Diabetes: What to Eat What to Avoid? Top Tasty Recipes
Diabetes gives up on nobody!
It’s arguably as an uncontrolled chronic disease reaching epidemic proportions from children to adults worldwide and leave numerous consequences, like blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and so on.
No matter it’s prediabetes or diabetes, eating inexact foods is risky to increase your insulin levels and blood sugar while promoting inflammation to result in many serious diseases.
It’s better safe than sorry, in this article, I’ll share you the list of should-eat foods and those shouldn’t. Besides, if you find your current diabetes diet is too boring to knock you down, consult my referenced recipes to rise you up.
Watch out! Carb Intake Does Matter for Diabetes
You know it, carbs are one of three golden macronutrients providing energy to your body, other than protein and fat.
However, the way it’s digested and absorbed isn’t the same as two others, carbs are broken down into glucose or sugar and then, absorbed into the bloodstream. That’s why it effects directly to your blood sugar!
The body of people with diabetes is very sensitive to carbs.
For example, with a cup of mixed vegetables containing about 6 grams of net carb count, a normal person is good with it, BUT the diabetes doesn’t feel the same way.
I mean, their blood sugar levels will rapidly increase to alarming levels, which is pretty dangerous to their body vessels and nerves if such condition is prolonged from time to time. The result, as pointed out above, is your body moving to the stage of kidney disease, heart disease and other negative health conditions.
However, on the other hand, we need carbs! It’s just we need to choose wisely which should and shouldn’t eat to provide enough number of carbs for daily activities, but also control our sensitive blood sugar levels.
If you have been combed through my article written about the best recipes for weight lost, I’ve mentioned a lot of times that unsaturated fatty acids are waistline-friendly to our body, right?
HOWEVER, if adding hydrogen to them, it’s totally a whole different story! You can find it a lot in the industrial trans fats, like spreads, margarines, frozen dinners or creamers.
The reason why they add hydrogen is to make unsaturated fatty acids more stable. Even, some manufacturers add them to muffins or crackers to expend their shelf life longer.
Though industrial trans fats don’t increase your blood sugar levels directly, they have a close connection to raise insulin resistance, inflammation and belly fat. Also, they impair arterial function and decrease the good HDL cholesterol levels – two major reasons to cause heart disease in people with diabetes.
But the good news is thanks to the call by FDA in 2015, trans fats have been outlawed from products in the United States market within 3 years as well as many other countries. That’s why you haven’t seen the words “partially hydrogenated” in many products’ ingredient list recently.
Like trans fats and unsaturated fat, plain yogurt and fruit-flavored yogurt are two contrast stories – while plain yogurt is good for human beings, the other is loaded with sugar and carbs to spike your blood insulin and sugar.
As a matter of the fact, a cup of 245 grams of fruit-flavored yogurt contain up to 47 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 81 percent of its total calories.
Also, don’t opt for the frozen yogurt, its content of sugar isn’t less than an ice cream. Sometimes, it’s even more.
Flavored Coffee Drinks
The same stories with coffee and flavored coffee drinks. While raw coffee is advised to use because of its support to prevent diabetes risks, flavored coffee drinks ruin that benefit. Worse, it changes into a cause of not only your diabetes condition, but also weight gain because your brain doesn’t process solid foods or liquids at all.
Not saying that flavored coffee drink contains high carbs to raise up your blood sugar levels.
If that’s not enough to convince you, comb through this example – do you know how many carbs are loaded in a 454-ml cup of caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks? It’s 67 grams!
And don’t think about picking up a “light” caramel Frappuccino, it’s 30 grams.
My advice for this is opting for either an espresso or a plain coffee with a tablespoon of heavy cream.
Next up, sugary beverages are also a no-no for people with diabetes.
In general, they come in high content of carbs, which is arguably a two-edged sword. They, on one hand, provide energy to your body, but on the other hand, rise your blood sugar levels alarmingly.
A typical example for high-carb sugar-sweetened beverages is soda can. A medium-sized (12 ounces) can of soda provides roughly 38 grams of carb. And it’s not much better with sweetened iced tea and lemonade – 36 grams in a 12-ounce cup.
Might you already hear that eating sugar-sweetened beverages causes the risk of fatty liver and other conditions relating to diabetes. And you should believe it – that proof is in the science.
Besides, these foods are high in fructose, which leads to metabolic changes that’s not only related strongly to insulin resistance, but also promotes triglyceride levels, promote belly fat and potentially harmful cholesterol.
White Bread, Pasta and Rice
You might know it or not, consuming bagels, white bread, rice and pasta raises the blood sugar level significantly in those who with type 1 and type 2 diabetes because of their high-carb content. Particularly, bagels reduce the brain function in type 2 diabetes people, too.
And if you already underline these foods, don’t miss out the gluten-free pastas, neither. One study has proven that even in this food, it is able to increase your blood sugar as well. Amongst them, the rice-based types are arguably the greatest effect.
Instead of eating white bread, choose the high-fiber bread because it helps to slow down the sugar absorption into the bloodstream of people with diabetes. Besides, they reduce efficiently blood pressure and cholesterol.
Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
Unlike ordinary people, enjoying a bowl of cereal might ruin your day – diabetes people. Sorry to break the news, but aside from many mentioned health claims in their packaging, almost cereals come in pretty high content of carbs while providing really less protein.
It’s pity to say that even a heathy cereal meal isn’t healthy at all to people with diabetes.
For example, every 55-gram Grape Nuts contains roughly 41 grams of digestible carbs while the granola provides nearly 30 grams. However, each of them just has 7 grams of protein at all.
That’s why you -diabetes people – should skip this delicious dish to choose protein-based lo-carb morning meals instead. They’re truly healthy to you!
Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup
It’s good that you try to keep candy, pie, cookies and white table sugar at bay, however, another concern that you also should keep in mind is natural sugar and brown sugar, too. They are maple syrup, honey and agave nectar.
They aren’t highly processed (which I can’t deny!), the contain of carbs in such sweeteners are as similar to white sugar if not saying that it’s even more.
To give you a better overall look to what I’m saying, take a look at this table:
|Food||Number of Carbs (gram)|
See? Even one study on prediabetes people has shown that no matter which one they eat – white sugar or honey, the result of increasing blood sugar levels is the same.
My highly recommendation for you is choosing only the natural low-carb sweeteners and avoid all kinds of sugar.
More or less you have known about how beneficial of eating fruits, right? They are a great source of vital minerals and vitamins, especially potassium and vitamin C.
However, when being dried, the content of water in fruits is down, leading to the higher concentrations of these nutrients. But meanwhile, the amount of sugar is increasing, too.
For instance, a cup of grapes consists of 1 grams of fiber and 27 grams of carbs. However, a cup of dried grapes levels up to 5 grams of fiber and 115 grams of carbs. Holly crap! It’s nearly 4 times higher!
And another bad news is the same case with other types of dried fruits.
So, I guess you can know the next step of what you should do – avoid absolutely eating dried fruits. Instead, stick with the low-sugar fruits like a small apple (the saying one apple a day keeps doctors away works efficiently here!) or fresh berries while maintain your blood sugar levels in control.
Packaged Snack Foods
What are packaged snack foods?
They are crackers and pretzels and of course, they’ll never be a good choice for diabetes.
Why? Because packaged snack foods are always made with a lot of fast-digesting carbs to quickly raise up your blood sugar though can’t deny that they are utilized refined flour and do provide some nutrients to our body.
Here are the carb counts of some typical types of packaged snack foods. In 28 grams of each, there are:
|Food||Carb count (gram)|
Worse, some foods come in even higher carbs than listed on their nutrition label. This prove is in one study. It has shown that snack foods contain 7.7% higher number of carbs then their label states.
So, instead of looking for some packaged snack food to stave off your hunger in between meals, choose low-carb vegetables or nuts with around 28 grams of cheese.
Similar to dried fruit, the content of free sugar in juice is as high as soda or other kinds of soft drinks, which I already explained in my article named “Are You Sugar Smart at Home?”.
They also calculated that each 8-ounce unsweetened apple juice contains the same number of sugar as the soda’s, which is 24 grams. The same with grape juice – 32 grams of free sugar.
But it results to what, exactly?
-Higher blood sugar!
So, the way to enjoy fruits and still take advantage of all their benefits or nutrition is eating them raw. Or, drink water with a squeeze of lemon.
However, if you are a fan of fruit juice, kindly take a peek at this article.
The last no-no food in this list is French fries. Because potatoes themselves already contains a high number of carbs, about 37 grams in a medium-sized potato.
Besides, when you peel them off, and fry in oil, they not only provide high carbs now, but also contain a huge amount of fat. Not saying that if you deep-fry potatoes or any other kinds of foods, they tend to get even higher number of toxic compounds, for example aldehydes and AGEs, which is risky of inflammation, heart diseases and even cancer.
However, I know that potatoes are a tasty food that hardly you can avoid them entirely. Eating a small number of sweet potatoes is okay, but kindly consult your doctor first.
Now, as you have already known the consequences of eating inexact foods as well as comb through which groups or kinds of food to go to, I’m going to make it short in which specific foods you should eat:
|Starches||Baked sweet potato
Food made with whole grains, like millet, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, or amaranth
|Vegetables||Greens such as kale, arugula, and spinach. Don’t go for iceberg lettuce because of its low nutrients
Fresh veggies, lightly steamed or eaten raw, grilled or roasted
Unsalted canned or Low sodium vegetables
Plain frozen vegetables, eat raw or lightly steamed
Bonus: Consume various colors like orange (carrots), red (Bell pepper), dark greens, purple (eggplants) and whites (onions). Eat 2.5 cups of vegetables/day (guided by US Guidelines 2015)
Fruit canned with no added sugar or Plain frozen fruit
Low-sugar or Sugar-free jam
|Protein||Plant-based proteins, like buts, tofu, beans, and nuts
Seafood and Fish
Chicken (eat breast meat only to keep it low in fat)
Other poultry (remember to trim off their skin)
1% or skim milk
Nonfat or Low-fat sour cream
Low-fat cottage cheese
A general rule of thumb – keep low in fat by eating small portion
|Fats, Oils, & Sweets||Consume seeds, nuts or avocados in small portions because of their high content of calories. Or, choose other natural sources of vegetable fats
Tuna, salmon and mackerel to provide enough healthy omega-3 fatty acids
Grapeseed, canola, olive oils or other plant-based oils
|Drinks||Water, flavored or unflavored sparkling water
Coffee, with added low-fat sugar and milk substitute or black Unsweetened tea (add a slice of lemon)
Light beer, non-fruity mixed drinks or small amounts of wine
My Help to Eat Diabetic Diet More Joyful
These recipes below are admittedly diabetic-friendly and low-carb, however, they don’t tasteless or boring at all.
Pancakes – they are delicious – but, they are fatty and contain lots of carbs to threat your blood sugar levels. So, is there a way to enjoy it but still in safety?
Well, my answer is “yes”! And the secret here is trading butter for applesauce. Other than its delicious taste, not many people know that it helps a lot in cutting out excess fat, too.
So here, is my flavorful low-carb fat-free applesauce pancakes.
- Vegetable oil (2 tsp)
- Toasted wheat germ (2 tsp)
- Large egg (1), lightly beaten
- Baking soda (1 tsp)
- Nonfat buttermilk (1 cup)
- All-purpose flour (1 cup)
- Unsweetened applesauce (1/4 cup)
- Salt (1/8 tsp)
- Sugar-free maple syrup (optional)
- Cooking spray
- Fresh fruit slices (optional)
Firstly, combine all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda and toasted wheat germ together (use a medium bowl), then make a small well in the middle of this mixture.
Next, combine unsweetened applesauce, vegetable oil, egg and buttermilk altogether then, pour them into the dry ingredients, stir to combine.
Preheat a skillet or griddle (choose the nonstick for best performance) in medium heat, don’t forget to add some cooking spray. After that, add ¼ cup of batter onto the skillet/griddle, spreading to a circle of about five inches.
Cook them until their tops are full of bubbles while the edges seem cooked then, flip it up and cook the other side.
Baste with 1 tsp of sugar-free maple syrup or use fresh fruits as decoration. Don’t worry, this kind of sweetener just has around 3 grams of carbohydrate and 8 calories. Safe to serve!
Honey Grapefruit with Banana
Now, my next recipe is surely useful for those who usually in a hurry in the morning to prepare their breakfast. It just takes no more than 5 minutes, and what you will get is a fruity dish with lots of nutrients.
- Fresh chopped mint (1 tsp)
- Sliced banana (about 1 cup)
- Jar refrigerated red grapefruit sections (1 unit or 24 ounces)
- Honey (1 tsp)
Grapefruit after washing, let it drain for a couple of minutes, then reserve roughly ¼ cup of juice. Combine it with grapefruit sections, and mint, banana as well as honey (a medium bowl is fine).
Next, gently toss in coat and serve right away. Actually, my favorite taste is eating it chill. But in the morning, eating such that way is still good.
Veggie Sausage-Cheddar Frittata
Other than a diabetic-friendly and tasty dish, what’s more can it bring you?
Well, a lot!
Each serving of veggie sausage-cheddar frittata provides 10 carbohydrates – good enough for weight lost. In addition, the simple substitutes like egg whites, veggie sausage and reduced-fat cheese help a lot in cut back on bad saturated fat while providing protein, calcium and antioxidants.
Just keep in mind that vegetable sausage is prone to crumble if being microwaved for 15 seconds at high heat.
- Cooking spray
- Frozen vegetable protein sausage patties, thawed and crumbled (about 4 units, roughly 1.3-ounce)
- Egg substitute (1 cup)
- Green bell pepper (1 unit), chopped
- Shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese (1/2 cup which is equivalent to 2 ounces)
- Package pre-sliced mushrooms (8 ounces)
- Fat-free half-and-half (1/4 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper (1/8 tsp)
- Salt (1/8 tsp)
Heat your broiler. Use a 12” skillet (choose the ovenproof nonstick for the best performance) over medium to high heat. Now, coat it with cooking spray and transfer all chopped mushrooms and bell pepper into the pan, saute them in three minutes.
Next, add some salt, sausage and pepper into the mixture while reducing the heat from medium to low, cook for one more minute.
After that, add egg substitute, sausage and half-and-half in, combine together. Cover with lid and cook in six more minutes.
Last up, sprinkle with some Shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese. Be aware that ideal frittata should be slightly moist on top.
After broil it in 1-2 more minutes until the cheese is already melted, cut it into 8 wedges to serve.
Barley and Black Bean Salad
Now, if you are looking for a recipe for lunch, I highly recommend trying this – Barley & Black Bean Salad.
High carbohydrate and fiber yet low cholesterol – it’s not only perfect for people with diabetes, but also for lose weight because fiber aids in prolonging your full feeling and digestion.
Now, let’s get started!
- Olive oil (2 tsp)
- Black beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- Salt (1 tsp)
- Grape or cherry tomatoes (1-pint), halved
- Uncooked quick-cooking pearl barley (1 cup)
- Fresh cilantro leaves (3/4 cup)
- Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers (2 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Finely chopped green bell pepper (1/2 cup)
- Lemon juice (1/3 cup)
- Ground red pepper (1/8 tsp)
First thing first, cook the barley due to directions printed on the package, don’t forget to omit salt. Then, drain them and rinse with cold water for 20-30 seconds.
Next, add black bean, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, red pepper red and cilantro in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Then, add barley to this mixture, gently toss.
For those who want to get some kick, add the ground red pepper and the chopped poblano Chile pepper.
Fresh Berries with Maple Cream
Last up is dessert!
This guilt-free, sweet fruity dish comes in really high antioxidants yet low calories. For topper, I highly recommend fresh berries to take advantage their natural sugar content.
Commonly, they will use a bit of maple syrup to stir into the sour cream, but here, for people with diabetes, you should change into the low-carb sweetener to manage the amount of sugar yet still indulge the dish.
- Fresh raspberries (1 1/2 cups)
- Fresh blueberries (1 cup)
- Fat-free sour cream (3/4 cup)
- Maple syrup (1/4 cup)
Add your low-carb sweetener and sour cream into a small mixing bowl, stir to combine. Then, mix with berries and transfer to a dish. For more flavorful, you can add some maple cream over berries, choose the low-carb only.
The Bottom Line
Overall, a little more effort for a lot of reward. Just spend a couple of minutes to acknowledge some useful guidelines of which foods should and shouldn’t eat will help you – people with diabetes – enjoying your dishes more deliciously and joyfully.
I hope that this article is helpful for you, especially the given dishes. Wish they help to improve your daily meal!