Diabetes & Diet: General Info

Your diet directly impacts the sugar levels in your blood. For a diabetic, monitoring the glucose levels of sugar in the blood is of paramount importance. A diabetic should work with a registered dietitian to formulate a meal plan that helps to maintain or lose weight, and to regulate blood glucose levels at as normal a level as possible.

In type 1 diabetes, patients fail to produce insulin that balances their blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, either inadequate insulin amounts are produced or the insulin is not properly utilized by the body.

Serious complications of diabetes include:

  • Neuropathy
  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure.

Regardless of the type of diabetes, proper diet, weight management, and exercise are essential to preventing and managing diabetes. While there is no one diet that applies to everyone with diabetes, eating a balanced diet with attention to some key points can help prevent diabetes and its progression.

Diabetics should focus on the 3 following points to improve their diets:

1.   Eat quality carbohydrates

Quality carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, corn, millet, beans, and nuts. These quality carbohydrates take longer to be broken down by the digestive system and provide sustained energy and sugar levels without glycogen spikes. Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables may satisfy sugar cravings without jeopardizing sugar levels; the fiber in fruits, vegetables, and grains can regulate how quickly sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Highly processed carbohydrates in packaged food such as, fast food, white bread, and white flour products, have a high glycemic index that causes spikes in sugar levels.

For more information on the benefits of diabetics eating more vegetables see the following article from TheDietChannel: Vegetables Lower a Diabetic's Risk for Heart Disease.

2.   Replace bad fats with good fats

Bad fats include the saturated trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are found in many packaged foods, fried foods, and fast foods. These are not only toxic, but can quickly lead to weight gain. Instead, cook with olive oil and eat fish, nuts, or flaxseed supplements to get the right kind of fat in your diet; this will maintain energy levels, protect against heart disease, and actually help in weight loss.

3.   Eat sugary sweets in moderation

Eating sweets once or twice a week is acceptable, if weight is being maintained, and as long as it is part of a balanced diet. Diabetics should avoid dangerous sugar spikes or weight gain due to eating too many sugary, fat-rich foods.