In order to effectively control and/or prevent diabetes, close monitoring of one’s diet is essential. When it comes to losing weight, however, what you eat will have the biggest impact; although exercise matters quite a lot, as well.
Contrary to popular belief though, a diabetic’s nutritional requirement is exactly the same as everybody else’s–no special food, nothing really complicated.
A diabetic diet is simply one that is high in nutrients, low in fat, and moderate in calories, making it healthy for non-diabetics, as well. (We recommend the South Beach Diet as a good diet plan for diabetics)
Opt for high-fiber carbohydrates
Compared to fats and proteins, carbohydrates have the most influence on blood sugar levels.What you need to do is to restrain your intake of highly processed carbohydrates (such as pasta, white bread, and rice), soda, junk foods, etc. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber, like brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams, whole wheat pasta and bread, rolled oats, etc.
These types of carbohydrates helps even out blood sugar levels as they are digested more slowly, preventing your body from producing too much insulin. They also allow you to stay full longer and provides energy.One way to determine which carbohydrates are best for your diet is through the Glycemic Index (GI).
The GI allows you to figure out how quickly food is converted to sugar in your system. High GI foods raises the blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have minimal effects. Needless to say, a diabetic diet must consist of low GI food entries.
Here’s a simplified way to do it:
- Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, beans, and fruits, like apples, pears, peaches, berries, bananas, mangoes, and papayas.
- Eat whole grains, such as whole-kernel bread, brown rice, and whole barley, millet, and wheat berries as much as possible. But you can also have minimally processed ones, like stone-ground bread, steel-cut oats, and natural granola or muesli breakfast cereals.
- Narrow down your intake of white potatoes, refined grain products, and concentrated sweets. Make white breads and white pasta as side dishes instead. Make ice cream an occasional treat and limit fruit juices to not more than a cup a day. Totally steer clear of sweetened drinks.
- Choose healthy proteins and fats, such as beans, fish, skinless chicken, olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and avocados. Say no hydrogenated fats, which are usually found in fast foods and many packaged goods.
- Have 5-6 meals a day, eating slowly and stopping when you’re full. Never skip breakfast.
Be careful about sweets
Just because you have diabetes, doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate sugar in your diet. What is important is for you to be smart about your sweet choices and keep your consumption moderate.
Probably the most important question is: how do you incorporate sweets in a diabetic diet? It’s quite simple actually. Here’s how:
- Forget the bread or pasta if you’re having dessert. Consuming sweets during a meal means additional intake of carbohydrates. Therefore, it is best to cut down on carbs during the same meal.
- Add a little healthy fat to your dessert. Fat slows down digestion, meaning blood sugar levels don’t spike as quickly. Opt for healthy fats like those that can be found on peanut butter, ricotta cheese, yogurt, and some nuts.
- Eat sweets with a meal. Eaten on their own, sweets and desserts can rapidly increase your blood sugar levels. To slow it down, eat them along with other healthy foods as part of your meal.
- Savor each bite. Enjoy your dessert. Bite, chew, and bask in all its deliciousness. This will also prevent you from overeating.
- And to cut down on your sugar intake, here’s how:Reduce your soda and juice intake. Instead, have sparkling water, plain or with a little juice mixed in.
- Reducesugar amounts by ¼ to ⅓ when cooking or increase sweetness by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way. Instead of ice cream, blend up frozen bananas for a creamy, frozen treat. Or enjoy a small chunk of dark chocolate, rather than your usual milk chocolate bar.
Choose healthy fats
Diabetics must be careful with their fat intake, especially since they are more prone to heart diseases. Fats are also high in calories. Therefore, portion sizes must also be closely monitored.What are healthy fats?
These are unsaturated founds, which usually comes from plant and fish sources. Examples are olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. These also include omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds, which can fight inflammation and are known to be good for the heart.
To effectively increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet, here’s what you can do:
- Cook with olive oil.
- Remove any visible fat from meat before cooking. Peel of the skin before cooking chicken and turkey.
- Snack on nuts or seeds.
- Grill, broil, or bake.
- Have fish 2 or 3 times week instead of red meat.
- When baking, use canola oil or applesauce instead of butter.
Eat at regularly set times
When a regular meal schedule is maintained, the body will be able to regulate blood sugar levels better. Consistently have moderate meal or snack portion sizes.