Diabetes diet: Healthy foods for diabetics


June 24, 2016

Here’s what to eat and what not to eat when you have diabetes

If you or a loved one has a diabetes, it doesn’t have to mean dinner is a bland meal. But it is important to pay attention to diet choices, and some foods for diabetics are better left at the grocery store.

Amy Kranick, RD, LDN, CDE, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center offered some additional information about the best vegetable, protein and fruit picks for diabetics, and why it’s so important to pick wisely when you’re on a diabetes diet.

“It’s important to be ‘in the know’ about what is healthy foods for diabetics and what is not a great choice when trying to keep your weight down, exercise and manage diabetes,” Kranick said.

What are good foods for diabetics to eat? First, protein is key to helping manage weight and keeping unwanted pounds from creeping up, Kranick says, because it can help keep your stomach full.

“Excellent sources of protein are seafood, white meat of poultry such as turkey and chicken, and lean beef. Dairy foods are also good sources of protein, which also provide you with vitamin D that is typically fortified and calcium. Beans (legumes), pork tenderloin and soy protein (approximately 50 grams) can also help to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy diet,” she says.

For a boost of protein in the morning, Kranick suggests Greek yogurt paired with high-protein granola.

“The additional of protein in the morning can help ward off hunger during the day,” Kranick says.

For proteins to avoid, Kranick says to stay clear of high fat meats like roasts, dark meats, bacon, sausage and any fried meats.

“These will all provide more saturated fat and cholesterol which would be undesirable,” she explains.

Because fruit is a carbohydrate source, large quantities could become problematic when trying to manage diabetes. However, Kranick says that fruit is not bad, and should be consumed as just one piece of fruit.

“With that being said, bananas tend to have the highest carbohydrate content of the fruits, and berries are the lowest,” she said.

For a diabetic’s diet, vegetables may become your new best friend. Kranick says to stock up on all kinds, colors and varieties of vegetables for diverse nutritional content.

“Learn to cook vegetables. Vegetables sautéed with olive oil is always a good team. Try grilling vegetables. Be innovative and remember, the starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn tend to have a higher carbohydrate content than green leafy veggies, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach,” Kranick says.

“And yes, the sweet potato has a very high fiber and nutritional content, which helps keep blood sugars maintained, as opposed to the white potato, which is not as diabetes friendly,” she said.

So what foods for diabetics are off-limits? For sweets, Kranick advises to never ward off the items we love entirely, and focuses on that key word: moderation.

“Choose these items in small quantities and try and choose exactly what you desire rather than sweets that you do not particularly care for. It’s all about moderation, and steer clear or sugar sweetened teas, lemonade and regular sodas,” Kranick says.

“If you can eliminate the sweetened drinks from your diet, that would be my first suggestion. One of the most difficult items when it comes to managing diabetes are those beverages.”

Ready to go grab some new vegetables for tonight’s dinner? Check out this guide to local summer produce.

diabetes diet