Most of the food you eat turns into sugar, also known as glucose, as a source of energy for your body. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cell to supply energy. People with diabetes either do not make enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin they do make resulting in high blood sugars. Diet plays a major role in helping you control your blood sugar. The diet for diabetes is not a restrictive diet and it allows you to eat a variety of healthy foods from each of the food groups.
Foods containing carbohydrates cause blood sugars to elevate. You do not need to avoid these foods, but control the amount you consume. Starches contain carbohydrates. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders recommends eating six to 11 servings of starches a day depending on your calorie goals. A list of starches you can eat includes bread and bread products, rice, grains, pasta, cereal, crackers, potatoes, peas, winter squash, corn, popcorn and pretzels. Choosing to eat more high-fiber starches will help you have better blood sugar control. Fiber in food slows digestion allowing for a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. High-fiber starches include whole wheat bread and bread products, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, peas, popcorn and whole-grain crackers.
Fruits also contain carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association suggests you limit your intake to three to four servings a day. Fruits you can actually eat as a diabetic include apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, melons, berries, pears, peaches, plums, raisins, unsweetened dried fruit, unsweetened canned fruit and juice without added sugar. MayoClinic.com suggests you choose to eat the whole fruit over the juice because of its fiber content.
Milk and Yogurt
Milk and yogurt intake is usually limited to two servings a day, according to NIDDK, because of its carbohydrate content. Choosing low-fat and nonfat milk and yogurt foods will limit your intake of saturated fat. As a diabetic, you have a higher risk of developing heart disease and too much saturated fat in the diet increases your blood cholesterol levels. Milk and yogurt products you can eat include skim milk, 1 percent fat milk, nonfat and low-fat plain yogurt and nonfat sugar-free fruit yogurt.
Meat and Meat Substitutes
Meat and meat substitutes provide protein, iron and zinc. Some meats can also be a source of saturated fat and lean sources are recommended. Lean meat choices a diabetic can eat include skinless poultry, fish, shellfish, beef eye of round, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, pork chop trimmed of fat and ham. Low-fat meat substitutes a diabetic can eat include egg whites, egg substitutes, low-fat cheese, low-fat and nonfat cottage cheese, tofu and canned tuna packed in water.
Diabetics can eat as many non-starchy vegetables as they want, according to the American Diabetes Association. Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. A list of non-starchy vegetables you can eat includes leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, green beans, peppers, onions and zucchini.
- MayoClinic.com: Your Diabetes Eating Plan: Exchange Lists
- NIDDK: What I Need to Know About Eating and Diabetes
- International Diabetes Federation: What Is Diabetes?
- American Diabetes Association: Virtual Grocery Store: Produce
- American Diabetes Association: Non-Starchy Vegetables
- American Diabetes Association: What Can I Eat