You’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, now what? Your doctor will discuss with you all the foods you should or shouldn’t eat. Together, you and your doctor will create a meal plan that best suits your dietary needs. And finally, you’ll be told the importance of monitoring your blood sugar. While necessary, that’s a lot of information! It can be scary, confusing and overwhelming – we know! For questions regarding your personal needs, please discuss them with your doctor. However, here’s a breakdown of diabetic nutrition!
Why Is Diabetic Nutrition Important?
How Does Food Impact Their Health
After diagnosis, you’ve likely received a list of foods you should now steer away from. But why? Diabetes means your body has a difficult time processing and producing its own glucose (blood sugar). Several variables can affect a diabetic’s blood sugar. Eating carb enriched foods, consuming alcohol and taking insulin; or external factors like the weather and high altitude are all factors to consider as a diabetic.
While these levels will often change throughout the day, you’ll need to watch for drops below 70 mg/dL (“low blood sugar”).
Some symptoms of low blood sugar:
Part of managing this disease is ensuring your body has the nutrients required to function at full capacity. A balanced diet of well-portioned food is a huge help!
Portion control can be a great way to keep your diabetic nutrition on track. One popular method is the Plate Method. This includes filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables, carbohydrates and protein in manageable amounts.
An example of this is creating half a plate with broccoli, a quarter of a plate with salmon, then the final quarter with brown rice.
According to the CDC, a great meal plan will always consist of:
- Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, salad, etc.)
- Whole food compared to processed foods (less fried foods and more minimally processed foods)
- Less sugar and refined grains with less than 2 grams of sugar
Methods like this help to ensure you are receiving the proper amount of nutrients your body needs to function properly.
Foods To Eat & Limit
After a diabetes diagnosis, you may be terrified of never eating another cookie or slice of pizza again. While these should be enjoyed in moderation and with careful glucose monitoring, these foods aren’t forever lost! “Good” and “bad” foods are dependent on several factors, including your blood sugar levels, whether you’re insulin-resistant or not (Type 2 vs. Type 1) and your normal diet.
Foods To Eat
Some great examples of foods you can safely enjoy include:
- Citrus fruits, berries and bananas
- “Fatty fish” (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.)
- Whole grains
Foods To Limit
- Sugary drinks (soda, sweetened coffee, energy drinks)
- Fried foods
- Sweetened cereals
- Processed foods
This can make it seem like your future diet will now be filled with bland, boring foods. While these are the ideals to strive for in general, you are NOT restricted to a black and white diet.
First, make sure you are open and honest with your doctor and nutritionist about the foods you are eating. Type 2 diabetics need to be more careful about the foods they eat due to their insulin resistance. However, if you’re not insulin resistant (Type 1) or a Type 2 with their diagnosis under control, it’s okay to indulge yourself!
A diagnosis does not mean you will no longer be able to enjoy french fries or a slice of pizza. In fact, the occasional bowl of sweetened cereal for breakfast can also be a part of your routine – in moderation and as a treat. Diabetic nutrition is important to practice, but cheat days are real!
Just be AWARE and listen to your doctor!
How Can Diabetics Improve Their Diets
If you’re having issues managing your blood sugar levels or with an adjusted diet, here are some tips:
- Simple changes over time add up! Follow plans like the plate method, practice portion control when you can and try sticking to certain meal times each day.
- Exercise can help your body better process the foods you enjoy. Go on a daily walk, jog or run.
- Monitor and be aware of your blood sugar levels. Know where you’re at before, after and during exercise; know your levels for meals, in the mornings and before bed.
- Follow your dietary plans! We all cheat on our diets a little, and that’s okay. But make sure you’re following medical advice as closely as possible to avoid serious health complications.
Make sure you’re following all medical advice provided by your medical provider(s) to ensure your safety and wellbeing! For more information, visit our Diabetes Education services. To schedule an appointment with the right medical provider for you, use our Find A Provider Tool.
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/low-blood-sugar.html
American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/diabetes-superstar-foods
Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/processed-foods/
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity