What You Need to Know About Diet for Diabetes

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The diabetic meal should consist of high fibre, low fat and protein. Fruits and vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and therefore should be consumed. The key is to balance your plate. A simple guideline, your plate should consist of:

  • 50%: non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, green beans)
  • 25%: starches (whole wheat, brown rice, beans, oats)
  • 25% protein

A diabetic is recommended to have 3 meals and 2 sugar free snacks every day.

Diet for Diabetes: 4 Healthy Ways to Choose Foods

Generally speaking, the diet for diabetes should be low in fat, sugar, salt, and carbohydrates. Also, the diet should be high in vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.

1. Choose whole food instead of processed food.
The advantages of whole foods (e.g brown rice) over the processed food (e.g refined rice) are they have more fibre that helps diabetics to achieve the 25 – 30 grams of daily recommended fibre by ADA (American Diabetes Association).

To increase fibre intake, incorporate high fibre breakfast cereal without sugar, eat more vegetables, beans, peas in your daily diet. The high fibre content present in these foods helps prevent a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.

2. Choose the low glycemic index (GI) foods.
A good way to start is to go for low-GI foods and avoid high-GI ones. The GI gives values from 0 to 100, according to how fast a food raises blood sugar. High-GI foods (like white bread) are rapidly digested and cause significant spikes in blood sugar, while low glycemic foods are more slowly digested and produce more gradual elevations in insulin levels and does not cause a sudden raise in blood sugar level.

GI Foods List

For your reference, below is the tabulated GI-Foods according to a new study from The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent health-research organization. 

Low GI-Foods (<55) Medium GI-Foods (56-69) High GI- Foods
Skim milk
Plain Yogurt
Soy beverage
Sweet potato
Oat bran bread
Converted or Parboiled rice
Pumpernickel bread
Al dente (firm) pasta
Lentils/kidney/baked beans
Chick peas
New potatoes
Split pea or green pea soup
Brown rice
Basmati rice
Shredded wheat cereal
Whole wheat bread
Rye bread
Dried dates
Instant mashed potatoes
Baked white potato
Instant rice
Corn Flakes
Rice Krispies
Bagel, white
Soda crackers
French fries

For medium GI-foods like Banana, pineapple can be taken once in a while in small quantities

3. Knows About the myth of sugar free.
There is a misconception that if something is sugar-free, it is safe to eat all you want. The truth is the foods still have carbohydrates, and some of them actually have more carbohydrates than the normal foods they intend to substitute.

Sugar or sweet consumption is not directly related to the development of diabetes mellitus. Sedentary lifestyle and the inactivity of the body can lead to weight gain. If you over consumed sugar, you are prone to weight gain and increase the blood sugar level. Weight gain, family history and stress are risk factors for developing diabetes.

4. Add more spices into your foods.
Some spices, herbs, and seasonings may help blood sugar levels. Some of the examples are basil, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric. Cinnamon in particular is said to be helpful in slowing sugar uptake and helping to make insulin receptors more effective.


Diet for Diabetes - The Preferred Cooking and Food Preparation Techniques

Cooking Techniques:

  • Low fat food can be delicious and enjoyed by your family. The 4 healthy ways are boiling, baking, stewing and roasting.
  • You can microwave, broil, grill, stir fry, barbecue or steam food with minimal salt or fat.
  • Use non-stick cookware and cook on a low flame.
  • Replace saturated fat (palm oil) with monounsaturated fats (mustard, olive, rapeseed oils) and polyunsaturated fats (sunflower and safflower oils).

Healthy Ways to Prepare and Consume Foods for Diabetics

For Vegetables:

  • Cook or steam vegetables with little water, do not overcook as it will break down the fibres.
  • Spice up the recipes with chopped onion, garlic, tomato or lime juice.

For Fruits:

  • Fresh or raw fruits choice is preferred over the fruit juice.
  • The fruit juice gives you only sugar and it has less or no fibre content. For apples and pears, do not peel off the skin.

For Milk Products

  • Drink skimmed, non fat or low fat milk.
  • Consume low fat cheese or yoghurt.

For Meat

  • Consume more fish.
  • Cook the meat without skin (e.g chicken), and remove as much fat as possible.
  • Avoid fatty meats like bacon, mutton and sausages.
  • Have egg white.
  • Add or spinkle some herbs or spices to the meat (e.g garlic, ginger, thyme).
  • Avoid seasoning that is high in salt or sugar (e.g mustard, ketchup and salad dressing).

These changes are definitely not an overnight process. However, “thousands miles of journey begins with a single step". A small change everyday can add up to a big, tremendous change over time. The more you can control diabetes, the less control diabetes will have over you. So start with the little change on diet for diabetes today!


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