Diabetes: Eat This, Avoid That

Diabetes is a condition that can be managed with good lifestyle choices. Depending on the type of diabetes, the doctor may recommend oral prescriptions or insulin to help manage the symptoms and complications associated with the condition. Additionally, keeping a tab on the foods that one eats and dedicating more time to exercising makes a significant difference in managing diabetes. This article highlights foods that help manage diabetes and foods that may aggravate the condition.

Foods to eat Oatmeal, barley, quinoa, brown rice, millet

Whole grains are the best choice of foods for people with diabetes. These can be easily replaced with white rice and white flour. One may try different recipes using whole grains as staple ingredients and have a well-balanced food regime.

Kale, spinach, celery, collards, bok choy

Green leafy vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. Additionally, they are a great source of natural fiber and protein. They also help regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. There are many ways to include these foods into your daily regime; juice them first thing in the morning, steam them, or eat them raw. While vegetables are a great source of nutrition and vitamins, remember to avoid those available in cans or premixed with sodium. Also, avoid adding too much salt, butter, cheese, or sauce to vegetables as that can defeat the purpose of having them entirely.

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts

Fatty fish contain healthy fats that our bodies require to function at their best and help keep heart problems at bay. A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish contain eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids that are important for good health. However, avoid fried fish, and instead choose to bake, steam or roast it. Intake of healthy fats improves blood sugar control and blood lipids in diabetics. Vegetarians may consider having seaweed, almonds, flaxseeds, and walnuts as an alternative source of fatty acids. Steer clear of excessive butter or oil, and preferably choose olive oil for preparation.

Oranges, grapes, lemons, berries, grapefruit

While fruits are always a good addition to one’s food regime, citrus fruits especially are beneficial for people with diabetes. They contain minerals and vitamins, without any unwanted carbs. Additionally, citrus fruits contain antioxidants like hesperidin and naringin that are responsible for anti-diabetic effects.
The best way to consume fruits is to eat them as is or to include them in a smoothie. Avoid juicing the fruits as they lack fiber and are only high in fructose, which converts into sugar and spikes the blood sugar levels.

Sweet potatoes

These make a great substitute for potatoes. Besides fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium content, sweet potatoes release sugar slower than regular potatoes, making theman ideal choice for diabetics. The rich fiber content present in this root vegetable also keeps one feeling full for longer. However, instead of shallow frying or baking with butter or in oil, steam sweet potatoes as it is one vegetable that we can have with no added salt. It can be had as is, alongside breakfast or a meal.

Probiotic yogurt

The live bacteria in yogurt help enhance digestion and overall gut health. Probiotic yogurt also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, and increases insulin sensitivity. Yogurt can be had with nuts, fresh berries, or any fruit of one’s choice. However, yogurt with added sugar must be avoided as it will instantly spike blood sugar levels.

Chia seeds

They are a rich source of natural protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids that are all beneficial for overall health. But chia seeds are especially recommended for people with type-2 diabetes as it helps manage the condition. One can add chia seeds to salads and puddings or use them in baking. Chia seeds must be consumed in moderation as they can drastically lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and this could interact with one’s daily dose of treatment.

Foods to avoid Muffins, margarine, frozen dinners

Trans fats are added to packaged foods generously as they help improve their shelf life. They are found in muffins, cookies, peanut butter, margarine, frozen dinners, creamers, and spreads. Although trans fats do not directly impact blood sugar levels, they do interfere with insulin resistance and increase inflammation and belly fat. Trans fats also increase bad cholesterol and may contribute to the impaired arterial function.

White bread, rice, and pasta

Produce made with white flour must be avoided with diabetes as it may increase blood sugar levels. Refined white flour foods also impact brain function in people with diabetes. So, it is best to avoid white bread, french fries, cereals with added sugar, and fried white flour tortillas.

Chips, crackers, cookies

Packaged foods like chips, crackers, cookies, and pretzels are all made of refined white flour and contain high amounts of carbs, sodium, and preservatives, which must be avoided for diabetics.

Sweetened breakfast cereal

While cereal is a convenient option and was also thought to be healthy for all this time, it contains high levels of sugar. Therefore, it must be avoided in one’s food regime.

Fruit-flavored yogurt

This dessert is loaded with carbs and refined sugar, and therefore, must be avoided by diabetics.

Honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar

Any form of sugar can spike blood sugar levels, including brown sugar and other natural forms of sugars. They also contain carbs, and thus, are best to be avoided.

Dried fruits

Fruits that are dried become more concentrated in nutrients and vitamins, and they are also high in sugar content. Moreover, sugar is used as a preservative to extend the shelf life of dried forms of fruits like kiwi and apricot, among others.

Sweetened sodas and drinks

Sweetened sodas are high in not only sugar content but also carbs. And sugar and carbs both must be avoided by diabetics.