As diabetes is a metabolic condition, the first thing that you can do to live healthier and happier is to eat well. Diabetics must be judicious with the foods that they choose to eat; special considerations must be made to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
The following table identifies key dietary concepts that can help people with diabetes choose healthy foods.
How To Spot Good Diabetic Foods
Low glycemic foods do not spike your blood sugar, rather the food's carbohydrates are released gradually. Low glycemic foods tend to be those that either contain few carbs or are composed of complex carbohydrates, not simple carbohydrates.
Choose whole grains over processed grains, whole fruits over fruit juices and raw vegetables over cooked vegetables.
Since most food labels in the US don't list the Glycemic Index, a great first step is looking for foods that are low in sugar and net carbs. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that digests rapidly (normally within one to two hours), spiking blood sugar and rainsing insulin levels. Insulin causes your body to store fat which causes weight gain and insulin resistance. In addition, simple carbs are quickly burned leaving you hungry and more likely to overeat.
Check the label...
Choose low-sugar or sugar-free options whenever possible. Be sure to check nutritional labels for sugar content before adding new foods to your grocery list.
Net Carbs are a measure of the number of unused carbohydrates remaining in the body after a food is digested. Net Carbs is a direct assessment of how much food energy you are wasting and ultimately storing as fat. Excess carbs have an impact on blood sugar as the extra carbs require an insulin response to moderate.
Do the math...
To calculate the number of net carbohydrates in a food, subtract the Dietary Fiber content (g) from the Total Carbohydrate Content (g). If a food contains sugar alcohols, you can divide the Sugar Alcohol Content (g) by 2 and subtract that amount from the difference of Total Carbohydrates - Dietary Fiber. This value is a rough estimate, however, and should not be assumed to be 100% accurate depending on the way your body metabolizes certain foods.
Fiber rich foods generally contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. While both types help you feel full and won't spike your blood sugar, soluble fiber is best because it has been shown to improve blood sugar control. Soluble fiber in food helps to moderate the rate of a food's metabolism, meaing greater blood sugar stability and fewer spikes in blood sugar after eating.
Know your sources...
Legumes, oat bran, whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables are often high in soluble fiber. Foods with more than 5g of fiber qualify as 'high-fiber' foods, but also be aware of the total carbohydrate content of a food when evaluating its fiber content.
Diabetes and heart problems go hand in hand. Saturated fats and trans fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Part of the challenge of eating wisely is that many of the processed foods that are sugar-free or low carb are also high in saturated or trans fats.
Ditch processed foods...
By going natural and making an effort to avoid processed foods, you'll do yourself a favor by missing out on most common sources of Trans Fats. Choosing leaner cuts of meat and low-fat varieties of dairy will help you cut down on saturated fats. As always, be sure to check the label.
Mono-unsaturated fats, poly-unsaturated fats, and Omega 3 fats can lower your LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats). Unlike the 'bad' fats listed above, poly- and monounsaturated fats work to sustain HDL ('good' cholesterol), which helps to maintain and improve cell and nerve function. Omega-3 is often referred to as an essential fatty acid, or one that is required by the body for normal growth and digestive processes.
The healthy fats within fish, beans, meat and vegetables will help your body maintain itself. Fish is especially high in essential fatty acids and can be highly beneficial to heart health.
Protein is vital in maintaining and building muscle mass to perform even common daily tasks more easily. Plant sources of protein are preferable over animal sources, since they are not a significant source of saturated fats. International studies have consistently shown that high-protein meals also can help you feel full and reduce appetite.
Focus your meals...
Planning each meal around a lean protein source with at least 15g of protein will help you both eat smarter and eat less. Black beans, fish, egg whites, soy, and protein powders are ideal protein sources.
What makes Extend Nutrition Products stand out among diabetes foods?
Extend Nutrition products were developed by Dr. Francine Kaufman, MD a former president of the American Diabetes Association. Extend Nutrition Products are Dr. Kaufman's answer to a diabetes food that not only fits a healthy diabetes diet, but also provides long-lasting blood sugar control. Finally, snacks that not only meet your nutritional needs, but also help control blood sugar for up to 9 hours.
Extend Nutrition Products are clinically proven to help:
- Prevent Blood Sugar Swings
- Control Your Hunger and Eat Less
- Get Better Sleep by avoiding nighttime blood sugar swings
- Maintain more energy
Extend Nutrition Bars and Shakes have superior nutritional profiles that meet the criteria for ideal diabetic foods. Unlike most other snacks, they are not only low glycemic, but have low/reduced fat as well.
- Low glycemic index
- High/good source of soluble fiber
- Little to no sugar
- Reduced Net Carbs
- Trans-fat free and low/reduced saturated fat
- High/good source of soy protein