Choosing the Right Diabetes Diet
When it comes to the concept of “diets,” most people perceive them as restricting and dull. But diets for diabetes can actually be far from confining to bland foods, especially when choosing the right one!
Diets for Diabetes
A diabetes diet encourages the limitation of highly processed and refined products, gravitation towards more wholesome and nourishing foods, and ultimately the implementation of the following recommendations:
Choose Whole Grains
Choose whole grains and wheat products over refined products, as wheat and related grains contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that white and processed foods generally lack. Equally important, divvy away from desserts and pastries created with refined flours and sugars to reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes and followed drops.
Color the Plate with Veggies
Colorful veggies burst with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. And while all vegetables supply valuable nutrients, they are not all treated the same. In fact, veggies are broken down into "starchy" and "non-starchy" varieties, with starchy vegetables being higher in carbohydrates compared to non-starchy types. The meal plate should mostly comprise of non-starchy veggies (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, kale, and spinach) with non-starchy veggies (sweet and russet potatoes, corn, peas, and squash, pumpkin) being moderated to keep carb content in balance.
While fruits are thought to be "off limits" related to their sugar content, they can absolutely be enjoyed! Not only do they offer natural sweetness to curb your sweet tooth, but supply adequate fiber and nutrients. When it comes to fruit juice, select an unsweetened product and limit to a 4-ounce (or half cup) serving. Also choose canned fruit packaged in their natural juice or water rather than added sugars and syrups.
Always Include Protein
Offering protein at meals is extremely valuable in improving blood sugars, inducing satiety, and supplying the building blocks to support lean body mass. Lean animal meats are naturally absent in carbohydrate and include sources as chicken, turkey, sirloin, fish and shellfish. Beans, lentils, soybeans, nuts and seeds are valuable plant-based protein sources, though it is important to stay mindful of their carb and fat content they both supply.
Dairy products contain natural sugar, known as lactose, and are also excellent sources of calcium protein. While the debate of nonfat versus full-fat milk lives on, it is important to pay attention to the ingredient and nutrition label when choosing dairy products, as yogurt (especially) is notorious for containing added sugars.
Complement with Healthy Fats and Oils
Swap out butters and margarine's with healthy fats, including monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and omega-3 fatty acids, as they are shown to be heart-protective and bountiful in antioxidants. Recommendations suggest two to three servings of fish per week is beneficial, while olive oil has even been suggested to manage after-meal blood sugar levels.
Stay Mindful of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
Compared to natural or refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols provide a lower glycemic response and are lower in carb. And while they appear to be safe, people have reported unpleasant gastric discomfort following their consumption, with large doses potentially causing diarrhea. And while consuming regular soda is discouraged, recent and ongoing data suggests its artificially-sweetened counterpart may be just as harmful to health, including concerns regarding weight and blood sugars.
Moderating alcohol is important for all aspects of health, including diabetes management. Especially in the absence of food, alcohol may induce hypoglycemia. If you are to drink men are encouraged to consume no more than two drinks per day, with women limited to one, along with pairing with food to lessen the risk of hypoglycemia.
Stick to Portion and Serving Sizes
Though the food quality and variety is imperative to a healthy diet, a diabetes diet further stresses the importance of meal timing and portions for tighter blood glucose control. Most commonly, a diabetes meal plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack or two with most meals advised to contain no more than 60 grams of carbohydrate (four carb exchanges) and snacks sticking to 15 grams (one carb exchange).
Choosing the Best Diabetes Diet
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