Many restrictions come with diabetes. The diet of a person suffering from diabetes has to be adapted to the condition and therefore excludes certain types of food and drinks.
There are numerous food and drinks that a diabetic person should avoid and stay away from. This article will help provide insightful information as to what food and drinks a person with diabetes can consume.
The following practices will aid diabetes control:
- Avoid or limit yourself from eating foods that are high in sodium, trans fat, and saturated fat.
- Avoid starving/depriving yourself, make sure to always eat meals regularly throughout the whole day.
- Always eat first before taking medicine tablets for diabetes/insulin.
- Note that everyone has different needs and preferences, it is always best to consult a certified dietitian/nutritionist and seek a personalized meal plan corresponding your diabetes.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is essential to everyday life. Drinking water helps replenish our bodies and keeps it functional.
Water does not have extra kilojoules (kJ) which makes it practically the best drink for diabetics as it doesn’t provide extra energy (unlike fruit juices, energy drinks, etc.) that can affect a person with diabetes’ level of blood sugar.
Other good and healthy options are:
- Freshly brewed coffee
- Tea (herbal/non-herbal)
- Mineral water (plain)
- A diabetic can still consume sweet drinks, preferably diet drinks and low joule drinks, once in a while as long as they limit their intake.
- If a diabetic chooses to consume alcohol, limit alcohol intake to just 2, if not less, drinks in standard sizes per day. Always make sure to have alcohol-free days in 1 week.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to completely stop consuming sugary food for the rest of your life, there are many healthier alternatives available that may be used to replace sugar such as sweeteners like Stevia, Splenda, Equal, Sugarine, etc.
These sweeteners are great alternatives most especially if they were to be used to replace a great size of sugar.
A balanced diet plan that contains food with little sugar does not largely affect a diabetic’s blood sugar levels.
As previously mentioned, a diabetic is still allowed to enjoy sweets but only occasionally.
The best kind of sweets to consume once in a while for diabetics are those of sweetened using alternative sweeteners or are sugar-free like diet cordials, diet drinks, sugar-free ice creams, sugar-free candies, etc.
Keep in mind that these kinds of sweets don’t have nutritional benefits so it is still best to go for nutritious food like vegetables, nuts, fruits, and to always drink water.
Sources of protein
Protein is one of the most important nutrients needed by the body. It is responsible for building and repairing the body’s tissues.
Protein breaks down into amino acids instead of glucose so it doesn’t necessarily affect a person’s blood sugar levels.
The main food that contains protein are:
- Cheese, Yogurt, Milk
- Seeds, Beans
- Soy, Tofu
- Meats like white meat, chicken, lean beef, pork tenderloin, fish
Some of these protein foods also contain other essential nutrients like carbohydrates, these foods include yogurt and milk, beans, legumes, and lentils, etc.
The aforementioned food could affect the blood sugar levels of a person but not significantly.
It is essential to match your food intake with your energy usage.
If you have gone through an extraneous activity (playing sports, working out, running, etc.) then you must eat the approximate energy that you’ve burned throughout the day.
Do not fuel your body with too much energy as it can cause weight gain. Weighing too much or being obese can hinder the way you manage and control your diabetes.
Furthermore, it can also increase the chances of suffering a stroke, heart disease, and even cancer. Avoid and/or limit yourself from eating foods that have high energy like:
- fruit juices or any other drinks that contain too much sugar
- savory snacks
- ready-to-eat food/takeaway food
- sugary biscuits
It is good to follow a healthy diet but it should also be regulated. The best option is to consult a specialist to learn how to portion your food in the best way to reduce your energy intake.
Being physically active also plays a great role in balancing energy.
Involving yourself in different physical activities while eating healthy greatly affects the body in many different ways.
It can help manage the blood sugar levels, lower blood fats like triglycerides and cholesterol, and help maintain a proper, healthy weight.
Carbohydrates are one of the top 3 most important nutrients needed by the body.
Foods rich in carbohydrates play a huge role in a diet because they are in charge of giving energy to the body, most especially the brain.
Unlike protein, carbohydrate foods break down into glucose once digested.
The glucose forms in a person’s bloodstream, insulin then takes the glucose and transfers them into our muscles and other cells inside the body that will provide us energy.
Most foods containing carbohydrates also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber which aid in healthy bowel movement and overall metabolism.
People have different carbohydrate needs depending on the activities that they involve themselves in, their age, their weight, and their gender.
A diabetic should consult a certified dietitian and seek advice before deciding how much carbohydrates he/she needs to consume per meal.
To some people, going with a low carb diet works better in managing their diabetes and to others vice versa. It is essential to eat meals that have evenly spread carbohydrate content regularly.
This is to maintain the energy levels without any fluctuation. For diabetics taking medicine tablets and/or insulin, it is best to eat a meal/snack before consuming them.
As mentioned before, carbohydrate food break down into glucose and enter a person’s bloodstream once digested, but not all of them do so at the same rate – some foods produce glucose fast while some take longer.
Always discuss with your doctor or dietician to know what kind of carbohydrate foods need to be part of your daily diet.
Fats are also one of the most important nutrients needed by the body as it contains the highest energy content (calorie and kilojoule) of all nutrients.
Although consuming a lot of fat can make a person gain weight which can hinder blood sugar management.
The human body needs fat to live but always go for the ‘good’ fat like avocados, etc.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that can raise a person’s ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). Saturated fat can be found in butter, animal-based food, milk, cheese, etc.
The following practices can help reduce your saturated fat intake:
- Limit yourself from eating creamy soups
- Limit yourself from eating cakes, pastries, puddings, and cream biscuits excessively
- Trim fat from meat before cooking and eating
- Choose reduced or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, ice-cream, and custard
- Remove skin from poultry food (chicken, duck, etc.) before cooking and eating
- Limit yourself from eating too many processed meats
- Avoid eating too much takeaway food, especially fried
- Choose tomato or any low-fat based dressings
- Avoid eating pies and pastries excessively
- Try to eat grilled white meat or fish as much as possible
- Avoid using margarine, butter, creams (sour, coconut, etc), lard, etc.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
Consuming polyunsaturated and monounsaturated kinds of fats in moderation can aid in providing the body the essential vitamins and acids it needs without raising the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Some foods that contain polyunsaturated fats are:
- Fat found in fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel
- Safflower & sunflower
- Sesame oil
- ‘Polyunsaturated’ labeled margarine
Some foods that contain monounsaturated fats are:
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
Peanut oils and nut spreads also have both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat content.