If You’re Diabetic, Here’s What You Can and Cannot Eat

Diabetes is a disease that’s becoming increasingly visible in our society. The World Health Organization has estimated that about 8.4% of the world’s population actually suffer from Type II diabetes. Currently, there are two types of diabetes. Type I is usually detected in young children and they need constant insulin jabs as their body can’t produce sufficient insulin.

Type II diabetes, which is more common, develops in adults. This type of diabetes can be treated with drugs and diet control. Diabetes patients in this category produce enough insulin, but somehow the body just can’t detect it or use it. Insulin is the hormone responsible for turning excess sugar in your blood into glucagon, a storage form of sugars.

What are the effects of diabetes?

As the body lacks insulin to convert glucose, blood sugar levels in diabetics are constantly high. If blood sugar is not controlled by treatment, this can lead to many long term complications, including:

1. Heart disease, including heart attacks and angina

2. Failing eyesights and eye disease including glaucoma, retinopathy and cataracts.

3. Loss of limbs due to injuries that have difficulty healing

4. Frequent infections due to weakened immune system

5. Nerve damage, causing loss of control over hands, feet and other body parts

6. Kidney problems, including the development of kidney stones

7. Problems with the liver, including fatty liver.

8. High blood pressure.

9. Skin problems including fungal infections and rashes

Image credit: Blue Diamond Gallery

How do I know if I have diabetes?

If you have the symptoms of diabetes, the only way to find out for sure is to have a fasting blood glucose test. Usually, the doctor will require you to fast for at least 8 hours before the test. If you are having several of these symptoms, go and get it checked out ASAP:

  • Constant thirst
  • Getting up during the night to go to the toilet, as you’ve consumed a lot of water
  • Feeling severe hunger, especially in the middle of the night
  • Cramps in hands and feet
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Skin infections
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness for no reason)
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth

Once you see a doctor, they will be able to discuss treatment regimes with you. However,you’ll also have to change your lifestyle in addition to taking your medication regularly. This means exercising more and reducing your carbohydrate intake.

Image credit: Health.mil

What can I eat if I’m diabetic?

It’s really not easy to eat if you’re diabetic. The key is to cut out sugary drinks and desserts to a minimum. However, cutting out carbs is the most challenging. If you live in a culture where carbohydrates like rice, pasta and bread are the main staples, it’s even harder.

Here are some ideas on what you can do to replace your usual meal items:

1. Basmathi Rice

Basmathi rice originated in India, and is usually used to make dishes like Pulao, Briyani and more. Instead of eating your normal rice, choose Basmathi instead. It’s a much better option as it has a very low glycemic index. This means that it is low in sugars and starch. In fact, Basmathi has the lowest amount of sugars out of all the rice in the world.

Avoid: Short grain and calrose rice. The stickier the rice, the higher the sugar content.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

2. Stevia Leaf Extract

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually still enjoy sweet things if you’re diabetic. The trick is to choose desserts and drinks made with artificial sweeteners. One artificial sweetener that’s suitable for diabetics is Stevia extract.

Unlike other sweeteners, this one comes directly from natural sources rather than processed chemicals. Nowadays you can find chocolate and soft drinks flavored with Stevia, especially in health shops and pharmacies.

Avoid: Pure refined sugar in anything, including cakes and drinks.

Image credit: Mike Mozart@Flickr

3. Avocado

Avocado is a pretty versatile fruit that’s nutty tasting and not sweet. Most often, people mash it up to eat on toast or cut it into cubes to put into salad. It can also be turned into guacamole, a dip that’s great for for anything crispy. Avocado is high in vitamins and minerals, with very low calories. Make sure you learn the tricks on how to spot a ripe one.

Avoid: Starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams. Avocado can be used to replace many of these root vegetables in a recipe.

Image credit: Kjokkenutstyr Net@Flickr

4. Veggie Chips

If you’re the type that likes to munch on potato chips while watching TV or surfing the net, then you’ll be glad to know that there are low carb alternatives. Some of the these include corn chips, flaxseed chips, hummus crisps, lentil chips, soy tortilla and many more. All of these can be ordered online from health food stores or bought at your local supermarket.

If you want to take it a step further, make your own vegetable chips from veggies like radish, carrots, butternut squash and zucchinis. Slice them thin and bake them till they’re crisp.

Avoid: Potato chips and other chips made with other starchy root vegetables.

Image credit: Clean Eating Veggie Girl


5. Butternut Squash Noodles

If you have some time on your hands and are craving some noodles, just cut a butternut squash in half and pop it in the oven. Leave it in until the flesh becomes soft. Next, use a fork and scrape out the flesh. Voila! You have yourself some noodles.Top it off with some white cream sauce or tomato based sauce for a quick dinner.

Avoid: Too much pasta. Once or twice a week is fine but not more than that.

Image credit: One Green Planet

6. Almond Bread

Almond bread is made with crushed almond flour.Being a nut, it has a very low carbohydrate count compared to regular breads made with wheat flour. If you can’t find almond bread in your local bakery, try making your own. Almond flour is pretty easy to find in any bakery supply shop. Almond bread is usually softer than normal bread and uses eggs to hold the flour together.

Avoid: Breads and buns made with wheat flour.

Image credit: Alpha@Flickr


Don’t give up

Your diet as a diabetic isn’t all about avoiding things and suppressing your cravings. Instead, it’s about finding the right replacements. Remember to also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.


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