Nutrition for Diabetes – Essential Tips
A diagnosis of diabetes can be a scary thing to be faced with, but if you manage the condition properly then you can enjoy a relatively normal life and expect a good lifespan too. Poorly managed diabetes can be life-threatening, so it is important that you learn as much as you can about nutrition for diabetes, as well as any medication that you need to take.
There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition which means that the pancreas is damaged and does not produce enough insulin. Someone with type 1 diabetes will need to inject insulin on a regular basis, and will also have to manage their condition through following a careful diet. Type 2 diabetes is a condition which means that the body is not producing enough insulin, or that they are ‘insulin resistant’. This is usually managed through diet and exercise.
What Foods Should People With Diabetes Avoid
When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may be given a diabetic diet food list that covers things to eat and things to avoid.
In general, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes should avoid foods that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates. This means avoiding candy, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, crackers and potato chips, as well as being careful with sugary drinks, fruit juice and alcohol.
There is no need to avoid all sugar, but if you are going to consume sugar while following a diabetic diet sheet then you should monitor your blood glucose, and also aim to consume your sugar around the same time as the rest of your meal, so that it is digested alongside other foods.
What is The Best Diet for Diabetics?
Some people who are suffering from diabetes swear by the keto diet, however there is no need for nutrition for diabetes to be that extreme. The American Diabetes Association does not push a specific named diet, but does provide a diabetic diet chart that is like a modified version of the foot pyramid.
This suggests whole grains and starches as the bulk of the diet, with vegetables eaten in quantity as well. They recommend some fruit (2-4 servings per day) and some milk (2-3 servings per day), along with meat or a high protein meat substitute. Fats, sweets and alcohol on are classed as things that should be strictly limited, and consumed only for special occasions.
What are the Nutritional Needs of a Diabetic?
Overall, nutrition for diabetes is very similar to nutrition for someone who is not suffering from the condition. For good health, the human body needs the correct balance of protein and healthy fats. Some carbohydrates are useful for energy as well, and it is important to get enough dietary fiber. Often, diabetic diet recipes are so worried about avoiding things that might spike a person’s blood sugar that they forget about grains and starches that are an important source of fiber.
When you are considering nutrition for diabetes, make sure that you include lots of vegetables and quality protein sources. Once those are included, for the most part, the rest of the diet will take care of itself if you avoid sugary drinks, cakes, and snacks.
What Foods Help Lower Blood Sugar Quickly?
There are some foods that can help to stabilize blood sugar, and these make a useful addition to any diabetes diet menu. You should not rely on these foods to keep your blood sugar in check if you are a Type 1 diabetic, and even if you are suffering from Type 2 diabetes it is important that you pay attention to your overall diet and keep up to date with your check-ups.
Plant-based protein sources can be useful for controlling blood sugar levels, and studies show that cacao can help to reduce insulin resistance. This is not a license to eat lots of chocolate. The greatest risk/reward comes from consuming just one or two small squares of high-quality dark chocolate per day. Avoid brands that contain lots of sugar, because that would undo the benefit.
Non-starchy vegetables are another useful option for controlling blood sugar, and since they are usually rich in fiber too they have extra benefits there.
What Foods to Stay Away From if you are Borderline Diabetic?
If your doctor has told you that you are pre-diabetic, or on the border of diabetes, then you should make some changes to your diet as quickly as possible. People who are pre-diabetic are not guaranteed to develop diabetes if they get their diet and lifestyle in check as quickly as possible.
Many people who are pre-diabetic are classified by medical charts as being overweight or obese, and if they are able to lose weight then that will reduce their risk because weight loss tends to reduce insulin resistance.
Your best option is to avoid sugary snacks and drinks, cut back on alcohol consumption and also avoid simple carbohydrates. Aim to eat more complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables, and protein. A small amount of fruit is OK, because while fruit does contain sugars, it also contains fiber and this helps to reduce the glycemic load on the body.
Getting regular exercise, drinking lots of water, and eating more whole foods and fewer simple ‘processed’ foods will put you on the path to avoiding diabetes. Avoid sweetened cereals, sweetened yogurts, white bread, honey, flavored drinks, and chocolate.
Your doctor will give you some advice about your diet when you are diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, and you should follow their advice. Be sure to attend your check-ups, and to take any medication that you are given in accordance with the instructions. Diabetes is a serious disease and it should not be ignored, but if you do diligently take care of yourself you can stop the condition progressing, and in the case of type 2 diabetes it may even be possible to reverse its progress and have ‘normal’ blood sugars and insulin response once again.