Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, the range of foods you’re allowed to eat becomes limited. To help you take the guesswork out of your daily meal planning, we’re sharing with you the best foods for diabetics.
Diabetes is one of the major health crises Australians are facing today, with almost 1.7 million afflicted by the disease. Experts expect this number to double within the next decade and predict that around 280 Australians will develop diabetes daily.
Also known as diabetes mellitus, diabetes is a condition where your body cannot properly regulate the amount of glucose in your blood. This may be because of inadequate production of insulin—the hormone responsible for converting glucose to energy—as in type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your body develops a resistance to insulin and the subsequent decrease in its production.
Suitable Food Choices for Diabetics
The diabetic’s diet should include plenty of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, unsaturated fat, soluble fibre and low-fat dairy products. People with diabetes also need to avoid processed foods and foods high in saturated fat and sugar additives.
Carbohydrates have always been viewed as harmful for diabetics as they increase blood sugar levels, but there are certain carbs that are actually beneficial. If you’re a diabetic, avoid simple sugars and stock up on complex carbohydrates instead.
Simple sugars—often found in “white foods” like flour, sugar, pasta, white bread, cookies, pastries and white potatoes—lack the nutrients that delay the absorption of glucose in the blood. They contribute to the rapid increase of your blood sugar level so it’s best to do away with them.
Complex carbohydrates—such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, barley, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils—are rich in nutrients that help slow down the assimilation of glucose into your bloodstream. They are ideal for diabetics because they help stabilise blood sugar levels.
2. Plant-Based Protein
Protein helps keep your blood sugar balanced. High-protein plant sources include beans, lentils, nuts, peas, seeds and soy. Diabetics can also safely consume animal-derived sources of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seafood and yoghurt a few times a week. Stay away from red meats, non-organic milk, cheese and other dairy products high in fat as they can aggravate inflammation and increase your risk for cardiovascular conditions.
3. Unsaturated Fats
While fats have a minimal effect on your blood sugar, they also delay the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, just like protein. Between saturated and unsaturated fats, however, foods rich in unsaturated fats such as olives, salmon and tuna are the healthier choice. It will also be better for diabetics to stock up on plant-derived foods high in unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
4. Soluble Fibre
Foods high in soluble fibre can help regulate your blood glucose levels and control your weight gain. Soluble fibre can be found in breakfast cereals, oats, high-fibre bread, legumes, fruits like apples, citrus and strawberries and vegetables.
Among the various types of vegetables, the green, leafy, and non-starchy ones are the most ideal for diabetics. They can be eaten abundantly and have minimal impact on your blood sugar.
Conversely, starchy vegetables including corn, squash, potatoes and other root crops—although rich in vitamin C and other nutrients—contain more carbohydrates than green vegetables and should be eaten by diabetics in small portions.
5. Low-Fat Dairy
It is best for diabetics to consume dairy products that have reduced fat. These foods are safe for diabetics because they have a low glycaemic index. According to research, adding low-fat dairy foods to your diet might even lessen your risks for this disease.
Healthy Eating and Living
Managing your diabetes requires an integrated approach involving healthy eating habits, weight management and regular physical activity. Working with a diabetes specialist or dietitian can also help you determine your ideal blood glucose level and guide you through your treatment.
Now that we’ve shared with you the best foods for diabetics, it’s time to head to the kitchen and start whipping some diabetic-friendly meals!
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Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, check out our Diet and Nutrition services.