If you’re diabetic you probably already know that you need to avoid sugar, but what other foods should you avoid, or reduce, in your diet? Having diabetes or trying to prevent it doesn’t mean you have to avoid all of your favorite foods. It usually just means finding healthier alternatives or different ways of making foods.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin becomes impaired, resulting in the improper breakdown of carbohydrates and high sugar levels in the blood and urine.
Eliminate Sugary Sweets in Favor of Better Options
Because carbs can elevate blood glucose levels, simple carbs are best avoided as much as possible. These foods include sugary foods like pastries, cookies, cakes, pies and other sweets made with sugar. Instead of chocolate pudding or mousse made with sugar and cream, opt instead for one made with a ripe avocado, cocoa and a bit of the natural herb-based sweetener, stevia. Blend, et voila, you have a delicious chocolate dessert without any of the sugar of the original. As you can see: it’s not about just eliminating all of your favorite foods, it is about finding better ways of making them so they don’t wreak havoc on your body.
Switch Out Refined Grains with Whole Grains
White flour products like baked goods, breads and pasta have similar blood-sugar-raising effects in the body and are best avoided. While not technically a grain, white potatoes are starchy and act more like refined grains in the body than vegetables, so it is best to switch from white potatoes to sweet potatoes. Also switch white rice to brown rice or quinoa. The same is true of pasta: rather than choose white flour pasta, try some of the many delicious whole grain varieties like brown rice, quinoa, kamut and even black bean spaghetti. Switch from refined boxed cereals to 100% whole grain ones. Better yet, enjoy a cooked oatmeal or oat bran breakfast topped with ground flax seeds, some ground cinnamon (not just for taste, cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar) and a few drops or a dash of stevia to sweeten.
Make Vegetables the Focal Point of Every Meal
That may sound dull, but it can actually be amazing. This time of year, I regularly grill a selection of vegetables, including: asparagus, red peppers, onions, zucchini, squash, green beans with a little olive oil and sea salt. Not only are they great with any meal, I save the leftovers and toss them in a garlicky vinaigrette for a delicious antipasto platter for snacks or along with some whole grain crackers and plant-based cheeses I make for meals. Even keeping a dish of these pre-cooked vegetables in the fridge means I always have vegetables ready in a pinch to add to meals.
Focus on Fermented Foods
More and more research shows that probiotics in the diet can improve the body’s ability to use glucose for energy as well as improve energy balance in the body. This is a mechanism that is impaired in people with diabetes, so restoring it is a key to prevention or treatment. Research shows that boosting probiotic intake decreases C-reactive protein levels, a marker for inflammation (and a factor in diabetes), and also prevented spikes in fasting blood sugar levels. Both of these markers indicate improvements in the status of the condition. Some of the foods that contain probiotics include: kefir (a fermented beverage), kombucha (a naturally-fizzy and slightly vinegary-tasting beverage), sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. Regardless which type of fermented foods you add to your daily diet, be sure to choose only ones without sugar, like unsweetened Greek yogurt, for example.