When an individual or loved one is diagnosed with diabetes a major concern is about what foods are safe to consume. Always remember that food IS energy. Food breaks down into glucose (energy) so we can survive. Our mission is to provide our body with long-lasting and balanced energy. This is how we do it:
Food is divided into three major groups:
- Carbohydrates (starch, fruit, milk/yogurt, sweets)
- Protein (eggs, cheese, fish, shellfish, poultry, meat)
- Fat (nuts, seeds, nut butters, oils, avocado)
The diabetes way of eating consists of having high fiber or dense carbohydrates in moderation in combination with protein and/or fat. A perfect balance of food groups include moderate carbs, with an emphasis on non-starchy vegetables – also a carb – and lean protein with unsaturated fat. An example of this would be a small to medium sweet potato, salad, broccoli, salmon and sliced avocado. By balancing your plate with different food groups you will have a more level blood sugar and prolong your energy.
Many people eat a healthy breakfast full of carbohydrates: cereal, fruit and milk. This typically spikes the blood sugar in 1 -2 hours and then it will drop. This results in short-lasting energy. By choosing 2 slices of bread (preferably rye, pumpernickel or whole grain) or an English Muffin (carb) with eggs or egg whites and/or a lower fat cheese (protein) and slice of avocado (unsaturated fat) and/or tomato slices (non-starchy vegetable) you will typically experience a more level and balanced blood sugar and have longer-lasting energy. You may also add chopped nuts to your oatmeal and use water or unsweetened milk to cook the oatmeal.
The following foods are nearly equal in calories and carbohydrate amounts.
1/3 cup of cooked white or brown rice = ¼ large white or sweet potato = 1 slice bread = ½ cup corn or peas or legumes/beans = 3 cups raw vegetables or salad = 1 ½ cups cooked non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, okra.
Having brown rice or sweet potato instead of white rice or potato has benefits. Higher fiber/dense carbohydrates offer more nutrients and they also digest more slowly. This slower digestion allows the blood sugar to stay steady, avoiding spikes and falls in glucose and energy, for a longer period of time.