What foods should I choose when on a diabetic diet?
Did you know that 20-30% of adults with diabetes go undiagnosed? Diabetes generally appears after the age of 40 but can affect all categories of the population. Find out what a diabetic diet consists of, what foods to choose and how to prepare your daily menus!
What is a diabetic diet?
Diabetes is a chronic disorder characterized by a too high level of sugar in the blood. Normally regulated by insulin, the blood sugar level in a diabetic person cannot be properly balanced. This destabilizes the entire body and can lead to other disorders that can affect the vascular system, the heart or the skin, and the eyes.
There are several types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes… each with its own specificities and recommendations. If there is no treatment for diabetes other than insulin injections for type 1 diabetes, it can be controlled by ensuring a healthy lifestyle. And that starts with what you eat!
When following a diabetic diet, eating well is indeed essential. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not forbidden: you just have to choose them carefully. Otherwise, the recommendations are generally the same as for non-diabetics: eat a varied and balanced diet and limit the consumption of high-fat products, alcohol, and processed industrial foods.
What foods should be chosen when on a diabetic diet and how should menus be prepared?
In the case of a diabetic diet, the timing of meals is essential to limit as much as possible the cravings for nibbles and sweet products. It is therefore recommended to eat 3 real meals at fixed times. As for the dietary balance to be followed, it does not change: distribute carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins throughout the day, choosing your food well.
The content of the plate should therefore consist of 15 to 20% protein, 35 to 40% fat, and 40 to 55% carbohydrates (⅔ of complex sugars and ⅓ of fast-assimilating carbohydrates).
To choose your carbohydrates well, knowing the glycemic index of foods appears essential. The glycemic index (GI) is as its name suggests an indicator that measures the ability of a food to increase or not increase blood sugar. Thus, the higher the GI of a food, the more sugar it contains. A low GI is considered to be below 35, medium when it is between 35 and 50, and high when it is above 50.
1. Green vegetables
Useful to prevent diabetes, green vegetables are to be favored on the plates of diabetics! Choose to include broccoli, green beans, or zucchini in your menus. In addition to their low glycemic index, they also contain many vitamins and nutrients to help you stay in shape!
You can eat them raw or cooked (or both), in several forms: in purées, in gratins, in pan-fried dishes, or in juices to vary the pleasures and not get bored. Combine them with other foods such as starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, etc.).
Rich in proteins, legumes are one of the foods to be favored when following a diabetic diet. Here again, use a glycemic index chart to help you choose certain foods. For example, lentils, chickpeas, or kidney beans have a low index. You can include legumes in your diet 2 to 3 times a week.
Indispensable for good transit, fibers offer many benefits for diabetics (and also for others!). They have the particularity of helping to regulate blood sugar levels in a natural way while promoting the feeling of satiety and limiting the desire to nibble.
Soluble and insoluble fibers can be consumed without moderation: nuts and seeds, cereals and wheat bran, psyllium, or fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, apples, eggplant, or carrots. However, be careful with fruits that are very high in sugar, such as grapes, bananas, mangoes, and cherries!
4. Foods rich in unsaturated fats
As with carbohydrates, there is a misconception that foods containing “fat” should be eliminated from the daily diet. Fats are grouped into several categories: we distinguish between foods rich in saturated fats (which should be avoided) and foods that contain unsaturated fats. This is for example the case of products rich in omega-3 like certain vegetable oils, fatty fish or flax, or hemp seeds. Margarine can also be used to replace butter. To limit fat consumption as much as possible, the cooking method should also be adapted. We advise you to use non-stick frying pans or saucepans and to steam, stew, or cook in foil!