People with diabetes are often bombarded by messages of what foods they can and can’t eat. Some of these messages can come from sources such as your diabetes doctor, a google search, a well-meaning family member, or even a complete stranger. Often, these messages can be contradictory and confusing. A common misconception is that individuals have to follow an extremely strict diet – when in fact people with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes eats.
1) People with diabetes should NEVER give in to food cravings
Food cravings happen with everyone. That’s part of being human. Often, people with diabetes will cut out sweets or cut down on portion sizes to help control their blood sugar better and lose weight. Your body often reacts to drastic changes by creating cravings. When you cut out something like your favorite candy, over time that candy is what you fixate on it until you give in. Once you eat that candy again, you can’t stop eating it in larger quantities and often this is termed as a binge. If you don’t choose to have the candy when your craving something sweet, you will choose something eventually that is high in fat and/or sugar.
The best way to honor food cravings is to not completely cut out what your craving. Following a healthy balanced diet while incorporating sweets occasionally will honor your craving while eating a appropriate serving. Remember, everything is good in moderation.
2) People with diabetes can’t eat foods with sugar such as fruit
Fruit contains many vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they also have a high natural sugar content. Consuming more than the recommend amount of fruit may add too much sugar to a diabetic meal plan, but it doesn’t mean you can’t eat any fruit. Choosing fresh fruit rather than dried fruit and limiting the intake of fruit juice can help with not over consuming “condensed” sugar. American Diabetes Association states that a small piece of whole fruit or about ½ cup of frozen/canned fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Servings for fresh berries and melons are about ¾ – 1 cup. Fruit juice can range from 1/3 -1/2 cup for 15 grams of carbs. Talk to your dietitian or certified diabetes educator about how many servings of fruit fit into your diabetic meal plan.
3) People with diabetes don’t have to worry about eating fat because it doesn’t have much of an effect on blood glucose
The kind of fat you eat can have an impact in regards to your heart health. Research has shown that diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats is more likely to increase someone’s risk for becoming diabetic. Some fats can raise blood cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. People with diabetes tend to have a higher risk for developing heart disease. This is related to high blood glucose over time from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.
Some fats can raise blood cholesterol thus increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. These fats are called saturated fat and trans-fat and should be limited when possible. Sources of saturated fats include: fatty red meat, butter, shortening, whole milk, cheese, and coconut. Trans fats can be found in fast food and some snacks. Check out the link heart on how to go heart healthy with your fats.