Persons living with diabetes carry the burden of carefully planning each food item they eat. The foods for diabetics aim at regulating insulin levels as well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure, a healthy body weight and preventing diabetic related complications.
“Diabetic diets” often appear boring and bland with many do’s and don’ts that might overwhelm the newly diagnosed diabetic. There are also several myths concerning the foods to be eaten which include total avoidance of sugar, eating a highly rich protein diet and doing away with all carbohydrates.
A diabetic, however, needs a nutrient rich diet containing proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Moderation is the key. High fiber slow release carbohydrates like whole grains are digested more slowly. This helps to regulate the production of insulin in the body. Fruits are best eaten whole while the vegetables chosen should be fresh and rich in color. Plant-based proteins which include beans and peas are preferable along with fish proteins.
- Vegetables are the backbone of your meals. Fill half your plate with nutrient dense, colorful veggies. Examples include carrots, broccoli, and spinach. You may also choose to have them as salads.
- Eat a variety of high-fibre foods which include whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa. This should cover a quarter of your plate.
- Good quality proteins like beans, lentils, and eggs fill up the remaining quarter of your plate. Fish and shellfish are also highly recommended as they are low in fat, unlike red meats.
- Whole fruits offer a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. Go for colorful fruits like apples, cranberries, and avocados.
- Use unsaturated fats for cooking and dressing your salads. This includes olive oil and sunflower oil. These can also be obtained from nuts and avocados.
- Eat short regular meals. This help in the regulation of insulin production.
- Low-fat dairy products with the least amount of added sugar are best for diabetics. This includes low-fat yogurts and milk.
- Nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds are rich in proteins and good fats. they can be eaten on their own or used to dress up salads as well as using their oils for cooking.
1. Avoid saturated fats found in high-fat dairy products, processed meats, fried foods and some baked products like cakes.
2. Avoid fruit juice beverages.
3. Reduce your salt intake as this can lead to heart disease.
4. Avoid excess sugars like those found in soft drinks.These give you added calories which lead to weight gain and blood sugar spikes.
5. Avoid creamy sauces and dressings and go for low-fat alternatives.
How to cook for a diabetic
Having now known what foods to eat and those to avoid, we now look at how best we can get the nutrients from these foods. We have seen that fried and processed foods contain high ratios of unhealthy fats as well as high sodium contents which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Stir frying vegetables is not only a quick way to cook your meals but it preserves the nutrients while maintaining the rich colors and taste of the meal. Cooking with unsaturated fats like canola oil also helps in maintaining the healthy fats desired.
Steaming is also another way of getting the most out of your food. Foods that can be steamed include fish and vegetables.
Dry roasting and grilling are also other ways of preparing your food while maintaining the nutrients.
Foods for Diabetics
The lists below show a variety of nutrient dense foods that are recommended for anyone living with diabetes.
2)Fruits; Apples, avocados, berries like raspberries, cranberries, and blueberries
3)Proteins; Skinless chicken and turkey, fish, legumes like beans and lentils, lLow-fat dairy products
4) Carbohydrates; Whole wheat bread-Whole grain cereals like oatStarchy vegetables like sweet potatoes
5)Healthy fats; Canola oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil
Conclusion Diabetics do not really need special diets per se. A healthy balanced diet eaten in short regular meals goes a long way in maintaining blood sugar levels, a healthy body weight, reducing diabetes complications and keeping high blood pressure in check. Eating in moderation, exercising as well as following your doctor’s prescription will lead to a more energetic and healthier life.