What you eat every day plays a large role in managing diabetes and the symptoms and complications that might arise from the disease. Because most of the effects of diabetes stem from the rise and fall of blood sugar, it makes sense that what you put in your body is a critical part of that equation. That’s why if you have diabetes, or if you’re trying to prevent it, diet is an important component of your diabetes management plan.
Diabetes Diet Basics
When you have diabetes, it's helpful to work with a professional, like a registered dietitian or a nutritionist, when planning your diet. People with diabetes often need to count carbohydrates at every meal in order to manage their blood sugar levels. Usually, this comes down to portion control. It’s often a good idea to choose low-starch foods, like healthy vegetables, over high-starch choices like pasta. People with diabetes also need to stick to a regular schedule for their meals and snacks to avoid large fluctuations in their blood sugar levels.
Diet as Part of Diabetes Management
A diet for diabetes, however, is really not much different from what everyone should be eating for healthy living. As a result, you should be able to enjoy the same meals that your family enjoys each day. The key is to choose the right balance of foods from each level of the Food Pyramid and to strive for choices that provide a high level of fiber and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. For example, it would be wise to choose lots of vegetables and healthy fruits as well as whole-grain breads rather than the more refined white breads. Non-fat dairy products, beans and lean meats are also excellent choices.
Along with exercise and medication, a healthy diet is one of the most important ways to manage diabetes. However, anyone whose blood sugar level remains high or who has other persistent symptoms, despite an adherence to a healthy diabetes diet, should be checked by their doctor.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; American Diabetes Association
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