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If you have diabetes then you know you have to start eating a special diet to stay healthy. In general, this is a diet that needs to be rich in nutrition while low in fat and calories with a focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Knowing how to eat with diabetes, what not to eat with diabetes, and learning how to put together nutritious meals and snacks can be challenging. There is so much information out there! We’ve put together a quick “How To” for those that suffer from diabetes. These are the same suggestions and meals that we try to use with Pops, though we of course recommend speaking with your doctor or nutritionist before making any changes to your diet!
How to Eat with Diabetes
When it comes right down to it, a diabetic way of eating is ideal for almost everyone! With a focus on lowering the intake of or completely eliminating processed foods, and instead, getting back to a more natural and whole foods focused way of eating, you can ensure the highest quality nutrition is going into the machine that is your body. Like a car that does best with high-quality fuel, our bodies do best with high-quality nutrition.
Foods you can eat with diabetes are those that have complex carbohydrates, are fiber-rich, and are high in healthy fats. You also want to make sure that you regularly enjoy fish – something like salmon or trout once a week. But most importantly, you want to look for foods that are low on the glycemic index.
The Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index is a tool that lists foods and ranks them based on how much they’ll affect your blood sugar. Indexed foods are ranked based on their nutrient composition, ripeness, and even how they’ve been cooked or the amount of processing they’ve gone through. Diabetics are encouraged to look for high fiber, high protein but low glycemic index foods because these sustain and stabilize blood sugar and reduce hunger cravings. It is different from the Glycemic Load which doesn’t take in the amount of food but instead the number of carbs. Both can be important in tracking blood sugar, and you should always try to limit carbs because they have such a huge impact on glucose levels. Using the Glycemic Index can help you figure out what not to eat with diabetes
Create The Right Diabetic Meal
All this information is great but loses its impact if you don’t have an easy way to demonstrate it in your everyday meals. Enter the Diabetic Plate. The Diabetic Plate is a visualization exercise that helps you easily remember at meal times how much of each food you should eat. It works like this:
The Diabetic Plate:
Fill half of your plate with high-fiber, no or low starch veggies
Take one-quarter of your plate and fill it with lean protein like fish or chicken
Fill the last quarter with complex carbs like rice, potatoes, or low-fiber fruit
What you want to avoid on your diabetic plate are foods that are high in salt, highly fatty foods like red meat, and highly processed meats like bologna or hot dogs.
Instead, check out some of these foods you can eat with diabetes:
Great Food Ideas are:
Greek Yogurt with Berries and low sugar
A handful of nuts like almonds
Apple with Peanut Butter
Grass-fed Beef Sticks
No-Bake Energy Bites
Peanut Butter Celery Sticks
Leafy Greens like spinach, collard greens, kale, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli
Apple Cider Vinegar
Squashes – summer squash is best but winter squashes have lots of fiber
Foods to Avoid:
Refined grains like white flour, pasta, and white rice
In addition to knowing what foods you can eat with diabetes, you want to try to break your meals apart throughout the day. In our experience, it’s best to do three medium-size meals and two to three small meals throughout the day to keep glucose balanced. This is generally a better idea than three giant meals because it keeps your blood sugar a little more stable and avoids sudden spikes and drops.