For some people, a diabetes diagnosis may seem like the end to good food–but it doesn’t have to be that way. According to the American Diabetes Association, you can still eat your favorite foods even if you are diabetic, but you will need to make smarter choices. Your goal is to keep your blood glucose readings stable with healthy, nutrient-rich food choices.
So what foods are good for diabetics? This guide will show you the best foods for diabetics, choices you can make that are good and taste delicious.
Best Foods for Diabetics: Carbohydrates
First, let’s talk about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, or carbs, help give you energy–and that’s why high-carb foods are also high in calories (energy). Carbohydrates can be simple (causes glucose spikes) or complex (does not cause glucose spikes). To manage your blood glucose, aim for complex carbohydrates and limit simple carb intake.
But why? Simple–simple carbs raise blood glucose levels more significantly. Unfortunately, it also wears off quickly, which can lead to a blood glucose crash. People who experience these crashes end up craving more food. These crashes are not good if you want to control your diabetes.
This is why you want to eat more complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly by the digestive system, which keeps blood glucose levels stable. It also improves satiety levels and contains more nutrients.
Complex carbohydrates include
- Most vegetables
- Whole grain products
- Brown rice
Some processed products containing vegetables or whole grains may contain simple carbohydrates. To avoid consuming these products, look for any of the following ingredients on the nutrition information label: sucrose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses.
Best Foods for Diabetics: Animal Products
Carbohydrates are not the only place where you will find these glucose busters–some animal products may also spike glucose levels. Now here’s the good part: most meat products are safe, provided they are not processed or contain sauces or creams.
Dairy products are a bit trickier. Generally speaking, processed dairy products may contain unnecessary amounts of carbohydrates, which are not good for diabetics. To avoid consuming too much sugar or carbohydrates, look for the following:
- Fat-free dairy products–these products contain less sugar.
- Dairy products that specifically say “no sugar added”.
- Plain yogurt (flavored yogurt can contain obscene amounts of sugar).
- Unprocessed products.
Remember, check the nutritional label before eating anything new and look for its total sugar and carbohydrate content. You can’t always tell how much sugar a product contains just by looking at it or “guesstimating” it. It can vary from brand to brand.