How to Eat Healthily As a Diabetic

Getting diagnosed with diabetes may be unsettling, but it isn’t the end of the world. Learn how you can fix your diet if you have diabetes.
How to Eat Healthily As a Diabetic
How to Eat Healthily As a Diabetic

Getting diagnosed with diabetes may be unsettling, but it isn’t the end of the world. Learn how you can fix your diet if you have diabetes.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

How to Eat Healthily As a Diabetic

Every individual with diabetes has their unique case, each having their own ways of coping with it. No two people will respond to diabetes in the same way, so it’s not possible to come up with diet plans that will benefit everyone equally.

There are, however, a few tips that you can follow which will allow you to keep your cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. These tips will also help you to reduce the various complications that might occur such as strokes, different types of cancer, and heart problems.

Following these tips will help you if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or any of the other types such as MODY, gestational, or cystic fibrosis-related diabetes. But above all, you must consult your dietician before choosing any diet regimen.


Why it is Important For You to Eat Right

The most important factor to manage with diabetes is your blood sugar and this is most affected by what you eat.

A good way to keep blood sugar levels steady if you have diabetes is by carb counting. Carb counting involves measuring how much insulin you need and matching it with how much carbs are in your food. If you are overweight while having Type 2 diabetes then you need to focus on losing weight, as it directly impacts your management of diabetes.

Losing weight lowers your blood sugar which helps you to reduce the risk of health complications. This can be achieved by following several low-carb or low-calorie diets. You can effectively lower your blood sugar levels by losing weight, and for some people who can achieve substantial weight loss, type 2 diabetes was even put to remission.

The main focus is that you need to ensure that you choose foods that are healthy throughout your journey of losing weight. It is important to focus on portion size when you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

By doing this, you can calculate the nutritional facts a lot more easily, especially when you are targeting to lose weight. Also, remember that portion sizes will vary from person to person, So don't copy someone else's routine in the hopes of getting the same outcomes.

Following are a few tips to help you make wise and healthy food choices.

Minimize Salt Intake

The risk of high blood pressure increases if you consume too much salt, ultimately increasing the chances of stroke and heart disease. You need to be extra cautious of these issues if you are a diabetic. It is best to keep your salt intake at one teaspoon a day or less.

You also need to be wary of the pre-packed foods that already contain salt, so try to pick the ones that have less salt by checking the labels. One other way to check your salt intake is to do home cooking. If you want to swap out salt completely, you can try various spices and herbs to bring in the added flavor.

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Add More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are ideal choices for mealtimes and even for snacks when you feel hungry. Your body needs minerals, vitamins, and fibers to keep you healthy daily, you can easily get them from fruits and vegetables.

Many people have concerns that fruits are too sugary and hence should be avoided. The fact is that even if you do have diabetes, whole fruits are still good for you.

The sugar in fruits is natural and it is not the same as added sugar found in biscuits, chocolates, and cakes - which should be avoided as much as possible.

You should also avoid products like fruit juices as they have a lot of added sugar. So, you can consume your choice of fruit frozen, fresh, dried, or tinned (I think it’s best if it’s in juice form!). Also, you might want to have it throughout the day, rather than having a big portion of it in one go.

When you have diabetes, remaining healthy requires you to eat well, exercise regularly, take your medications, and monitor your blood glucose levels. A variety of products can help you perform those things more easily. You can find essential diabetes care and health-related products on

Avoid Added Sugar

You know that you need to cut out on excess sugar, but the fact is that it can be really hard during the initial days. You can try small swaps, like cutting out energy drinks, sugary drinks, and fruit juices with plain milk, water, or tea or coffee without sugar.

Another option that you can choose to cut back could be zero-calorie sweeteners. By eliminating excess sugar from your diet, you may easily regulate your weight and keep your blood sugar levels under control.

If you are prone to hypos, however, completely eliminating sugary drinks may not be the best solution. But you should consult with a healthcare professional if you’re regularly getting hypos.

Consume Alcohol in Moderation

If you are looking to achieve weight loss, you should think of cutting back on any alcohol consumption, as alcohol contains a lot of calories. It would be ideal if you can keep it to a maximum of 14 units a week.

You need to avoid binge drinking, and, if possible, try to go several days without consuming alcohol. If you take medication such as insulin, you might want to avoid drinking on an empty stomach as alcohol is known to trigger hypos.

Try to Avoid Supplements

You may have been led to believe that taking vitamin and mineral supplements may help you to manage your diabetes better, but there is no actual evidence to support this claim.

So unless your healthcare professional has prescribed you to take certain supplements, such as folic acid for when you are pregnant, you really don’t need to take supplements of any form.

The best way to consume your regular requirement of nutrients is by eating a good variety of foods. This is especially important to follow since certain supplements may have an adverse effect on our medication or actually worsen a complication, such as a kidney disease.

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Choose the Right Carbs

It’s no secret that practically all carbohydrates affect your blood glucose levels, so in order for you to effectively manage your diabetes, you need to know the number of carbs contained in your food. While choosing, you need to go for foods that are healthier while also being wary of your portion size.

Some healthy sources of carbohydrates include:

● Vegetables

● Whole oats and buckwheat

● Milk and unsweetened yogurt

● Whole grains (such as brown rice)

● Lentils, beans, and chickpeas

You should also reduce the intake of foods that are low in fiber such as white rice, white bread, and cereals that are highly processed. In case you are unsure, you can check the food labels to know which foods are high in fiber.

Reduce Red and Processed Meat Intake

Sometimes people take meat in bigger portions to fill themselves up, as they are cutting back on carbs. But it’s better not to make this compensation with processed and red meat such as bacon, beef, sausages, ham, and lamb, as they are all linked with different cancers and heart diseases.

You can try to replace red and processed meat with the following healthier choices:

● Poultry, such as turkey, chicken

● Eggs

● Pulses such as lentils and beans

Going for peas, beans, and lentils is a wise choice as they don’t affect your blood glucose levels and are a rich source of fiber. Hence you can replace your red and processed meat while feeling full too.

You can also try oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. They have omega-3 oil that is useful in protecting your heart. So you should try to have at least two portions of oily fish a week.

Choose the Healthier Fats

Fat is required in our daily diet as it gives our body the energy it needs to function effectively. However, our bodies react to different types of fats in different ways. Foods like unsalted nuts, rapeseed oil, seeds, oily fish, sunflower oil, and avocados are good sources of healthy fats.

There are a few saturated fats that are responsible for increasing the amount of cholesterol in your blood, resulting in heart problems. So you should avoid prepared food and animal products such as butter, ghee, lard, cakes, biscuits, pastries, and pies as they contain a lot of unhealthy saturated fats. You should also cut back on using oils for cooking as much as possible. Instead, try baking, steaming, or grilling food instead.

Choose Snacks Wisely

If you want to have a snack mid-day, go for fruits, unsalted nuts, vegetables, yogurts, and seeds instead of chips, biscuits, crisps, and chocolates. Also, look out for portions when you consume these snacks to manage your weight better.

Beware of so-called ‘diabetic food’! Don’t choose any food that is labeled as such as there isn’t any evidence that it helps people with diabetes. These so-called diabetic foods may contain just as many calories and sugar, affecting your blood glucose levels similarly. Such foods are also known to have a laxative effect so it’s best to avoid them totally.

Final Thoughts

At the end of it all, you need to be more physically active together with making healthy food choices. These choices will help you manage your diabetes more effectively as well as alleviate heart problems.

Being more physically active helps your body to use insulin more effectively and also lets your muscles use the glucose in your blood more. Brisk walks are the easiest choice, for at least 150 minutes a week. So, pair physical exercise with healthy eating habits and you will be on top of managing your diabetes in no time.

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