Being diabetic doesn’t mean you have to avoid sugar and carbohydrates but it does mean you need to take more care with your food choices.
Remember, no two diabetics are the same and some people have it to a varying degree so there’s no set of rules that every diabetic must follow.
There are also different types of diabetics, Type one, Type two, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, MODY, and gestational diabetes for example.
What you do need to do is make healthy food choices and find foods that will manage your blood glucose levels better, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels safe.
If you don’t follow a sensible diabetic diet, you could encounter bigger problems, such as the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer.
There’s no need to panic, it’s all about moderation and being sensible.
Before we look at the best foods for you, let’s recap on the different types of diabetes and what it means food-wise:
Type One means that you need to count your carbs to keep your blood glucose levels normal.
So, you need to think about the carbs you consume and consider how much insulin you need to take.
Type Two diabetes means you need to manage your weight, especially if you’re overweight because otherwise, you could spike your blood sugar.
So, low carb is best or low calorie.
To help you make wise choices, we’ve compiled a list of foods you must eat if you’re diabetic.
This list is not exhaustive but it is a guide to help you live a healthy life with diabetes.
1. You Can Eat Carbs
Just healthier carbs!
Do be aware of which foods are carbohydrates and which recipes contain carbohydrates.
As an example, healthy carbs include whole grains (brown rice, brown bread, buckwheat and wholewheat pasta), fruit and vegetables, chickpeas, beans, lentils, Greek yogurt and milk.
The types of carbs that you should avoid include white bread, white pasta and white rice.
2. You Can Enjoy Lots of Protein!
Eggs, fish and chicken are definitely on the menu but watch how you cook them.
So, don’t eat fried eggs unless you use a non-stick pan with no oil but boiled eggs or poached eggs are perfectly fine.
Watch how many eggs you eat though as too many could harm your cholesterol levels.
Fish is definitely fine for you to eat (but not fried fish), enjoy grilled or baked salmon, a nice piece of fresh seabass, cod, haddock, mackerel and tuna – all are suitable.
A steak or other red meat isn’t good for you because they increase cholesterol and it’s important to keep your cholesterol levels low if you’re diabetic.
3. Pulses are Good for You
Don’t miss out on pulses, not only are they nutritious and delicious, they’re great for diabetics.
Pulses have numerous vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, thiamine and niacin.
Stock up on lentils, chickpeas and beans because they’re high in fiber and vegetable proteins without being too calorific.
You could make a delicious lentil casserole!
4. Eat Fruit
Fruit is good for everyone and while it contains sugar, that sugar is natural so it’s different to “free sugars” or the types that are used in chocolates, cakes, pastries and biscuits.
Fruit is also essential because it has the vitamins that your body needs to maintain good health.
There’s so much fruit you can eat, bananas, apples, kiwis, apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears and more.
Why not make a fruit salad (avoid adding syrup) and cut up fruit in Tupperware for a healthy snack idea?
Cherries are particularly good for diabetics because they’re low GI, plus they’re relatively low carb and full of antioxidants that could give your overall health a boost.
5. Get Your Greens!
Vegetables are really good for you (but you already knew that!).
Leafy greens in particular and they’re low in calories as well as being low carbs so they won’t drive your blood sugar levels upwards!
Load up on spinach, kale and broccoli (broccoli contains just 3g of digestible carbohydrates), all good sources of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C is particularly important because it helps to reduce inflammation and blood pressure, essential for diabetics.
Green, leafy vegetables are excellent for vitamin C content and they contain antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both give your eyes protection from macular degeneration and cataracts, two common illnesses associated with diabetes.
Greens are also tasty and make a great side dish to a grilled piece of lean meat, chicken or fish.
6. Enjoy Squash
As well as leafy greens, squash is excellent for diabetics and really healthy plus there are lots of varieties, for example, pumpkin, butternut, courgette and marrows.
Packed with antioxidants, pumpkin and butternut squash are high in lutein and zeaxanthin too (so beneficial for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts).
Pumpkins and butternut squash do have higher carb content than courgette and marrows but they’re still on the low side and make a delicious soup!
7. Go Nuts!
Nuts contain fiber and they’re low carb (but do watch the content in your nut choice as some are higher than others).
The best nuts for diabetics include Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and walnuts.
Eating nuts might even reduce your blood sugar and inflammation.
There’s even evidence that some diabetics eating nuts as a snack on a regular basis reduces insulin levels.
8. Noodles of Choice!
Just because you’re diabetic doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy noodles.
Shirataki noodles are good for controlling your weight and keeping your carb intake down, they’re also high in fiber.
Now, the even better news is that Shirataki noodles have been proven to reduce blood sugar levels after eating because of their Glucomannan content (a viscous fiber that makes you feel full after eating).
So they’re especially good for diabetes sufferers and a 3 oz/100 g portion of these noodles contains less than 1g of carbs.
You should definitely keep these in your food storage.