Diabetic Diet Dos and Don’ts

You’ve got diabetes. What do you eat now?

A pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean you’ve got to start making some serious dietary and lifestyle changes. What a pre-diabetic eats has the potential of slowing the progression of or even preventing the disease all together. Food choices for a diabetic help manage the disease and improve how you feels.

If you fall into one of these camps, you know you’re supposed to avoid foods that raise your blood sugar, but what are those foods? You may be wondering, “What exactly am I supposed to eat?”

Thankfully, you can still enjoy foods from each food group. You just have to be picky and choosy in each group. From each major food group, here’s a breakdown of the best and worst foods for diabetics.

Bread, Grain, Starch

You can’t cut this food group completely, because your body needs carbs for energy. You just need to choose wisely. Always go for whole-grain varieties of bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and tortillas. Look for foods that contain the bran and germ of the whole grain. Enriched wheat flour doesn’t pass the test.

At the same time, you will want to steer clear of foods made from processed grains and white flour. Sugary cereals, French fries, white bread, white rice, and fried white tortillas are poor options for those with diabetes.

Protein

Protein supports healthy cells and provides energy. Sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, cheese, and tofu. The way these foods are prepared makes the biggest difference for a diabetic. Choose lean cuts of meat and reduced-fat cheeses rather than the full-fat options. Always bake, grill, or broil your food rather than fry it. Trim the skin and fat off your poultry and choose turkey bacon over pork.

Dairy

Keep your bones and teeth strong with the calcium you get from dairy products. A diabetic’s best choices for dairy include skim or one-percent milk; low-fat options of cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream; non-fat creamers; and frozen yogurt for a treat.

The worst choices for dairy are full-fat options like whole milk, ice cream, and regular varieties of the foods listed above.

Vegetables

High in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and naturally low in sodium and fat, most fresh vegetables are a healthy choice for diabetics. Dark green, leafy vegetables like lettuce, kale, arugula, and spinach are especially good for you. The way you prepare or buy your vegetables makes a big difference in their goodness for you. Eating them raw, roasted, grilled, or steamed is best and buying fresh, frozen, or canned with minimal sodium is the way to go.

Eating veggies smothered in butter, cheese, salt, or other sauce may make your taste buds go bananas, but this also negates their goodness.

Fruits

Fresh fruit is always a healthy option. High in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates, fruit is also low in fat and sodium. However, watch out for canned fruit, juice, and applesauce made with added sugars and heavy syrups. Only choose 100-percent fruit juices and sugar-free jams and jellies.

Fats and Oils

Foods from this group should be eaten sparingly as they are high in calories and make managing diabetes difficult. Choose margarine rather than butter; reduced-fat and light varieties of salad dressings and mayonnaise over regular, air-popped popcorn instead of butter-flavored; and baked chips rather than fried potato chips.

Beverages

Diabetics must also watch what they drink. Water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, and light beer are your best bets while sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks, regular beer, sweet wines, and coffee with cream and sugar are poor choices.

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