If someone has diabetes, she/he knows how important our food choices are. Even though there’s no food we should stop using it completely, there are some things we should avoid more than others.
Also, we may think we mustn’t eat something when in reality it’s ok to have it occasionally and in tiny amounts.
Nevertheless, it’d be more helpful to manage diabetes if we stick to the healthiest options. For that purpose, we give you the best and worst choices from several major food groups to use as a guide.
The human body needs carbohydrates to function properly. But, we should know the right sources for diabetes to prevent our blood sugar levels from spiking.
- Baked sweet potato
- Whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet
- Things produced from whole grains and no (or tiny amounts) added sugar
- Cereals with tiny amounts of whole grains and plenty of sugar
- Processed grains like white flour or white rice
- French fries
- White bread
- Fried white-flour tortillas
Feel free to include plenty of vegetables in our regular diet. They are high in fiber but low in salt or fat. Don’t forget that corn and potatoes are considered carbs.
- Plain frozen veggies, lightly steamed
- Raw or lightly steamed, grilled, or roasted vegetables
- Unsalted or low sodium canned veggies
- Green vegetables like spinach, kale, and arugula. Have in mind that Iceberg lettuce is low in nutrients so maybe it shouldn’t be our first choice.
Eat vegetables from all colors: red or orange (like red peppers or carrots), dark greens, purple ones (eggplants), or even white (like onions.) According to the 2015 U.S. guidelines, we should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables daily.
- Vegetables cooked with plenty of added sauce, butter, or cheese
- Canned vegetables high in sodium
- For those who need to limit sodium, pickles are a bad option
- Diabetics with high blood pressure should avoid sauerkraut
We get vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber from fruits. Even though most of them are naturally low in sodium and fat, they usually contain more carbohydrates than vegetables.
- Fresh organic fruit
- Low-sugar or sugar-free jam or preserves
- Plain frozen fruit or canned fruit with no-sugar-added
- Applesauce without added sugar
- Chewy fruit rolls
- Canned fruit which includes heavy sugar syrup
- Ordinary jam, preserves, and jelly (unless it’s a tiny portion)
- Fruit punch, fruit juice drinks
- Applesauce with added sugar
There are many choices of protein out there: chicken, beef, fish, turkey, pork, beans, seafood, eggs, cheese, tofu, nuts, etc.
Here are the best options for proteins according to the American Diabetes Association:
- Seafood or fish
- Plant-based proteins like seeds, nuts, beans, or tofu
- Low-fat dairy and eggs
- Chicken and other poultry (preferably breast meat)
If we choose meat, make sure it’s low in fat. Also, don’t forget to remove the poultry skin.
Even if we’re not a fan of vegetables, try to include some of these plant sources of protein as they contain fiber and nutrients that are not part of animal products.
- Ribs and other high-fat cuts of meat
- Fried meats
- Regular cheeses
- Pork bacon
- Deep-fried fish
- Poultry with skin
- Beans prepared with lard
- Deep-fried tofu
When it comes to the diary, make sure it’s low in fat and in small portions.
- Low-fat yogurt
- Skim or 1% milk
- Nonfat or low-fat sour cream
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Regular yogurt
- Whole milk
- Regular sour cream
- Regular cottage cheese
- Regular half-and-half
- Regular ice cream
Oils, Fats, and Sweets
We know it’s hard to resist, but try to limit them to prevent gaining more weight or becoming obese. Excess weight or obesity impedes diabetes management.
- Omega-3 fatty acid-high foods like tuna, salmon, or mackerel
- Small portions of natural sources of vegetable fats, like seeds, nuts, or avocados
- Plant-based oils like grapeseed, canola, or olive oil
Products with labels that say “partially hydrogenated” as they contain artificial trans-fat which is bad for the heart. We should stay away from any products with artificial trans fat in their content.
Large portions of saturated fats, especially from animal products or even palm and coconut oil. In case of diabetes and/or heart disease, consult your doctor to determine the limit of these products.
It’s important to read the labels before buying any beverage. Most drinks on the market are packed with sugar, calories, salt, or fat, and we surely don’t want all that in our system.
- Regular water, and unflavored or flavored sparkling water
- Small amounts of wine, light beer, or non-fruity mixed beverages
- Unsweetened tea (with some lemon to taste)
- Black coffee, or with added sugar substitute and low-fat milk
- Dessert wines, fruity mixed drinks, regular beer
- Regular sodas
- Sweetened tea
- Chocolate drinks and flavored coffees
- Coffee with cream and sugar
- Energy drinks
We hope you will use this list as a guide!