While it is true that we cannot control our genetic make-up, age, or family history of diabetes, there is much that we can control that impacts our development of type 2 diabetes and the prevention of any worsening effects of the disease. If you are a diabetic or have a genetic predisposition for diabetes, you can take steps to maximize your health potential, add years to your life, and improve your quality of life during those added years.
Steps to take in staying at your healthiest as a diabetic include:
- Living a healthier lifestyle through a low-glycemic and well-balanced diet, proper exercise, and quitting smoking if you are currently a smoker.
- Keep track of your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. These numbers tell you how well your diabetes is being managed.
- Don’t miss your doctor’s appointments. Also be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. With diabetes, several aspects of health may be affected, such as your vision, your feet and legs, and your heart. For this reason, you may have several different healthcare professionals observing and treating you for your condition.
If you’re like most diabetics, you may be constantly asking yourself, ‘What can I eat?’ or, ‘What all must I cut out of my diet?’ Fortunately, living with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to feel deprived.
While you should avoid sugars and starchy carbohydrates as much as you can, there are many food choices that may satisfy your sweet tooth without significantly impacting your blood sugar.
Most of the healthiest, most anti-oxidant loaded fruits are actually quite low on the glycemic index and will not substantially raise your blood sugar. These include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Berries are low in sugar content relative to their fiber content, keeping the glycemic load down, in comparison to other fruits. Apples and oranges are also low GI and are good food choices in the fruit category.
You should, however, stay away from high sugar, low fiber fruits such as melons, grapes, and pineapple, as the glycemic index value of these fruits are so high, they will impact your blood sugar levels as much as eating pure table sugar.
Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index and are a good choice as a low-impact carbohydrate food. Have this in place of regular potatoes as a lower GI alternative.
Whole grains are a great low GI food. This is because of the germ and the bran in it. Germ and bran contains all the nutrients a grain product has to offer. When you eat processed grains like bread made from enriched wheat flour, you don’t get the germ and bran. With the absence of these important parts, you lose the fiber, and therefore you will raise your blood sugar levels with consumption of processed grains.
There are also lots of foods that are great at satisfying your appetite and can help you avoid over-eating. Low-calorie and high-fiber veggies, nuts, and Omega-3 rich fish all are great choices for this.
Nuts are great choices for diabetics because there is very little sugar in them, in addition to having protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that are important for your body. The healthy fats in them also help with satiety.
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collards, are the most anti-oxidant rich foods on the planet. There is also practically no impact on your blood sugar when you eat them. Eat all you want of these, the more the better.
Salmon is the most popular of the fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. The health benefits from this essential fatty acid, along with the high fat content (healthy fat) that is in salmon, make this fish a great food choice for diabetics, as well as anyone else, for both nutrition and satiety purposes.