Consistently high blood sugar can damage your organs, cause you to gain weight and shorten your life. If you have high blood sugar, eating a balanced diet of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins can help you lower blood sugar levels. Whole grains, nutrient-rich fats and lean proteins can help lower your high blood sugar while still satisfying your craving for delicious foods.
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Although carbohydrates are the main reason blood glucose levels rise, avoiding them is not the answer to controlling high blood sugar. Your body needs a balance of foods—simple and complex carbohydrates for energy, fats to aid in vitamin and mineral absorption, and proteins to build muscle.
These foods should be healthy choices. The portion sizes and ratio of carbohydrate to fats to protein depends on your body type, glucose levels and whether or not you need to lose weight. Your doctor or a diabetes educator can help you figure this out.
The best carbohydrates for a high blood sugar diet are the complex kind such as brown rice and whole grain breads. Some simple carbohydrates are also healthy—oranges, apples, bananas—but vegetables and whole grains should be at the top of your carbohydrates list. Avoid simple sugars that are nutrient-poor, such as syrup, table sugar and white flour. Cutting out all white foods will help keep blood sugar down. Stick to green, orange, red and other colorful foods.
Healthy fats like olive oil and avocado can boost your immune system and lower your cholesterol. Watch out for hidden fats in processed foods, especially saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and trans fats. These fats raise your “bad” cholesterol and lead to plaque in your arteries. Most people with high blood sugar are at greater risk for heart disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Eating a diet containing nutritious fats and low in unhealthy ones assists in overall body health.
Protein is available to your diet as lean meats, such as beef, pork or poultry; legumes like black beans, kidney beans and chick peas; and dairy products, including cheese, cottage cheese and milk. Include protein in each meal to stave off hunger. Nutritionist Carol Guber recommends always eating a lean protein with a carbohydrate when having a snack. Including the protein slows the carbohydrate’s ability to raise your blood sugar.
A lifestyle change is often required to begin a high blood sugar diet. Instead of eating packaged foods or dropping by the nearest fast food outlet, cooking for yourself can help you control your diet. An example of a balanced dinner for someone with high blood sugar is 3.5 oz. of tilapia cooked in 1 tbsp. light margarine, one stalk of cooked broccoli, a half cup of brown rice with 2 tbsp. salsa, followed by a half cup of cantaloupe. At about 425 calories, this meal contains 50 g of carbohydrates, 10 g of fat and 29 g of protein.
For some people, 50 carbs per meal is too much. The best way to know how many carbohydrates you can include in a meal is to take your blood sugar before and after eating a food to see how it affects you. You may be able to eat more cantaloupe than watermelon, since watermelon tends to raise blood sugar very quickly.