What to Eat When You Have Diabetes

August 8, 2019
Leading a healthy lifestyle, knowing what to eat, and following all the doctor's instructions are essential to keeping diabetes under control.

One of the toughest parts of diabetes is knowing what to eat. There’s no one-size-fits-all meal plan. However, controlling the carbohydrates you consume is essential to keep your blood glucose within the desired levels.

For this, you should know more about the various food groups and be able to choose the most appropriate ones depending on your blood sugar at any given moment.

Keep in mind that not all carbohydrates increase your glucose levels in the same way. It all depends on your specific glycemic index.

The levels of people with a high glycemic index increase faster than those who have medium to low levels. It’s the latter who should be very careful with their diet and regulate it according to their glycemic index on every meal.

Also read: How to Raise a Child with Type 1 Diabetes

Knowing What to Eat is Very Important

A well balanced breakfast.

To properly plan your diet and choose the most convenient ingredients, it’s necessary to know the type and amount of carbohydrates each food group has.

There are two groups of vegetables: those that contain starch and the ones that don’t. Potatoes, corn, and peas belong in the first group, and you should eat them in moderation.

In contrast, non-starchy vegetables such as chard, cauliflower, tomatoes, and carrots contain very few carbohydrates and their glycemic index is low. Thus, they’re also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers, therefore great allies in the diets of those with diabetes.

Most fruits contain carbohydrates. However, most of them have a low glycemic index. Medical professionals recommend incorporating them into your diet due to the many nutrients they can provide.

For example, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries have a low carbohydrate content and a good source of antioxidants and vitamins. The starch content of dried fruit is higher, though, so knowing what portions to eat in this group is important. As an example, just two tablespoons of raisins contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Cereals like wheat, rice, oats and their by-products such as flours are the main sources of carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s very important to limit the quantities you consume. You also need to pay attention to their degree of refinement.

As a general rule, opt for cereals and whole-grain flours. These are more nutritious and have a lower glycemic index.

Likewise, if your goal is to keep your blood glucose levels at bay, then stay away from processed products and refined flours. These often contain large amounts of added sugar.

Discover: How to Control Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

Tips to Keep Diabetes Under Control

A bowl of oatmeal and a glass of milk.

To manage your diabetes, you should take control of your diet by knowing what to eat. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Plan a weekly menu ahead of time. Calculating the carbohydrate portions of every dish you include in it.
  • Make an “acceptable ingredients” shopping list and buy them in advance so you have them at hand when you begin to cook.
  • If you remain hungry after finishing a  meal, you may eat some kind of non-starchy vegetable salad with low-carb, low sugar dressing. You’ll feel more satisfied and will keep your carbohydrate intake low.
  • Choose whole-grain products instead of refined ones. Check the labels to make sure the main ingredient is a whole-grain.

The purpose here is to know what to eat by replacing the ingredients with a higher glycemic index with low-index ones. There are many good substitutes out there. For example, you can replace common potatoes for sweet potatoes, the latter have a lower glycemic index.

Check your glucose levels before every meal to know what to eat at any given time. You can use traditional glucometers, although there are new technologies that may facilitate this task. There are now continuous glucose meters that measure your sugar level data through a sensor implanted in your arm which sends the information directly to your cell phone.

Things to Consider

Finally, always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. They should be able to tell you why some of your options may be more convenient than others, depending on your specific needs.

However, the more attention you pay to what you eat, the easier it’ll be to make corrections and adjustments. You can live a healthy life without going hungry!