If you have diabetes, you have an extra reason to watch your diet. The foods you eat directly impact your blood sugar levels, and too much of the wrong thing can have an adverse effect. If you are new to your diagnosis, you may have many questions. What foods should you eat, and which ones should you enjoy? Do you still need to count calories? What are some delicious recipes that you can whip together to enjoy delightful flavors while benefiting your health?
Foods to Avoid When You Have Diabetes
As vital as it is to eat the right foods, you first need to know what to avoid. There are three primary macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates and fat. Of the three, you need to manage your carbohydrate consumption the most by avoiding the following foods:
- Sugary sodas: These lead to an instant blood sugar spike. While you might feel an immediate surge of energy, you will suffer a debilitating crash, and you may need insulin to adjust your levels.
- White bread, pasta and rice: A single high-carb bagel can raise blood sugar and decrease brain function in people with Type 2 diabetes. Processing strips these grains of their fiber, which slows the entry of glucose into the body.
- Prepackaged snack foods: Foods like pretzels and chips have a hefty carb load per serving. A single serving of pretzels contains 22 grams of carbohydrates, and they are likely highly processed, which results in a significant blood sugar spike.
- Fruit juice and dried fruits: While you can enjoy fresh fruit in moderation, as the fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar, fruit juices and dried fruits contain concentrated amounts of the sweet stuff that can lead to unhealthy spikes.
Healthy Low-Carb Swaps for Managing Diabetes
You might think, “This diet sounds too restrictive,” and if you consume typical American meals, it can feel that way. However, you can still enjoy many of your favorite dishes. You merely need to learn to make healthy substitutions for high-carb items on the menu.
- Cauliflower rice: You can rice cauliflower with ease when you use a food processor. It tastes nearly identical to the high-carb version but contains significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates and calories. You can also season it the way you would grain.
- Vegetable noodles: Veggies like zucchini and butternut squash make outstanding noodles. The tiny bit of crunch adds an al dente feel without the refined white flour gumming up your teeth — or your intestines.
- Use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas: A single large leaf of iceberg lettuce can support fillings like chicken and more.
Calculating Your Overall Caloric Needs
Many patients with diabetes also want to manage their weight. Calories do count, even when you eat healthy foods. To calculate your individual needs, you need first to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), then multiply that figure by the activity factor that fits your lifestyle. Once you know your BMR, you can estimate the number of calories you should consume each day.
Suggested Recipes for the Diabetes Diet
To get started on your healthier lifestyle, you need delicious recipes. Give these a try the next time you go into your kitchen.
This dish is simple to prepare with only four ingredients. Jicama contains tons of filling fiber and acts as an excellent prebiotic.
This recipe makes an excellent start to a meal. However, because it contains eggs for filling protein, you can also eat it by itself for a light lunch.
Why, yes, you can still enjoy this breakfast favorite — if you use gluten-free flour. Garbanzo bean flour is packed with fiber and protein, or you could opt for an ancient grain, like quinoa.
These are the ideal grab-and-go breakfast for hectic mornings. However, they taste amazing at any time of the day (or night).
These colorful and nutrient-packed delights look almost too pretty to eat. Your entire family will enjoy digging in, and they will never miss the extra carbs.
You can enjoy a hearty dinner without causing your blood sugar to spike. You can pair this with a low-carb caesar salad with gluten-free croutons for a complete meal.
Are you in the mood for a south-of-the-border treat? If so, dig into this delicious recipe that you can spice up as much as you like. Use the most colorful peppers you can find for extra phytonutrients, like lycopene for eye and nerve health.
Who said that you had to give up dessert when you have diabetes? Using a sugar-free chocolate cake and chocolate pudding lets you create this delicious, yet low-carb dessert for holidays or a sweet ending to family dinner.
Manage Your Diabetes More Effectively Through Diet
If you recently received a diagnosis of diabetes, you may have many questions about managing your disease. Taking control of your diet is a crucial component of keeping your blood sugar stable.