Diet for Diabetics

Diabetes is a lifelong condition which consists of high levels of sugar in blood because the body cannot convert the ingested glucose in energy.

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes) can occur at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in children, teens, or young adults. Their pancreas does not produce any insulin at all, or the secreted quantity is too low to meet the needs of the body.  This condition mandates external administration of insulin regularly as a treatment. The exact cause is unknown. Type 2 diabetes is more frequent in adults, and it actually is the most common form of this disease. It starts when the body does not produce enough insulin anymore, or when the cells ignore the existent for diabetics

If you got diabetes- doesn’t matter what type, besides taking your medication as prescribed by the doctor, you have to have a healthy diet. Here there are some rules to follow:

1.       Go easy with the carbohydrates

Since carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels, people with diabetes should carefully monitor the total amount of carbohydrates. The daily intake should be about 130 grams of carbs. Some nutritionists suggest a higher intake of between 60-90 grams per meal for men and 45-75 grams per meal for women. The carbohydrates eaten have to be the unprocessed, complex type. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of complex carbs.

When choosing carbohydrates, you should also pay attention to their glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a 50-gram portion of a carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels compared to pure glucose, which has a glycemic index score of 100. Typically, foods that score higher than 70 are considered high-glycemic-index (GI) foods; those that score 55 and under are considered low-GI foods. These means that if you want to keep your blood sugar low, you should choose food with low-glycemic-index, such as legumes, peas, lentils, nuts, barley, oatmeal, pasta, and rice (briefly boiled), or pumpernickel and rye breads, and breads made with quinoa and flaxseed.

2.       Don’t forget about fats and proteins!

A balanced meal includes fats and proteins, too. The proportion carbohydrates/ proteins/ fats is usually 50%/ 35%/ 15% from the daily intake. But if you cut on carbohydrates, you have to make sure that you are not overeating proteins and fats, because diabetics tend to convert everything they eat, even fat and protein, into sugar. These nutrients should be consumed in limited amounts, balanced with available carbohydrates; otherwise it is impossible to metabolize them. To keep you full, choose proteins. They take more time to digest and moreover they maintain the energy levels of the body. Proteins should come from lean protein and vegetarian sources, instead from red meats (fish, chicken and turkey, eggs, low-fat dairy, whole grain, nuts and seeds, mushrooms).

3.       Choose foods high in fiber!

Whole grain breads, fruit, and cereal are a good source of fibers and they also bring into your diet important vitamins and minerals. You need 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Studies suggest that people with type 2 diabetes who eat a high-fiber diet can improve their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

4.       Don’t skip meals!

If your schedule enables you, you should eat 4-5 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and one or two snacks). It is better to spread out carbohydrate consumption all over the day, because your body needs less insulin to handle the smaller meals and snacks. In time, the blood sugar level may lower and less cholesterol may be produced. As a plus, including one or two snacks into your meal plan, you won’t get as hungry before meals, making it easier to avoid overeating.

Anyway, you should keep in mind that eating four to five meals per day doesn’t mean you can eat more food. It’s just spreading out the food you’re already eating into smaller meals and snacks.

5.       Drink plenty of water!

As a high level of blood sugar dehydrates you, being constantly thirsty is one of the symptoms of diabetes. Drinking plenty of liquids can help prevent fatigue and improve your body’s physical performance. Water is especially useful for hydration for a diabetic because it has no calories, no fat and no cholesterol. Herbal teas are also a good option. You may drink unsweetened ginseng tea, green tea, or black tea. Great results for lowering blood sugar, you can have if you drink tea made of a combination of leaves of blueberry, blackberry, walnut tree and mulberry, dandelions, and sheaths of beans. Unless otherwise specified by the personal physician, diabetics should drink 3 liters of liquids per day for men, and 2.2 liters, for women.

6.       Learn what foods you should avoid!

You should put on your list to avoid: sugar (any form of sugar like white sugar, honey, cake, jelly, jam, pastries a.s.o.); fried foods; salad dressings; fat dairy; refined flours; fruits such as mango, grapes, custard apple, strawberry and prunes; starchy vegetables (carrots, beans, peas and beets); fruit juices; high-fat meat and dairy, hydrogenated oils.


Here’s a sample meal plan for you (


(360 calories, 52.5 grams carbohydrate)

1 slice toasted whole wheat bread with 1 teaspoon margarine
1/4 cup egg substitute or cottage cheese
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 small banana


(535 calories, 75 grams carbohydrate)

1 cup vegetable soup with 4-6 crackers
1 turkey sandwich (2 slices whole wheat bread, 1 ounce turkey and 1 ounce low-fat cheese, 1 teaspoon mayonnaise)
1 small apple


(635 calories, 65 grams carbohydrate)

4 ounces broiled chicken breast with basil and oregano sprinkled on top
2/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked carrots
1 small whole grain dinner roll with 1 teaspoon margarine
Tossed salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat salad dressing
4 unsweetened canned apricot halves or 1 small slice of angel food cake


(Each has 60 calories or 15 grams carbohydrate. Pick two per day.)

16 fat-free tortilla chips with salsa
1/2 cup artificially sweetened chocolate pudding
1 ounce string cheese plus one small piece of fruit
3 cups light popcorn


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