If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, your doctor may have told you about your diet. Although there is no single “diabetic diet”, making certain changes to the way you eat can help lower your blood sugar, lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels – which may help reduce your risk of future heart disease.
So if there’s no specific diabetes meal plan to follow, how do you know what (and how much) to eat to reach your goals?
The best advice is to work with your doctor, dietitian, or diabetes educator to create a diet just for you. However, if you’re ready to start making positive changes to your diet today, endocrinologist Clifton Davis, MD, offers the following advice.
Top 5 healthy diet tips for diabetics
- Replace sugary drinks (like soda or juice) with water.
- Avoid snacking between meals and before bedtime.
- Increase your intake of fruits, whole grains, beans, low-fat dairy products, and non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli.
- Pay attention to carbs when making food choices by reading food labels and using online carb calculators.
- Limit processed or refined foods like pasta, white bread, white rice, and cereals.
Fruits, sodas and other delicate foods
You may be wondering if it is okay to eat foods that contain natural sugars, such as bananas or strawberries, if you are a person with diabetes. “Some fruits are higher in sugar than others,” says Dr. Davis. “The key is knowing the appropriate serving size for the type of fruit you’re eating.”
For example, one serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, which equals:
- 1 small apple
- 1/2 banana
- 15 grapes
- 1 cup strawberries
When it comes to beverages, water is the best substitute for regular sodas and other sugary drinks. Although diet soda is a low-calorie, low-carb alternative to regular soda, it should still be consumed in moderation.
“If you have to get your caffeine fix, black coffee generally has less of an impact on blood sugar, but it may affect people differently,” says Dr. Davis. “You should also avoid adding dairy products and sweeteners as these can affect your blood sugar levels.”
Finally, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, make sure you are eating enough protein. Dr. Davis also recommends not eating too many simple carbs like potatoes, pasta, and white rice. This will help you control your blood sugar on a vegetarian diet.
Are low carb diets good for diabetics?
Although low-carb and keto diets are popular right now, Dr. Davis recommends working with your doctor, as well as a registered dietitian or diabetes educator, to create an individualized diet plan if you have diabetes. type 2. “Also, very low-carb diets are not recommended if you have kidney disease, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding,” he adds.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a low-carb diet may provide some benefits for people with diabetes. However, you should work closely with your doctor and a dietitian nutritionist to help minimize risks like low blood sugar.
In general, anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes should consult a health care provider before drastically reducing their carbohydrate intake. “You may need to reduce or stop taking certain medications to prevent hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia,” says Dr. Davis. “Your doctor can help you coordinate changes in your diet with any diabetes medications you’re taking.”
Which meal plans are best for people with diabetes?
If you are looking for a diabetic meal plan, the American Diabetes Association website is a useful source of information about diabetes and its associated complications. It also offers detailed nutrition and diet plans such as the Diabetes Plate Method with recipes and meal ideas to help you achieve your balanced eating goals.
The Diabetes Plate Method offers easy-to-follow nutritional guidelines, rather than a strict meal plan to follow. A more detailed explanation of the plan is provided on the ADA website, but the basic steps are as follows:
- Start by filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, or cauliflower.
- Fill a quarter of your plate with lean proteins like fish and chicken.
- The last quarter of your plate can be filled with carbohydrate-rich foods, such as oatmeal, potatoes, beans, and dairy products.
While the ADA’s website is a great resource for diabetic meal planning, Dr. Davis also recommends working with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator. “Both are great resources for meal planning and ongoing education when it comes to a more personalized diet or lifestyle,” he explains.
The key to a healthy diet for diabetics
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a healthy diabetic diet, the best place to start is to establish healthy eating habits that focus on eating a variety of nutritious foods at the appropriate portion size.
“Finding a balanced meal plan that you can stick to is key to achieving long-term results,” says Dr. Davis. “Making long-term lifestyle changes is usually more effective because a drastic change in diet can be difficult to sustain. Ultimately, maintaining a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet suitable for everyone, whether you have diabetes or not.”
Would you like help designing a personalized diabetes diet?
We are here to help. Call 800.922.0000 to start. We offer comprehensive diabetes education services, including teaching you how to best modify your diet to meet your unique health needs.