Written By: Emma Squillace
If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, one of the most important things you can do is eat in a way that will support your health. Type 2 Diabetes is a problem with insulin. If your body can’t keep your blood sugar levels normal, glucose builds up in your blood. Type 2 Diabetes can have serious long term consequences, but there are several ways to manage the disease. Following these tips for eating well with diabetes is a strong start to living a healthy, happy life even if you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
Biggest food factor for blood sugar: Carbs
Many diets today put an emphasis on watching your carbohydrate intake, and if you have Type 2 Diabetes you’ll be paying close attention to how many carbs you eat. We know that foods like bread and pasta are carbs, but did you know there are 3 main types of carbohydrates? The ones we usually think of fall under the category of starches. Additionally, sugars are carbohydrates, and so is fiber. Nutrition labels will show several different numbers for different types of carbs, but the American Diabetes Association says the one you should pay most attention to is “Total Carbohydrates”.
The glycemic index is a measure for understanding how certain carbohydrates will cause your body to react. The higher a food’s glycemic index (GI), the more the food can spike your blood sugar. This is something you want to avoid. People with diabetes should pick foods on the lower end of the GI scale.
Lower GI foods (good choices) include: sweet potatoes, beans, most fruit, steel cut oats, 100% stone ground whole wheat bread, and barley.
Higher GI foods (those you’ll want to avoid) include: white bread, white potatoes, pretzels, rice cakes, corn flakes, mac & cheese from a box, melon, and pineapple.
Although you make think sugar is completely banned on a diabetes diet, there is some room for flexibility. Sugar is dangerous because it can cause serious rises in blood sugar. Additionally, Type 2 Diabetes is strongly linked with obesity, and eating more sugar is a major contributor to excess weight. Despite these warnings, there are ways you can safely fit a sugary treat into your diet on occasion. The key to having dessert on a special day, or a cookie once in a while, is to lower your carb count in other ways. It’s not just about sugars, but about overall carbs. So if you’d normally have a tuna sandwich, replace that bread and have a tuna salad or tuna lettuce wraps instead. This decrease in carbs leaves you room to more safely have a sweet treat. Remember too that portion size is critical so focus on enjoying a small piece of dessert, from time to time. Otherwise, fruit is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Best foods to choose
Now that we’ve covered foods to be cautious with, let’s look at some of the best food choices you can make if you have Type 2 Diabetes. The top recommended foods for people with Type 2 Diabetes include a nice variety from savory to sweet, and from proteins to fats to carbs. The “top 10 diabetes superfoods” as recommended by the American Diabetes Association are: nuts, beans, tomatoes, dark leaf vegetables, sweet potatoes, fat free milk and yogurt, whole grains, salmon, citrus, and berries. With these choices, you can have lots of variety in your daily diet. You could mash sweet potatoes, roast tomatoes, or make a kale salad with walnuts and orange slices.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating boring foods. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, or are trying to eat well for other reasons, learning some new recipes can make what seems like a limited diet and turn it into new food adventures. One of the best ways to control – and prevent – Type 2 Diabetes is by maintaining a healthy weight. If you have diabetes, or are worried about your risk factors for getting it, talk to our experts about how weight loss treatment can help. We have a variety of surgical and non-surgical options. You can speak with our team by calling 855-690-0565.