Diet for Diabetes Is It Really That Important? Why You Should Care

diabetes nutrition

Diet for Diabetes

diet for diabetes

What Is Diabetes and Can A Diet For Diabetes Help?

Managing your blood sugar is the key to living well with diabetes, and eating well is the key to managing blood sugar. But what does it mean to eat well? Eat healthy foods in the right amounts at the right times so your blood sugar stays in your target range as much as possible.

An individual develops diabetes when their blood sugar/glucose levels are too high. Blood glucose is derived from the foods that are consumed and are the main source of energy for the body. Insulin helps transport glucose from the foods consumed to the cells in the body. If the body doesn’t make enough insulin, then glucose stays in the blood.

Eventually, the excess glucose in the blood causes a myriad of health issues. There are several types of diabetes, namely:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Monogenic diabetes
  • Cystic-fibrosis diabetes


Developing a healthy eating plan for diabetes is essential to managing weight and the risks associated with heart disease. Extra calories and fat cause blood glucose levels to rise, and if it’s not regulated, it can lead to hyperglycemia (high blood glucose level) and even nerve, kidney, and heart damage. Persons with Type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar by losing weight.

Diabetes Diet

A healthy diet for diabetes is much like a healthy diet for any individual: lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, as well as less salt, sugar, and foods high in refined carbsexternal icon (cookies, crackers, and soda for example).

If you have diabetes then your individual carb goal will be based on your age, activity level, and any medications you take. Following a consistent meal plan will help to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range, which will also prevent more damage to your kidneys.


Carb Counting With Diabetes

* Feel better and improve their quality of life.
* Stay healthy longer.
* Prevent or delay diabetes complications such as kidney disease, heart disease, eye disease, and stroke.
If you take insulin at mealtime, you will count carbs to match your insulin dose to the amount of carbs in your food and drinks. You might also take additional insulin if your blood sugar is higher than your target while you’re eating.
3 Different Types of Carbs: 
1. Sugars: such as the natural sugar found in fruit and milk or the added sugars found in soda and other packaged foods.
2. Starches: which includes oats, wheat, and other grains; starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn; dried beans, lentils and peas.
3. Fiber: the part of plant foods that isn’t digested by the body but helps you remain healthy.

While fiber doesn’t raise your blood sugar, sugars and starches will.


Foods to Eat with Diabetes


The following food choices should be considered when a person has diabetes and is looking to create a healthy diet for diabetes:

Healthy Carbohydrates:

The consumption of healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas and low-fat milk and cheese is essential. Unhealthy carbohydrates such as foods or drinks with added fats, sugars and sodium should be avoided.

Fibre-Rich Foods:

Foods that are high in fibre such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and peas and whole grains regulate how the body digests and controls blood sugar levels.

Heart Healthy Fish:

Fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines which may reduce the risks of heart disease. Fried fish and fish with high mercury levels should be avoided.


Foods that are high in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts, and canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil, help to lower cholesterol levels. However, these should be consumed in moderation.


Foods to Avoid with Diabetes

While counting carbs and making sure you include the right foods in your diet for diabetes, there are also foods that you should avoid as well. Individuals who have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke as it speeds up the clogging and hardening of the aerteries. Avoiding the following foods can help:

Saturated Fats:

High fat dairy products and animal proteins should be avoided. These include butter, beef, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, coconut oil, and palm oil.

Trans Fats:

Trans fats can be found in processed snacks, baked goods, shortening and margarine sticks.


Cholesterol sources include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, liver and other organ meats. Aim for no more than 200 mg of cholesterol a day.


Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Your doctor may suggest you aim for even less if you have high blood pressure.



Diet for Diabetes Summary

Overall when considering your diet for diabetes here’s what you need to remember:

Carbs in the food you eat raise your blood sugar levels. How fast that happens depends on what food you are eating and what you eat it with. Ex: drinking fruit juice raises blood sugar faster than if you are eating whole fruit. Eating carbs with foods that have fat, protein, or fiber slows down how quickly your blood sugar raises.

Create your diet for diabetes around regular, balanced meals to avoid high or low blood sugar levels. Remember to count carbs and eat roughly the same amount of carbs at each meal.


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