Are you a diabetic who hasn’t yet found the answer to the question “what can diabetics eat?” If so, then this article is for you. Many diabetics who’ve had the disease for several years are still unable to figure out the right diet plan to ensure that they get all the right nutrients, while also maintaining their blood sugar levels. This is not due to the fact that there aren’t proper guidelines as to diet plans, but the fact that the majority of diabetics do not make an attempt to try and work on their dietary requirements. This is a grave mistake as diabetes may not only be caused by other medical conditions such as obesity, but it may also lead to other medical complications if not controlled.
This article will cover all the basics of diabetes and recommended foods so that you can start controlling your blood sugar levels with good results.
Diabetes and blood sugar levels
Diabetes is primarily caused as a result of the pancreas producing little or no insulin. So why is this important? It is this insulin that helps the glucose in the blood to move into the cells that require them, in your body. When the amount of insulin is low, the glucose tends to be concentrated in the blood stream – the reason why blood tests reveal glucose levels. This glucose is the by-product of the process of metabolism in our bodies.
Blood sugar levels can either be normal, slightly below/above normal, or in the worst case, can go to one of the two extremes, resulting in either hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar levels). While the former condition could have an effect on the brain and other organs, hypoglycemia could result in blindness or could lead to limbs being amputated. This is exactly why you need to always check your blood glucose levels at regular intervals.
Type of diabetes vs. what can diabetics eat?
There are three main types of diabetes; two are chronic while the other is generally temporary. You need to understand what type of diabetes you have in order to determine which foods are right for you.
While Type 1 diabetes requires insulin to be administered, Type 2 diabetes generally doesn’t require insulin for treatment; normal medication should suffice. You need to consider your diet in line with the medication/insulin you take as you need to find a balance.
The third type, gestational diabetes, generally occurs during pregnancy and is temporary.
Different diabetes diet plans
It’s always best to have a guideline when it comes to choosing food for your daily meals. This is why there are a few different types of diet plans that are available for diabetics.
- The calorie diet/ counting carbs – This diet helps you watch the intake of carbohydrates by specifying which foods are high in carbs and which foods don’t contain a high level of carbohydrates. Examples include the 1200-calorie diet, the 1600-calorie diet and the 1800-calorie diet.
- The plate system – In this method you are encouraged to divide your plate into four quarters and then decide what portions of each type of food you wish to have to give you a balanced, nutritious meal.
- The food pyramid – The food pyramid classifies food into six different groups based on the amount of nutrients and carbohydrates they contain, with four different levels to help you choose the right combination of food from each group.
- The diabetes exchange list – This method recommends food items that could be substituted for another in the same group due to similar carbohydrate content.
Once you choose one of these methods to follow, you then need to understand what food you can eat, and what food you need to avoid.
What you CAN eat as diabetic
Fruits – There are many different types of fruit that are good for diabetics. These fruits include apricots, peaches, figs, apples, avocado and all kinds of berries, to name a few. It’s best that you limit consumption of fruits like bananas and mangoes however.
Fruits are generally rich in carbohydrates, but most of these are low-carb and are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. You need to keep away from dried fruits and canned fruit in syrup.
Vegetables – When choosing vegetables, you always need to go for those that are non-starchy. Examples of such vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprout, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, beets and most greens. You would want to keep away from starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams.
Starchy food – What would generally fall into this category are items such as rice, pasta, bread and other similar foods. Anything made out of white flour is not good for you, but you can use whole-wheat products as a substitute.
Dairy products – Ensure that all dairy products you consume are fat-free or low-fat. You must have dairy products in your diet as it gives you the calcium that you require. Examples include milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Meat and others – Poultry products are best eaten skinless as they would contain less fat. All types of fish and seafood can also be incorporated into your diet. Additionally products like eggs are also important. Meat products must be consumed after cutting off any fat. Examples include beef, pork, turkey, organ meats and even hot dogs.
Always ensure that the food you consume is low in sodium content and fats.
Exercise, medication and rest
Always keep in mind that while it’s vital that you eat right, this alone will not help you keep your blood sugar levels under control. You also need to get a good amount of sleep each night, and get rid of anything that triggers stress. These are factors that greatly contribute to high blood sugar levels.
You also need to visit your doctor often to ensure that the medication prescribed is actually working.
If you follow the guidelines mentioned above, the question as to what can diabetics eat should no longer be a problem.