Diabetes is a highly prevalent chronic illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a major cause of premature death among adults due to its complications. Diabetes is a chronic condition that needs lifestyle modification along with medication. Eating healthy foods is a good way to support your body in managing the condition and helps to avoid complications like organ damage. Mostly, diabetic complications are preventable if the disease is well-controlled and regularly eating fresh food is an essential lifestyle change for good blood sugar control. Your food intake can greatly influence your blood sugar level both negatively and positively depending on what it is you’re eating, so making clever food choices can help you manage your diabetes .
Let’s have a look at what foods are beneficial for people with diabetes.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, are a very healthy choice for people with diabetes for multiple reasons. Firstly, they are low in carbohydrates, so they do not spike blood sugar levels. The change in blood glucose is minimal. Secondly, they are rich in fiber and regulate your digestive system.
Also, these vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants present in them prevent oxidative stress and the damage caused by it .
Fats are a macronutrient, and your body needs a good amount of fat every day to run the systems. However, diabetics often fear taking fats as type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and overweight.
Mind that fats are essential, and taking good fats with your food is healthy for diabetics. Some good fats are:
- olive oil
- avocado oil
- walnut oil
- flaxseed oil
- coconut oil
- chia seeds
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), these good fats also help prevent diabetes and other diseases as they contain Omega-6 .
Diabetics are advised to limit their fruit intake because foods contain fructose, a sugar that can spike blood glucose levels. But berries are a good choice for people with diabetes because of their low fructose content. Diabetics can enjoy a range of delicious fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, as long as it’s in moderation.
Not only will it fulfill your fruit cravings, but also does it provide many nutrients.
Berries are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C. They help fight oxidative stress and stop any further damage that can worsen your diabetes. Berries are rich in minerals, such as manganese and potassium . Berries versatile and can be added to salads, tossed into breakfast cereal, or even just eaten as an anytime snack.
While milk is a good source of calcium, it is rich in carbohydrates. There is a fair chance of a blood sugar spike after taking milk. However, Greek-style yogurt can be a perfect food choice for diabetes.
It is low in carbohydrates and rich in calcium. Also, Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, so it helps boost your immunity . It is rich in proteins, iodine, and vitamins, too . You can reap all the benefits of milk while preventing a blood sugar increase.
Nuts are a rich source of good fats and other nutrients. They help prevent diabetic complications, such as heart disease or stroke. Some of the diabetes-friendly nuts include walnuts, pecan nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
These nuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Other nutrients that you can receive from nuts include proteins, vitamins, iron, and some other minerals . A handful of nuts every day can be a good source of energy and nutrition and beneficial in stopping the complications of diabetes. You can add those nuts to your breakfast cereal with a splash of Greek yoghurt and your day will be off to a great start!
Grains are full of carbohydrates and pose a greater risk of raising blood glucose levels. Therefore, choosing your grains wisely is vital in managing diabetes.
Always prefer whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients. They are less likely to cause a blood sugar spike . Some of your whole-grain options include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta.
Fish is rich in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating fatty fish in your diet can significantly improve your health as it lowers the level of harmful lipids in your blood. This eventually prevents various diseases like heart disease and stroke . Good fats are seen to improve the control of blood sugar levels. Some of your fatty fish options include trout, salmon, sardines, and tuna.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the delicious choices and are not sure how to fit them into your daily diet or whether you are consuming enough, ADA This organization also has a great healthy eating method called “The 9-inch Plate” here’s how they explain it
“First, grab a 9-inch plate. You want to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter of the plate of protein foods, and the last quarter of the plate with carbohydrate foods. Top it off with a glass of water or another zero-calorie drink and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced plate! This helps take the guesswork out of meal planning so you can spend more time doing the things you love.”
You can find out more about their Diabetes Plate Method which shows you how to manage blood sugars while eating healthily.
Know what foods to avoid
If you’re making healthier eating choices as a diabetic, it’s also a good idea to know what to avoid. If you’re going to go easy on carbs, you may find that you feel hungrier than you usually do and you may want to fill up with bigger red meats like lamb and beef. While these are okay in moderation, high amounts of these have been linked to heart problems and some cancers, especially avoid processed meats, like these
Also, be smart with the types of snacks you have throughout the day. Swap high salt chips and sugary biscuits for dried fruit and nuts.
And finally, a healthy diet is most effective when paired with some exercise. If you’re not a big exercise fan, then make it a fun activity by doing some brisk walking through a different neighbourhood or meeting up with a friend for an exercise class. It doesn’t have to be high impact, it just has to be something that gives your body and mind the motivation it needs to stay in control of your diabetes and in turn your life, so that it doesn’t control you.