Food recommendations for diabetics are far less restrictive now than in the past. You don’t necessarily have to eat any special foods, but you do need to make healthy choices and know how your activity level, diet and medication can affect your blood glucose levels.
A dietitian or diabetes educator can help you devise an eating plan that fits your lifestyle, including your weight, gender and activity level.
How Does Food Affect Your Diabetes?
The foods you eat will have a great effect on your blood glucose levels. You’ll need to learn how particular foods, as well as the frequency and timing of your meals, cause your blood sugar to rise and fall.
It’s all about keeping your blood sugar within your targeted ranges. If your levels stay too high, you can suffer nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease or other complications. If your blood sugar falls too low, you may become dizzy, have a fast heartbeat or experience more serious complications such as a diabetic coma.
Additional Health Considerations
If you have other health concerns, you may need to make additional adjustments to your diet. For example, many diabetics also have high blood pressure so a lower sodium diet may be in order. You may also need to watch your intake of cholesterol, since diabetics are at higher risk for having heart disease.
- Be very aware of the effects that carbohydrates have on your blood sugar. Carbohydrates are found in foods such as breads and pastas; and some can make your blood sugar rise quickly.
- Spread your carbohydrate intake throughout the day so your blood sugar levels don’t spike.
- Most diabetics need to eat three meals a day and two snacks.
- Watch your caloric intake to help maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
Eat Plenty of the Following:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Yellow vegetables
- Non-fat dairy products
- “Good” fats like those found in pecans, almonds and avocados
- Lean meats
There are many “superfoods” that you can include in your diet, such as those in the chart below.
Avoid Too Many of the Following Foods:
- Corn, potatoes or other starchy vegetables (especially canned varieties, which often are high in sodium)
- Cereals with lots of added sugar
- Trans fats, frequently found in baked good and processed snacks
- High-fat dairy products like whole milk
- Meats high in saturated fats like bacon or hot dogs
- High-cholesterol foods like egg yolks and liver
Your specific dietary needs can be addressed by your dietitian and diabetes educator. By eating a varied diet of healthy foods that takes into account the impact of particular foods on your blood sugar levels, you can minimize the negative effects of diabetes.
Want to know more? Find more helpful information and tips by visiting our “Lifestyle” section.