A diabetic diet is important for many reasons. Foods that help lower blood sugar levels also help to control weight and lower the risk of certain diseases.
As with any healthy eating program, a person should consult their doctor before beginning a new diet plan, especially if they have diabetes or pre-diabetes. However, there are some guidelines that diabetics should keep in mind when planning and preparing meals:
Avoid foods containing simple sugars:
these cause the blood sugar to rise quickly and then plummet. Make sure you are consuming foods that help lower blood sugar.
Choose whole grains over processed ones:
while they may be more difficult to digest, they provide longer-lasting energy without spiking the blood sugar level.
Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day:
fruits that are high in natural sugars, such as oranges or mangoes, should be eaten with other foods. These fruits can also provide potassium and vitamin C, which diabetics often do not get enough of (and may need to take supplements for).
Take steps to avoid weight gain:
if you are overweight or obese, losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight can decrease the chances of developing diabetes.
Avoid using table sugar:
instead aim for alternatives like spices like cinnamon (which stabilizes blood sugar levels), stevia (which is actually an herb), or honey.
Protein foods will help keep hunger under control longer than carbohydrates or fat. Lean meats, fish, and poultry are good sources of protein. Try to avoid fried or breaded foods as much as possible. If you choose to eat red meat, make sure that it is lean beef or pork without any visible fat on it.
Grilled or baked versions of recipes are healthier than fried foods; when frying try using only a little oil (olive oil for example) instead of butter (which can actually raise cholesterol levels).
Diabetics should also be wary of dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt; although they contain calcium and other essential vitamins, many types also contain high amounts of animal fat which can raise cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. As with meat intake, moderation is the key to including these products in your diet.
One of the most important things that diabetics should keep in mind is how to eat out at restaurants or other people’s homes. Generally, it’s best to avoid buffets and salad bars as they encourage overeating and unhealthy food choices due to their large selections and convenience. However, if you do happen across a buffet, look for healthy foods like vegetables and fruit salads first. If you must go down the list of meats and sides, choose unprocessed items – cheese instead of fried mozzarella sticks, croutons on your salad instead of processed croutons. Follow these guidelines to make healthy choices when eating out at restaurants or someone else’s home. You can still live a normal life and eat what you want – just be smart about it and consume foods that help lower blood sugar.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, or express an interest in lowering your blood sugar levels or losing weight, be sure to speak with a physician before beginning a new diet plan. However, these tips should help get you started on the right track towards better health and a slimmer waistline.