Diabetic Diet

Diabetes is a complicated disease. Whether you are a borderline or a full diabetic, it is imperative that you maintain control of over your blood sugar, diet, and weight.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the symptoms of a diabetic are subtle and sometimes overlooked. However, if you are a diabetic, what is happening inside of your body is not subtle, for your body lacks the ability to store and process simple and complex sugars. Not paying attention to a diabetic diet plan can result in severe health problems.

You need to exercise on a daily basis, monitor your blood pressure and check your blood sugar. It's not about avoiding sugars and carbohydrates, it's about controlling them.

Diabetic Diet

If you haven't met with a dietitian or a diabetes educator about a sensible diabetic diet plan, it is advisable to do so. Taking a trip to your local hospital and asking to speak to the Head Dietitian will allow you to understand what needs to happen in order for you to stay healthy. You will also be presented with a list of acceptable foods for diabetics.

Developing a practical approach to a diabetic diet is the primary focus of this article. In this day and age, when the family is busy and meals are rushed, how does a diabetic keep an accurate count of what they are consuming on a daily basis?

Thankfully, bookshelves are full of cookbooks geared especially for diabetics, as well as dozens of online recipe sites. By doing a bit of planning and research beforehand, you can take control of your diet by simply taking your shopping list with you and buying the correct ingredients.

Carbohydrates and Diabetes

Carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar faster than fats or protein. Most carbs come from things like milk, yogurt, bread, pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables such as corn, beans, and potatoes.

Not all carbohydrates are equal. Simple carbs are things like bread and sugar. Complex carbs would be foods like nuts, beans, and vegetables. It is best to focus on complex carbohydrates. These will give you energy and fiber as they digest more slowly than simple carbs.

Eating too many carbohydrates can make your blood sugar rise substantially. Not eating enough can make it fall too low.

Most diabetics, after speaking with their doctor or dietician, know the number of carbohydrates they can safely consume in an average day, then they divide that number into 3.

The Glycemic Index and Diabetes

There are certain foods that can make your blood sugar spike very high very quickly. Things like sugar and bread are quickly absorbed by the body and turned into sugar. Because of this, doctors have created a glycemic index, which can help to tell you if a certain food is more likely to spike your blood sugar.

The glycemic index (sometimes just called the G.I.) is fairly easy to use. It works on a scale from 1 to 100, with one being very low (which is good) and 100 very high.

The scale can be broken down into 3 basic parts:

  • 1-55: Very low to low (which means you can eat more of these foods)
  • 56-69: Medium
  • 70 -100: Very high (which means these should be avoided. eaten in very small amounts, or in combination only with low glycemic foods)

Foods that are as natural as possible tend to be lower on the glycemic index than processed or refined foods. It's important to note that some foods can change their glycemic index over time. Bananas, for example, increase their sugar levels between barely ripe and very ripe. A regular, ready to eat, still yellow skinned banana has a glycemic index of 48, but once it gets those brown dots, it can be as high as 59.

Best Choices for Those with Diabetes

Diabetic dietIt is not a matter of limiting sugar, fats and salt. It is a matter of moderating what you eat

Vegetables, legumes, and beans will supply you with carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber, as well as most of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Fill half of your plate at lunch and dinner with non-starchy vegetables.

Eating 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day will help prevent most problems. Some of the best vegetable choices include:

  • Green Peppers
  • Turnip
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Greens, including kale, mustard, collard or turnip
  • Sugar Snap Peas (Don't let the name fool you)
  • Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Amaranth
  • Cucumbers

If you use canned vegetables, you would do well to rinse them with cold water prior to cooking to remove the excess salt. Your raw vegetables should be eaten without sauces or dips, and there are many low-fat salad dressings on the market today if you simply have to dip your veggies.

Cooking Tips

Cooking with spices is another way to enhance your meals. Adding onion and garlic when you can. This gives you an extra edge on flavor. Also, use lemon juice instead of butter or margarine on your fish. This also works great as a natural salad dressing. Small changes like this will help keep your blood sugar in check. If the meat has a bit of fat on it, cut the fat off and toss it into the vegetable pot for added flavor. Discard the fat after cooking the vegetables.

The Six Food Groups for Diabetics

You have six basic food groups to draw from when planning your diabetic diet meals. This group was formulated by a committee from The American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association.

The list contains the following groups:

  1. Starch/Bread List: includes beans, breads, cereals, grains, crackers and some vegetables
  2. Meat List: including certain cheeses that you can substitute for meat
  3. Vegetable List: fresh, frozen and canned
  4. Fruit List: fresh, frozen and canned fruits
  5. Milk List: skim, whole and non-fat
  6. Fat List; unsaturated and saturated fats

A full list can be found in any Diabetic cookbook or from the American Diabetes Association website. Your doctor will also provide you with a dietary guide. There are three types of Diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 and gestational.

You basically pick your meals from this list:

  • 1 fruit
  • 2 meats
  • 2 breads
  • 1 milk
  • 1 fat

Diabetic Diet Plan Sample Menu

This should be your program every meal. Below is a sample of a Diabetic Diet Plan to get you started:


  • 4 Oz. Juice
  • 1 slice of bread, toasted
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz. Milk
  • 1 tsp. butter or margarine


  • ½ cup sliced cucumber on lettuce
  • mushroom and spinach omelet
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • ½ cup canned vegetables (rinsed and drained well)
  • Coffee or tea (artificial sweeteners only: no sugar)


  • 1 cup homemade bouillon (to control salt)
  • 1 pork chop grilled (fat trimmed)
  • ½ cup cooked beets
  • ½ cup cooked green beans
  • 1 small salad with fat-free dressing
  • 1 slice bread

You do have free foods available that will not impact your health:

  • Bouillon or broth
  • Carbonated or mineral water
  • Club Soda
  • Coffee or teas (again, sweetened only with artificial sweeteners, no sugar)
  • Diet soft drinks
  • Sugar-free drink mixes
  • Sugar-free tonic water
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Sugar-free Jell-O
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Low-sugar jams and jellies

It is not a matter of limiting sugar, fats and salt. It is a matter of moderating what you eat and creating the right balance leading to a longer, healthier life. By following this diet plan, you can eat better, improve your health, control your blood sugar levels naturally and enjoy a rich, full life.