Weighing In: What Should I Limit on a Diabetic Diet?

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Question: Dear Heather, I am a diabetic, what should I look out for when choosing food, carbohydrates, calories, sodium, glucose or all of the above? I know I should eat lots of fruits and vegetables but my doctor says I shouldn’t eat bananas, onions, and tomatoes because they have too many of their own sugars, can you please explain?

    Heather: New diets can be very confusing and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you should be eating. The good news is that with a little practice and some planning a diabetes diet is very manageable.

    Carbohydrates are the main things to be aware of when choosing foods. Carbohydrates serve as the main energy source for the body. During digestion they are broken down into blood sugar and so too many or too few carbohydrates can cause your blood glucose levels to spike or drop. It is important to include them in your diet. In fact 50 to 60 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrate sources - but they should come from healthy sources. For optimal blood sugar control, most of your carbohydrate should come from:
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    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Low-fat dairy products

    Eating the same amount of carbohydrates each day helps control blood sugar. It is also important to spread your carbohydrate-rich foods throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels consistent. If you have diabetes, you should not skip any meals and should eat at regular intervals throughout the day. This will help prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low.

    It is also important to avoid eating high sugar foods like cakes, cookies and regular soda. These foods are filled with added sugars and have virtually no nutritional value. Foods that are high in sugar will cause your blood glucose to spike and then fall rapidly and inhibit good glucose control

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure why your doctor told you to avoid bananas, tomatoes and onions. He may have been thinking about glycemic index when he made this recommendation. Carbohydrates can also be classified according to the glycemic index. This classification measures how fast and how high blood sugar rises after a carbohydrate is consumed. Foods that have a high glycemic index cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. These foods include white bread and pasta, and other simple carbohydrates. Whole grains, or complex carbohydrates, have a low glycemic index because they are digested more slowly resulting in a less drastic spike in blood sugar.

    Diets with large amounts of high glycemic foods have been linked to an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. Whereas low glycemic foods have been shown to help control type 2 diabetes.
Published On: October 29, 2007