The month of November is American Diabetes month, celebrated by the American Diabetes Association, CDC, and other organizations. This is why this week’s blog post is about a major question associated with diabetes. What is a good diet for diabetes?
What food should I eat?
Choosing a good diet for diabetes can be difficult because it can be hard to know what foods should be eaten or avoided. The basic answer people get when asking how to eat is to eat healthy. Of course, most people know that fruits and vegetables are healthier than pastries but other foods are just as good.
- Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, squash, and leafy green vegetables like spinach.
- Fruit without added sugars like fresh, drained, and rinsed canned fruit, and frozen fruit. Some good examples of fruit are strawberries, avocados, and apples.
- Whole-grain foods like whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
- Legumes like black, pinto, and kidney beans. Fat-free refried beans are also a good choice.
- Lean meats and plant-based proteins like chicken, seafood, eggs, and cheese. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are also a good choice.
- Good unsaturated fats like omega 3. Some examples are flax seeds, olive oil, and nuts.
Some great examples of recipes can be found on this page or on Yumlish’s recipe page here.
What food should I avoid?
It is important to remember what food should be avoided for a diet for diabetes. It is fine to eat the foods on this list as long as they are in small amounts and the majority of your diet contains foods from the list above.
- Sugary drinks like regular soda and fruit punch.
- Refined grains like white bread and rice. These can increase your blood sugar quicker than food with whole wheat.
- Fried food.
- Alcohol because when consumed on an empty stomach can increase the risk of low blood sugar.
- Processed meats like bacon and cold cuts. These meats are high in salt and can increase the chance of heart disease.
- Candy and sweet desserts like pastries.
What are the different diets for diabetes?
There are many different proposed diet plans for diabetes. There is not necessarily one best plan because each plan has its pros and cons. Ultimately it depends on which plan works best for an individual. Diet plans do not have to be strictly followed either but can be adapted to fit your lifestyle and culture. That said, diet plans are a good place to start and get inspiration from.
The plate method is the diet suggested by the American Diabetes Association. A basic overview of the plate method starts with a 9-inch plate or serving size. The plate is divided into ½ vegetables, ¼ starch, and ¼ protein for a meal. For example, ½ of the plate is a salad, ¼ is rice, and ¼ is pozole de pollo. The benefits of using the plate method are the focus on eating vegetables and that it is relatively simple. All that is required is to section off food on your plate.
Carb counting is another popular method to manage blood sugar levels. Carbs have a high impact on blood sugar levels which is why counting carbs can be used to control blood sugar levels. When deciding to count carbs it is best to visit a dietician or doctor to find out how many carbs you should eat in a day. Some benefits of using this method are that insulin injections and exercise can be adjusted to fit the number of carbs counted to give better control over diabetes management.
The glycemic index is another diet for diabetes. With this diet, foods are ranked low, medium, and high based on how much the food can raise blood sugar levels. So with this diet, it is best to eat foods ranked low or medium and limit the amount of high-leveled foods. The benefits of this diet are that the risk of eating certain foods is labeled and a list of less harmful foods can be found.
The 3 diet options discussed are not the only diets for diabetes. There are many different diets with many different methods. One other diet is whole-person integrated eating, more information can be found here. The best way to find a diet that works for you is to start with one diet then modify it to fit your lifestyle and culture or contact a dietician.