A diabetic food list refers to a list of foods that people suffering from diabetes are allowed to eat. Some lists also include foods that they cannot eat, and some also emphasize the foods that are most beneficial for them. These food lists are essential to make sure that the individual’s health is stable.
The diabetic diet has become a widely controversial subject among health professionals. Since diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from using insulin properly and causes blood sugar levels to increase beyond the normal level, a diabetic cannot eat foods that increase or cause spikes or sudden surges in his blood sugar levels. Diabetes can lead to many other health complications, and these can be avoided only by keeping the blood sugar levels under control.
So which foods are safe and which are not?
Into the Diabetic’s Diet: How Diabetics Can Eat A Balanced Diet
- Carbohydrates for Diabetics
- Protein for Diabetics
- Fats for Diabetics
1. Carbohydrates for Diabetics
The normal food supply of humans can be classified into three major food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
There are two types of carbohydrate foods: those with simple carbs and those with complex carbs. Foods with complex carbs are some of the best foods for diabetics. When dealing with carbohydrate-rich foods, diabetics need to draw a fine and very strict line between simple and complex carbs because, while complex carbs are extremely beneficial, simple carbs are ironically some of the worst foods diabetics can eat.
So which carbohydrate foods are complex carbs and are healthy for diabetics? More extensive diabetic food lists are available online and from your dietitian. But to give you a simple idea, some examples are whole grain foods, oats (but not the instant oatmeal or oat-based foods being sold around), and brown rice, among others. Fruits with complex carbs include apple, citrus, berries, peaches, and pears. Vegetables include avocados, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, onions, and several others.
On the other hand, foods with simple carbohydrates should be avoided at all costs. These include, almost entirely, breakfast cereals such as cornflakes and other sugar-coated cereals, white bread, cakes, biscuits, bagels, doughnuts, pancakes, bun muffins, and white rice. Some fruits are also to be avoided, namely dates, watermelon, and prunes. Potatoes, parsnip, and broad beans are also harmful for diabetics.
2. Protein for Diabetics
Protein is important for the building of muscles and strengthening of bones. Diabetics still need their daily supply of protein, which is why they are still allowed to eat meats and seafood. However, meats and seafood have to be prepared a certain way or only parts of them can be eaten. For example, in chicken, diabetics can eat white meat, which is found in chicken breast. In beef, only roast beef is safe for them.
If the diabetic do not like a vegetarian diet, lack in meat consumption can be compensated for by seafood. Seafood, in general, makes really good food for diabetics. Dietitians recommend that diabetics eat seafood as the main meal at least 2x a week. The best seafood for diabetics are salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp, scallop, and lobster.
Fried and breaded foods, both meat and seafood, should be avoided.
3. Fats for Diabetics
The body needs fat that it can convert into energy, so fat is essential for anyone’s diet, even for diabetics. But diabetics have a high propensity for becoming overweight and obese due to their unstable glucose levels and compromised metabolism. Thus, too much fat and the wrong kind of fat can be harmful for them.
Diabetics are only allowed to eat unsaturated fats, which, when stored at room temperature, take a typical liquid form. Foods with unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, and oily fish such as herrings and mackerel, which is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.
On the other hand, diabetics are allowed to consume saturated fats, but only sparingly. Foods with saturated fats appear in diabetic food lists as foods that are “allowed” but not strongly recommended. Some examples are whole dairy products, meat poultry, butter, cream cheese, full fat yogurt, lamb, beef, pork, goose, duck, coconut oil, and lard, among others.
There is another type of fat, which results when vegetable oils are heated with oxygen. These fats are called trans fat or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Most readymade processed foods and commercial foods such as instant cakes, biscuits, and other snacks usually have trans fat.
Diabetic Meal Plans and Food Lists
Several meal plans designed for diabetics can be found everywhere, although since diabetics should undergo continuous treatment, his or her eating should be monitored and recommended by his or her doctor. The best meal plan a diabetic can use is a diabetic food list prepared by a dietitian.