. Saturated and trans fats should not be avoided at all costs but they certainly they should be limited, this is because diabetics are more susceptible to heart disease. Please see my blog post on diabetes and heart disease here.
Foods high in protein include meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, eggs, and soy foods. Diabetics should focus on eating more fish and poultry to keep weight and cholesterol levels under control. If you are going to eat meat then you should trim the fat off it and bake, roast or grill it. If you are frying something you should use a healthy oil such as olive oil.
The first thing a diabetic needs to understand is what food effects your blood sugar in what way. There are so many different diets out there that make different claims that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The main food that will affect you blood sugar is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down are broken down by your body into glucose for your body’s cells to use as fuel.
The type of carbohydrates that you eat are the most important factor for diabetics to consider. Carbs need to be countered by the insulin that your body produces or that you need to inject into your body if you are a type 1 diabetic. Many diabetics choose to count the carbs that they ingest which may make a lot of sense if you are an insulin dependent diabetic. Please see my blog post on carb counting here. There three types of carbs .
Starch. Foods high in starch include starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas. Also grains like rice, barley, oats. It is best to eat wholegrain foods as they are more nutritious and contain more vitamins than refined grains. Look for wholegrain foods on the front of packages.
Sugar. This is a fast acting carbohydrate. These are the best carbs to consume if you are a type 1 diabetic having a hypoglycemic episode. There are two main types of sugar. Natural sugar such as those found in fresh fruit and added sugar such as those in sweets and processed foods. Added sugar in foods should be limited to best manage your diabetes. Sugar is also like a drug in that it can be highly addictive. Lowering your sugar intake may help you manage your diabetes better.
Fibre. Fibre is found in plant based foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The most high fibre foods come from fruit and vegetables that have an edible skin eg apples. It is ideal to eat between 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day. It is also ideal to get your fibre from foods that you eat but you can also buy a supplement to help get your daily intake of fibre. Fibre can help lower cholesterol levels as well. Please see my blog post about diabetes and high cholesterol here.
A few super-foods for diabetics
Blueberries contain many know antioxidant properties. They are full of fibre and research suggests that they can reduce fat cells while fighting depression and helping regulate blood sugar levels. Blueberries are delicious in smoothies and taste great as a snack or to put on breakfast cereals. Beware that blueberries do contain some natural sugar in them so it would be wise for a type 1 diabetic to monitor their blood sugar levels after eating them. A lot of research has been done on blueberries and it has all come back positive so go for them!
Fish is rich in protein and contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acid that helps cool inflammation. Having a diet rich in fish such as salmon and tuna has been proven to reduce the risk of health problems such as stroke and heart attack. It is important to note that fish should be steamed or baked however. If you get fried fish and chips from the shop you are doing yourself and your body a disservice. I personally love salmon sashimi. I eat it once or twice a week and will always order it at a Japanese restaurant. The health benefits are overwhelmingly positive for a diet high in fish.
Olive oil. A Mediterranean diet that is high in olive oil has been proven to lower the risks of type 2 diabetes significantly. Olive oil contains many antioxidant nutrients that have been proven to protect your cells from disease and can lower your risk of heart attack. It is ideal to cook in the kitchen with olive oil or even make salad dressings that contain olive oil. Unfortunately it is a little bit more expensive than other oils at the supermarket but what price can you put on your health?
Dark chocolate. Yes you heard me right – chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which research has proven reduces insulin resistance whilst lowering your chances of stroke and heart attack and reduce blood pressure. It is important to note that dark chocolate contains a lot more beneficial nutrients than milk chocolate.
For a more comprehensive list of foods that help fight diabetes please see my blog post here.
The best inspiration in the kitchen.
This is an eBook that I recommend highly to all the readers of this blog. It was written by a 5 star chef who was devastated when he learned that he had developed type 2 diabetes. After going on a downward spiral for some time due to early onset of complications associated with diabetes he decided to turn his life around. He used his type 2 diabetes to inspire others in the kitchen as he developed a number of award winning diabetic recipes that cured his disease in a short period of time. I believe that this eBook is well worth a read and some of the recipes taste great especially if you are a type 2 diabetic but they are also great if you are a type 1 diabetic looking to lose weight. Please click here to buy this eBook
Isn’t it a relief to find that there is no limit to the foods diabetics can eat? A healthy diabetic and a healthy non-diabetic will find that they should have roughly the same overall diet. Cheat meals are allowed although for a diabetic you will have to play extra attention to your blood sugar levels if you are eating something with added sugar. The most important point is to understand how different food impacts your blood sugar levels and vital organs.
There are many diets that I have written about on this blog that maybe worth exploring. One popular diet that seems to work is an intermittent fasting diet.
Please let me know below if there are any special foods diabetics can eat that people should know about