Diabetic Diets for Dummies

People recently diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic often get little advice from their doctors on how to lower blood sugar and weight levels. This article explains the basics of diabetic diets.

Type 2 diabetics call us every day, asking about the foods and beverages they should be consuming to lower their blood sugar and weight levels.

The truth is, most doctors tell patients they have diabetes or pre-diabetes and recommend ‘diet and exercise’, but few give sufferers of this disease any direction on what to eat and what not to eat.

The primary goal of diabetic diets is to get within your target blood glucose or sugar range.

Target blood sugar levels are generally 70-130 before meals and less than 180, one to two hours after the start of a meal.

What you eat, the medicines your doctor prescribes and your exercise levels determine blood sugar.

The types of foods you choose to get the most out of your diabetes diet. Here’s a general rule of thumb to follow:

If you are a woman, you should try to stay within 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day. These calories should come from 6-8 starch foods, 2 milks, 3-4 vegetables, 2-3 fruits and 3-4 fats.

If you are a man, your caloric consumption should be in the 2,000-2,400 range, coming from 10 starches, 2 milks, 4 vegetables, 5-7 ounces of meat, 4 fruits and 4-5 fats.

A lot of people are unsure about what a starch is. Starches are potatoes, pasta, cereal, grains, pretzels, rice, crackers, beans, tortillas, yams, lentils and corn.

It’s recommended that you seek out complex carbohydrates like whole grains starches – they have more fiber, minerals and vitamins than short grain starches.

Examples of vegetables include lettuce, vegetable juice, spinach, peppers, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and cabbage. It’s best if you eat as many vegetables raw and uncooked.

Fruit provides carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet, with examples such as apples, grapefruit, peaches, berries, bananas, oranges, canned fruit and mangos.

Like vegetables, fruit is best eaten raw and uncooked and in smaller portions (much fruit contains high sugar levels).

Milk adds carbohydrates, protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals to your diet.

It’s recommended that you drink fat-free or skim milk.

Meat portions include meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, fish and tofu. These provide protein, vitamins and minerals. Because of their high fat content, smaller portions are suggested.

Fats should be consumed in small amount because of the high fat content and high calories. Fats include butter, margarine, mayonnaise, olives, bacon cram cheese olive oil and salad dressings.

Regarding alcohol, it’s suggested that you talk with your doctor before consuming wine, beer or spirits. They have no nutrients and can cause your blood sugar levels to go too low.

In addition to watching and controlling your starches, fruit, vegetables, fat, milk and alcohol intake, it’s also suggested that you drink plenty of water (8 glasses a day) and drink clear liquids (such as ginger ale if you can’t eat your normal foods for any reason).

This basic description of diabetic diets will give you a general approach to a healthier lifestyle. For more information, you can also contact the Association of Diabetes Educators or Recognized Diabetes Education Programs.


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