If you have diabetes, your diet is one way that you can keep yourself healthy, along with seeing a doctor regularly for checkups, exercising and, in some cases, taking medication. Learning what to eat is one of the most difficult things about being diagnosed with diabetes, but it is important to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Unregulated blood glucose can cause health problems such as nerve pain, poor circulation and kidney damage. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, talking to your doctor or a specialist dietician about customized meal planning for you can be an incredibly helpful resource.
It is a common misconception that a person with diabetes has to cut out all sweets and carbohydrates from their diet 100%. This is not true. Sweets can be eaten in small quantities as a treat. If you are going to be eating sweets, it is best to do it after a meal rather than with an empty stomach, because your blood sugar will not spike as much.
Carbohydrates can still be eaten, but high-fiber products with a lower glycemic index make it much easier to control your blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index get turned into glucose much faster in your body, leading to blood sugar spikes. For example, eating brown rice instead of white rice and whole-wheat bread instead of white bread allows for the carbohydrates to be digested slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes. There are whole-grain versions of many different products, including pasta, which can be part of a healthy diet.
Healthy foods that can be eaten at most meals include lean protein, such as chicken and beans, vegetables and fruits, except fruits in heavy syrup. Foods that contain polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and avocados, are a healthy source of fat that can be included in your meals.
Alcoholic beverages should be limited if you have diabetes. Most alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar, but no nutrition. Also, alcohol can actually lower your blood sugar to a dangerous level.
Having diabetes does not mean that you are limited in the variety of foods that you can eat, it just means that you have to be extra conscious about having a balanced diet and limiting the amount of unhealthy foods you eat. For more information, talk to your doctor and check out the references below for some resources on diabetes and nutrition.