If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then you understand the importance of eating a healthy diet. Diabetes is a condition where your body does not produce or use insulin correctly. Without proper insulin function your body is not able to regulate your blood sugar levels, leading to serious problems with your nerves, kidneys and heart. A proper diabetes diet is balanced and based on healthy foods. The diet uses portion control and scheduling to help manage glucose levels throughout the day.
Generally speaking you should limit your daily fat intake to about 20 to 35 percent of your total calories, according to MedlinePlus. The three types of fats include saturated fat, trans fat and unsaturated fat. If you have diabetes avoid foods that contain a lot of saturated or trans fat. This includes meat and other animal products, as well as processed foods like margarine. It is recommended that you avoid trans fat all together and in order to do so, you will need to read the nutrition labels on food to find out which foods contain trans fat. Unsaturated fats are healthy forms of fat and you should include them in your diet. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, strict guidelines have not been published regarding the amount of unsaturated fat that you should eat, instead it recommends that a good rule of thumb is to choose unsaturated fats over saturated whenever possible. Good sources of healthy forms of fat include fish, nuts, vegetable oils, lean meats and beans.
Protein is an essential nutrient for health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, adults get about 15 percent of their calories from protein. It further states that the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting protein intake to around 10 percent of daily caloric intake for people with diabetes. Protein comes from both plant and animal sources, and it is best to choose protein that is low in saturated fat. Vegetables sources such as beans, nuts and whole grains are excellent sources that provide healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to carbohydrates, focus on healthy forms that come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white pasta because they cause spikes in blood glucose. The exact amount and timing of your carbohydrates need to be evaluated by a dietitian to ensure you do not cause fluctuations in your glucose throughout the day.
You need fats, proteins and carbohydrates in your diet for your body to function properly and the best way to determine the exact ratio that your body needs is to consult a dietitian; however, the general foundation of a diabetes diet maintains that the majority of your foods choices come from fruits and vegetables to ensure the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and proteins.