For people with diabetes, eating the right foods is crucial to maintaining optimum health. Not only do you have to consider the nutrients your body needs, you’ve also got to account for how foods will affect your blood sugar levels. Here are a few things to think about when you’re planning your daily menus.
It is recommended that people with diabetes follow the Diabetes Food Pyramid, which is based on the USDA’s Food Pyramid. People who follow the Diabetic Food Pyramid should receive plenty of the nutrients, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and fats that the body needs to optimize blood sugar levels and nutrition. Grains and starches are key foods for supplying the body with the carbohydrates it needs. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are next on the pyramid and should account for a large portion of the daily caloric intake. Meat or vegetarian protein is eaten in moderation, with a recommended 4-6 ounces each day. Finally, fats and sweets may be eaten as occasional treats. It is important to note that consumption of healthy fats is encouraged; you can get these fats from nutritional powerhouses such as olive oil and nuts.
Getting the Nutrients You Need
In addition to eating healthy foods, many people with diabetes enhance their diet with multivitamins or other supplements to ensure that they are receiving all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. Some common vitamins recommended for people with diabetes include the B vitamins, antioxidant vitamins such as A, C, and E, and many others. Speak with your doctor or a nutritionist to determine whether you need to supplement your diet with specific vitamins and minerals. (Read more information on vitamins and supplements).
The Glycemic Response
While grains and starches are an integral part of the Diabetic Food Pyramid, choosing the right ones is incredibly important. Switching out foods like white bread and potatoes for low-glycemic foods like whole-grain bread and sweet potatoes is strongly recommended. These foods not only supply higher quality nutrients to your body, they also slow your glycemic response. That means that your blood sugar levels will stay more even and you’ll have fewer spikes and cravings. Try eating low-glycemic foods for just one week and you’ll be amazed at the changes you feel in your energy level. (Read more information on low-glycemic diets).