Foods Allowed on a Diabetic Diet

Having either Type 1 or Type II diabetes means being careful about the foods that are eaten. This disease involves a constant process of adjusting the diet, then testing blood sugar levels to see how the body responds. While there are general guidelines about nutrition for those with diabetes, each case is different. Many foods are allowed on a diabetic diet; however, talking with a doctor or registered dietitian should be the first step.

Healthy Carbohydrates

Too much of any food can send blood sugar levels into an unhealthy range. The key is to eat a well-balanced diet that allows blood glucose to stay in the right range. This range will be determined by a physician. To accomplish this, the Mayo Clinic recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas and lentils to meet daily carbohydrate needs.

The goal is to focus on complex carbohydrates. These are broken down more slowly in the body, which means they do not cause a spike in blood sugar. In addition, vegetables are low in fat and calories, which will help to control weight.

Low-fat Dairy Products

Diabetics on a 1,200 to 1,600 daily calorie plan should aim to get about two servings of milk products each day. Diary products provide protein, calcium and other nutrients the body needs.

Since diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and because it is important to maintain a healthy weight, choose low- or no-fat dairy products.


Some foods have a low GI index (foods that do not cause a spike in blood sugar levels) while still packing a good amount of nutrients. This includes fish such as salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The goal is to consume 6 to 9 ounces each week; however, it needs to be non-breaded and not fried.


Sweets and baked goods are also allowed in small portions and in moderation. Sugar is not the main concern for diabetics--carbohydrates are. For most diabetics, occasionally consuming 45 to 60 grams of sugar at a meal is OK, especially if no other carbs are eaten.

When reading nutrition labels, look for the total amount of carbohydrates per serving. Then after eating, test blood sugar levels to make sure they stay within a healthy range. While a doctor or registered dietitian should determine when it is appropriate to test, the Mayo Clinic suggests that a general rule is to check blood sugar levels one to two hours after a meal.

Meat and Poultry

There is no one magic diabetes diet, suggests the American Academy of Family Physicians. General guidelines are that daily caloric intake should include 40 percent to 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein and 30 percent or less from fat. Poultry and meat products are allowed; however, keep them low-fat by not eating the skin, by trimming fat off and by limiting red meat consumption.

Fruits Allowed in Diabetes

Fruits are sweet and contain natural sugars. For this reason, some people think that people with diabetes must avoid fruit. However, the American Diabetes Association encourages people with diabetes to include fruit in their diet. Because fruit is sweet, it may serve as a healthy alternative to sugary desserts.

People with diabetes can -- and should -- eat fruit. Fruit has important nutrients that are an essential part of any healthy diet, regardless of whether you have diabetes. Fruit contains vitamins, minerals and fiber. Most fruits have a low glycemic index, which means that they are less likely to have a large effect on your blood sugar levels. Therefore, incorporating fruit into your diet should not cause your blood sugar to rise to an unsafe level. There are three types of carbohydrates -- starch, sugar and fiber. Fruit is considered a fiber-rich carbohydrate.

The fiber in fruit may prove beneficial to people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke than people who do not have diabetes. Fiber may help reduce your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol levels, which may decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke. In addition, fiber may help lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation. If you have diabetes, it is important that you regulate your blood sugar levels. The fiber found in fruit and other foods may help stabilize your blood sugar by slowing your body's absorption rate of sugars.

People with diabetes are allowed to eat most fruits. However, some fruits are healthier than others due to their fiber content. In general, fruits with edible skin or edible seeds have higher fiber contents. Most people should consume 25 to 30 g of fiber per day. Furthermore, foods that contain 5 g or more of fiber are considered to be excellent high-fiber foods. One cup of raspberries -- a fruit with edible seeds -- contains 8 g of fiber. One medium-sized pear -- a fruit with edible skin -- contains 5.5 g of fiber. Other fruits with edible skins include apples, peaches, plums, cherries and grapes. Fruits with edible seeds include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwis. In addition, citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are named diabetes "superfoods," which means they are considered to be superbly beneficial.

While most fruits have a low glycemic index and are therefore appropriate for people with diabetes, there are some fruits that are high in sugar and should be avoided. Melons and pineapples have a higher glycemic index than most other fresh fruits. You may also want to avoid fruits that have been sweetened with added sugar, such as some canned fruits. You may also want to avoid fruit juices, which often have added sugar. Dried fruits may also have added sugar. Sweetened dried cranberries, for instance, have a higher than desirable glycemic index.

Fruits & Foods to Avoid With Diabetes

Many fresh fruits and healthy foods are excellent sources of nutrients for apparently healthy adults. Such seemingly nutritious foods can wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes. The glycemic index distinguishes foods that are healthy for diabetics and foods you should not eat if you have diabetes.

When you eat foods with carbohydrates, your body converts the particles of food into glucose, which is absorbed into your blood. Your muscle, liver and fat cells cannot utilize the glucose in your blood when your pancreas cannot produce insulin, as is the case with type I diabetes, or when your cells are insensitive to insulin, as is the case with type II diabetes. Insulin controls your blood glucose levels to maintain the very delicate chemical balances in your body. Certain fruits and foods, especially when consumed alone, increase your blood glucose levels too fast. Prolonged, elevated blood glucose levels can lead to kidney disease, nerve damage, blindness, lower limb amputations and heart disease.

Follow a low-glycemic index, or low-GI diet, and participate in a regular exercise program five to seven days a week to help you control your blood sugar levels. Low-glycemic index fruits and foods have a GI of 45 or less and do not cause surges in your blood sugar. Avoid high-glycemic index foods or foods with a GI of 70 or more if you have diabetes. Foods with a moderate-glycemic index between 70 and 45 should be consumed sparingly and with low-GI or no GI foods. Unsalted nuts, lean meats and fish have very few grams of carbohydrates and are not assigned a GI.

Bad fruits

If you have diabetes, you should avoid all fruits soaked in syrup. You should also refrain from fresh pineapple and fresh watermelon. Avoid dried fruits that have added sugars such as raisins and candied fruits.

Bad foods

White rice, baked potatoes, graham crackers, jelly beans and several kinds of rice and oat cereals should be avoided if you have diabetes. Keep away from pretzels, scones, white flour bagels, French fries and waffles as well. You should also limit your intake of foods high in cholesterol such as egg yolks and shrimp. As a diabetic, you are more likely to have high levels of bad cholesterol and are at greater risk for plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries.

Post a Comment