In a healthy person, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that the body uses to turn sugar into energy. However, if this metabolic process does not work correctly, diabetes occurs. Type I diabetes is a congenital disease that happens when the pancreas does not create its own insulin.
Type 2 diabetes develops over time as chronically high sugar consumption damages the body’s ability to properly process sugar. Because diet has such a strong effect on blood sugar, it is recommended that diabetic patients follow specific diets.
General Diabetic Diet Guidelines
Though diabetes can sometimes be treated with shots of insulin to lower blood sugar, it is better to avoid high blood sugar levels in the first place. Each person with diabetes has a unique response to certain foods.
Therefore, there is no specific diet that any patient with diabetes absolutely must follow. The goal of a diet for a person with diabetes is basically just to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking.
There are generally slight variations between patients with different diabetes types and health problems, but any diabetic diet normally needs to meet a few specific guidelines. It is recommended that patients with diabetes avoid eating excessive amounts of sugar.
It is also important for them to eat regularly, because skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to bounce around wildly. It is important for patients with diabetes to start reading food nutrition labels and avoiding things high in sugar, saturated fats, carbohydrates, and calories.
Diets for People With Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is primarily managed with insulin injections. Patients with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis just need to focus on getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins while avoiding foods high in unhealthy fats or sugar.
Though fats do not technically effect type 1 diabetes, saturated fats from animals increase heart disease risks. Diabetes patients already have a higher risk of heart disease, so it is generally wise to lower fat levels.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of high blood sugar levels, so it is normally good eat less empty carbohydrates like potato chips or cake. Fiber helps to slow sugar absorption, so it is very beneficial for all patients with diabetes.
Foods to avoid with type 1 diabetes
- Whole milk, butter, and other fattier dairy products
- Meat high in saturated fat, such as ground beef or bacon
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes should only be eaten occasionally
- Refined grains such as white flour and white rice
- Fruit juice and smoothies
- Processed snacks such as chips, cookies, or crackers
- Most baked goods made with white flour and sugar
- Fried foods
Foods to eat with type 1 diabetes
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts
- High fiber fruits like citrus and berries
- Lean proteins such as chicken and certain cuts of beef
- Sources of healthy fats such as tuna, salmon, and avocado
- Low fat milk and other low fat dairy products
- Legumes such as black beans, lentils, and pinto beans
- Sweet potatoes
- High fiber vegetables including spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery
Diets for People With Type 2 Diabetes
The dietary needs for people who have developed type 2 diabetes later in life is a little different. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the major treatment method for type 2 diabetes is focusing on diet and exercise because type 2 diabetes is frequently caused by a bad diet.
Many patients with type 2 diabetes tend to be obese, but lowering weight can help to reduce diabetes symptoms. Therefore, eating a healthy diet without excess calories is very important.
Limiting sugar and fats is even more important for patients with type 2 diabetes. It is also recommended that type 2 diabetes patients lower their sodium intake to avoid more diabetes complications.
Foods to watch out for with type 2 diabetes
- Products made from white flour, like bread, cake, cereals, cookies, and crackers
- Lunch meat, hot dogs, bacon, and other processed, salty meats
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn should only be eaten in small amounts
- Sugary items like ice cream, candy, and soda
- Fruit juices
- Alcohol can be consumed in moderation, but carb-heavy beers and sugary mixed drinks should be avoided
- Anything with high calories levels
Foods to eat with type 2 diabetes
- Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and wild rice
- Lean cuts of turkey and chicken
- Salmon and other fish that contain omega-3 fats
- Beans that are high in fiber and protein
- Low fat dairy products like yogurt
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
- Broccoli, carrots, and other high-fiber vegetables
- Avocado, olive oil, walnuts, and other sources of healthy fats
If you’re a diabetic, this post will surely have been of some help and informed you of the diet changes at your disposal to help you lead a more healthy life.