A healthy eating pattern is an essential part of managing diabetes. The diet should include:
- High-fibre, low-glycemic index carbohydrates.
- Lean protein.
- Fats that are lower in saturated fat and less salty.
Begin your day with a diabetes-friendly breakfast, such as plain yogurt with fruit and nuts or scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast.
A balanced diabetic diet plan can help manage blood sugar, weight, and heart health. Start by creating a meal plan that includes whole grains, lean protein, and low glycemic fruits/veggies. Set SMART goals, track your progress, and seek support for long-term success.
A cup of milk or yogurt has about 12 grams of carbohydrates, so include these in your carbohydrate allotment. However, don’t limit dairy to low-fat options, as these may contain more saturated fat than you need.
Eating a variety of whole grains helps reduce diabetes risk. Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain complex carbohydrates less likely to affect blood sugar levels.
Grains are hard, edible, dry seeds that grow on grass-like plants called cereals. They are the single largest source of energy in the human diet. Whole grains are high in fiber, magnesium, iron, B vitamins, and phytonutrients. Grains are also a good source of protein and healthy fats. A diet rich in whole grains is linked to a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
A diabetes-friendly diet is full of a variety of fruits. Fruits are rich in fiber, which slows the rise of blood sugar. It’s essential to choose the right portion size. One-third to a half cup of 100% fruit juice or dried fruits contain about 15 g of carbohydrates.
Aim to eat a small fruit at each meal or snack time. Also, consider incorporating low-fat and unsweetened nondairy milk into your meals as a source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. But don’t use dairy products to replace other protein foods.
While cutting back on red meat is a good idea for anyone, it is vital for people with diabetes because excess saturated fat impacts blood sugar levels. Processed meats and skinless poultry like chicken are also loaded with sodium and saturated fat, and overeating can add to weight gain, making diabetes more difficult to manage.
For those who choose to eat meat, opt for lean cuts of beef like round, chuck, or sirloin. Avoid fattier pork and lamb cuts; always trim visible fat before cooking. Grass-fed meat may be healthier since animals raised this way have a more beneficial fat profile.
People with diabetes should eat various vegetables, especially non-starchy options like kale, spinach, and arugula. These plant foods are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help reduce chronic disease. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and limit sodium. Also, opt for unsaturated fats from olive and canola oils, avocados, and nuts. Eating three meals and two snacks a day is important, and always include protein with carbs (such as an apple with peanut butter or plain yogurt with berries).
In addition to stocking the freezer with nutritious options, make a goal of cooking at home more than eating out. Use cookbooks, websites, and recipe apps to find meals that meet your diabetes needs. Try breakfasts like boiled sweet potatoes or Greek yogurt with berries. These foods rank lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes and are also loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.