What to Eat if You Have Diabetes
You have probably heard a lot about the restrictions of a diabetic diet. Whether it’s that you can never give in to your sweet tooth or that you have to prepare a special meal that is different from what your family is eating, it can seem like having diabetes means the end of good eating. That is not the case. In fact, everyone should eat a healthful diet so there is no need for you eat differently than the rest of your family.
Are there magic foods that will leave you feeling full without spiking your blood glucose? Yes, there are! The American Diabetes Association lists these 10 superfoods that have a low glycemic index (has less of an impact on your blood glucose) and provides important nutrients. When you're planning meals with your family, make sure to fill up on these superfoods:
- Beans provide about one-third of the fiber you need each day in just a ½ cup. They are also a good source of magnesium and potassium. Some examples are kidney, pinto, navy, and black beans. Dried beans are also an economic way to stock your pantry. Beware of canned beans, as they can add unwanted sodium to your diet.
- Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, are low in calories and carbohydrates, so do not be afraid to pile your plate!
- Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, provide fiber and vitamin C.
- Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and are packed with vitamin A.
- Berries, whether strawberries, blueberries, or another variety, are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. A parfait made with berries and low-fat yogurt can satisfy your desire for something sweet.
- Tomatoes can be eaten raw, added to soups and stews, or made into pasta sauce. However you eat them, you will be getting an extra dose of iron, vitamin C, and vitamin E in your diet.
- Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, is a great choice. Aim for 6-9 ounces of broiled or baked fish each week—breaded or fried fish does not count!
- Whole grains are a great alternative to processed grains like white bread or rice. Whole grains contain nutrients like magnesium, chromium, and folate, just to name a few. Whole grain versions of more popular foods, such as boxed cereal and pasta, are more available than ever and easier to find.
- Nuts provide healthy fat and keep you feeling full longer. The also contain fiber. Be careful though, since there can be a lot of calories in a small amount.
- Fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D, as well.
As you can see from this list of superfoods, many healthy options fit into a diabetic diet. For an even healthier diet, remember these tips:
- If eating meat, choose lean meats and remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
- Choose fat-free dairy, like skim milk and fat-free yogurt.
- Choose water or calorie-free drinks instead of soda, sweet tea, or other sugary drinks.
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.