Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects more than 32 million Americans. It happens when your body can’t regulate your blood sugar levels — either because your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or because your body's cells don’t respond properly.
Diabetes requires life-long management, and when you have diabetes, what you eat matters. Your diet affects your blood sugar, and eating the right foods helps make diabetes management easier.
But what should you eat if you have diabetes? Brian Lamkin, DO, and our team at The Lamkin Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma, are here to help you figure it out. We specialize in diabetes management, and here’s what you need to know about diabetes and your diet.
Diabetes makes it hard for your body to regulate blood sugar levels. That means it’s easy for your blood sugar to get too high, leading to complications like heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney disease.
Your diet is crucial to managing diabetes because it directly affects blood sugar levels. Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates elevate your blood sugar faster than other foods, and your body can't properly regulate those levels.
Eating foods lower in sugar and carbs have a slower and less significant effect on blood sugar, making it easier to manage your blood sugar and reduce your risk of complications.
In addition to choosing healthy foods, you should also pay attention to portion sizes and meal timing. Eating smaller, more frequent meals daily can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes.
When you’re living with diabetes, it’s easy to feel like there’s a lot you shouldn’t eat. It’s true that you should avoid foods high in refined carbohydrates, trans fats, saturated fats, and sugars. But, there are many things you can — and should — eat.
Fruits are a healthy source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber. If you have diabetes, choose fruits low in sugar and eat them in moderation. A few good options include berries, like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, as well as citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits.
Vegetables are another essential staple of a healthy diet, especially for people with diabetes. They’re low in calories and carbohydrates and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Eat various colorful vegetables and leafy greens to help improve your blood sugar control and reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications.
Whole grains are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, which can help regulate your blood sugar levels. Look for foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal.
Protein helps you maintain muscle mass and regulate blood sugar levels. Choose lean protein sources that are low in saturated fat and sodium (salt), like poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu.
Not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats can help improve your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. When choosing fats for eating or cooking, pick unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fats, like baked goods, fried foods, and processed snacks.
Dairy products can be part of a healthy diabetes diet, too. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese. Be mindful of how much cheese you eat because it can be high in saturated fat and sodium.
Staying hydrated is crucial for everyone, but it’s particularly important for people with diabetes. Diabetes can increase your risk of dehydration, and drinking plenty of water daily helps you maintain regular blood sugar and stay hydrated.
A healthy diet is essential for managing diabetes. The right foods help regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications, and you don’t have to figure it out alone. Book an appointment at The Lamkin Clinic, and let us help you develop a personalized eating plan that meets your individual needs.