The Diabetic Diet: Is It Right For You?

by Michelle on May 15, 2018

With Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes becoming such an epidemic is taking control now and following a Diabetic Diet right for you?

An estimated 23.1 million people in the United States have currently been diagnosed with diabetes and the Center for Disease Control estimates that another 7.2 million have undiagnosed diabetes, while another 84.1 million adults have pre-diabetes.  Sound like an epidemic? Well, many healthcare professionals believe it is and if not controlled much better the statistics are only going to get worse. So, what do you do to avoid becoming one of these statistics? Try eating like you have diabetes and enjoy the benefits of what this healthy association with food brings you.

I have had diabetes for a couple of decades and my doctors believe that I actually was suffering from it long before being diagnosed.  I found out when pregnant with my first child I’m now insulin dependent as things have progressively become worse with my pancreas not producing hardly any insulin.  So…this means that I MUST eat a diabetic diet in order to stay healthy…but when you examine what a diabetic diet is you can see how it’s beneficial for everyone…diabetic or not.

 

In a nutshell, eating like a diabetic means that you’re having low-carb selections, plenty of protein, minimal healthy fats, and of course…avoiding sugar!  Well, believe it or not, this is easier said than done since nature provides plenty of “sweet” options that are healthy yet high in sugar. Many people think “avoid sugar” means to not put “the white stuff” in food and drinks, avoid regular soda, etc…but it also means avoid “natural sugar” as well.  Items like mangos, bananas, pineapple, cherries, grapes, and especially ANY dried fruits (drying concentrates the natural sugars in the fruit) are all naturally high in sugar and should be eaten VERY sparingly or not at all. Items that are high carbs and starches (wheat, rice, winter squashes, parsnips, potatoes, corn, etc.) also need to be greatly minimized in the diet or omitted altogether.  

It’s not always easy to know what to eat and what not to eat and there are literally thousands of diabetic diets, food lists, etc. out there that sometimes only add to the confusion.  The best way to look at “eating like a diabetic” is to help your body stay healthy and NOT cause yourself issues by incorporating some of the basic principles of a diabetic diet that are the easiest to follow:

  1. Avoid “the white stuff”…this means white flour, white rice, white root vegetables, and of course…sugar!
  2. Cut out sugary drinks…juices, sodas, energy drinks, coffee concoctions, and even those smoothies that do contain some healthy ingredients but usually a whole lot of sugar.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners…these are actually many times sweeter than real sugar and make your brain and body crave more sweetness…making cutting back exceptionally difficult.
  4. Eat items as they appear in nature…avoid packaged foods as much as possible as well as eating out too much.  Many times sugar and/or fats are used for better flavor (not to mention too much salt) and can cause multiple problems with keeping to a proper diet.
  5. Still, watch your calories…even if you’re eating healthy and like a diabetic you still need to watch how many calories you’re consuming as being overweight contributes to increased risk for diabetes.

Here are some specific food items in a “lowest to highest” layout that might help you better understand what I mean and give you a good head start to making changes:

Low Carb Vegetables

This list is roughly arranged from lowest to highest carbohydrate counts, but all are non-starchy and generally low in carbohydrates:

  •  Sprouts (bean, alfalfa, etc.)
  •  Greens – lettuces, spinach, chard, etc.
  •  Hearty Greens – collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.
  •  Radicchio and endive count as greens
  •  Herbs – parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  •  Bok Choy
  •  Bamboo Shoots
  •  Celery
  •  Radishes
  •  Sea Vegetables (Nori, etc)
  •  Mushrooms
  •  Cabbage (or sauerkraut)
  •  Jicama
  •  Avocado
  •  Asparagus
  •  Okra
  •  Cucumber (or pickles without added sugars)
  •  Green Beans and Wax Beans
  •  Fennel
  • Cauliflower
  •  Broccoli
  •  Peppers (all kinds)
  • Summer Squash (including zucchini)
  •  Brussels Sprouts
  •  Scallions or green onions
  •  Snow Peas/Snap Peas/Pea Pods
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Eggplant
  •  Tomatillos
  •  Artichokes
  •  Turnips
  •  Pumpkin
  •  Rutabagas
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Celery Root (Celeriac)
  • Carrots (use with caution)
  •  Onions
  •  Leeks
  • Water Chestnuts

 

  • Starchy (High Carb) Vegetables,  The main veggies to be avoided when reducing carbohydrates are the starchier vegetables:
  •  Beets
  •  Peas
  •  Winter Squashes (particularly acorn and butternut)
  •  Parsnips
  •  Potatoes (all forms)
  •  Corn
  • Plantains

Choose Low Sugar Fruit
Fruit is an area where some of the low carbs diet part company.  These are sort of arranged by sugar content, taking volume and weight into account. This is not an exhaustive list.  Good news: the fruits lowest in sugar are some of the highest in nutritional value, including antioxidants and other phytonutrients.

Fruits lowest in sugar

  •  Lemon & Lime
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • BlackberrieS
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Casaba Melon
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Apples
  • Guava
  • Apricots
  • Grapefruit

Fruits fairly high in sugar

  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Fruits very high in sugar

  • Tangerines
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates
  • Mangos
  • Figs
  • Banana
  • Dried Fruit (dates, raisins, prunes, etc.)

It’s definitely NOT easy to always be so mindful of what you’re eating, how you’re eating, and when you’re eating…but it’s a whole lot easier to do it out of a desire to be more mindful and healthy than it is out of necessity due to a disease.  Even little changes can make a difference and the more you do it the easier it becomes…really!

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