7 Keys to a Diabetic Diet
The following article has been written by Shelby Kinnaird from DiabeticFoodie.com. Shelby is helping us kick-off Diabetes Awareness Month by sharing her 7 keys to a diabetic diet.
What’s the best diet for a person with diabetes? It depends.
Some people go extremely low-carb, some use a Paleo-style diet, some follow a ketogenic path. Others use the plate method or count carbohydrates. A few even go totally plant-based.
Everyone’s diabetes is different. You’ll need to play around to see which eating plan works best for you. I’ve tried a lot of things since my Type 2 diagnosis 18 years ago. Here are a few things I’ve learned that work for me.
EAT YOUR VEGETABLES
Your mom was right – you really should eat your vegetables. Non-starchy ones like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, leafy greens, artichokes, green beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, spaghetti squash, and tomatoes give your body the nutrients it needs. Also, remember that your liver likes raw foods. Try to eat something raw at every meal. Eat at least five servings of vegetables per day (one serving is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw). Shop at farmers’ markets.
MAKE YOUR CARBS COUNT
You don’t have to avoid carbs entirely, but you do have to be careful about how many you eat at one time. The best choices are carbs that contain a lot of fiber like beans, whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit. I try to eat less than 40g carb per meal and that’s more than many other people with diabetes eat. Experiment to see what your body can tolerate.
DON’T FEAR FRUIT
Don’t be afraid of fruit! Yes, fruits have sugar, but they also have fiber and beneficial nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. One serving is approximately 1 cup of berries or 1/2 a large apple or banana. I’ve found the fruits that work best for me are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, and oranges. Eating fruit with a meal works better for me than eating it on its own. I consider it dessert!
CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS
Fat isn’t the enemy, but you should be aware that some fats are more beneficial than others. I get most of my dietary fat from extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. I totally avoid trans fats. Be careful when selecting dairy foods; sometimes “low-fat” and “nonfat” foods contain more sugar that their full-fat counterparts. Read the labels.
AVOID PROCESSED FOOD
You know that foods you find in the produce aisle are better for you than those that come in boxes, right? My rule is to stay away from any product that contains a lot of chemical-sounding ingredients on the label. Better yet, avoid foods that have labels! Whisk together your own salad dressing (it’s easy). Make your own pot of soup with fresh ingredients (and a lot less sodium). Stay away from the drive-through and cook your own meals.
CUT BACK ON MEAT AND WHEAT
Once I started eliminating some meat and wheat from my diet, my A1C, lipids, and liver enzymes all improved. I also felt less sluggish and bloated. I’m not 100% vegan or gluten-free, but I eat that way about 80% of the time and my body is much happier.
SAY YES TO WATER, NO TO ALCOHOL
Make water and unsweetened tea your beverages of choice. Once a coffee drinker, I switched to green tea when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Why? I can drink hot tea without sweetener, but not coffee. Plus I reap the health benefits of green tea. Get soda (regular and diet) out of your life for good. Alcohol can be okay for some people, depending on what medications they take. However, I’ve found that it’s much harder to control my blood glucose when I drink. So, for the most part, I don’t.
A single “diabetic diet” that works for everyone does not exist. Take charge and figure out what foods make YOUR body work the best it can. Hopefully, some of the things that work for me will help guide you.
Shelby Kinnaird, publisher of Diabetic Foodie (http://www.diabeticfoodie.com/), was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1999. Her last A1C was 6.4%. You can find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/diabeticFoodie/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/diabeticFoodie), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/diabeticfoodie/), and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thediabeticfoodie/).