The Right Diet

By By Dr. Nadeau

Categories: Diabetes Center

Dr. Nadeau is an accomplished physician who brings extensive experience to the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center as Program Director, Dr. Kris V. Iyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Care and Endocrinologist at Hoag Medical Group . While he has many areas of interest, the majority of his recent work, research, and lectures focus on diabetes, obesity, and nutrition.

Being diagnosed with diabetes does not mean that you can't enjoy some of your favorite foods and tasty treats. It can be as simple as using healthy alternatives, such as Truvia, meat alternatives, almond milk and whole grains. One important first step for successful diabetes management is to become informed about how certain foods affect blood sugar levels and create a nutrition plan with your diabetes care team.

There is no special diet for people with diabetes. All of us with diabetes, and even those without the condition, should try to have a healthy diet: a colorful, whole food, mainly plant-based diet. A family can sit together and enjoy fabulous foods and not worry about eating ‘special’ foods.

It’s important, however, to know the best and worst foods from each food group and how they impact those with diabetes.

If someone has type 1 diabetes, for example, it is especially important to be able to estimate carbohydrates, and for everyone with diabetes to be sure that those carbohydrates are unrefined and from whole foods. Refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flour, white sugar and foods made from them) are associated with a higher risk of diabetes

The American Diabetes Association considers a number of foods “diabetes super foods.” These tend to be low on the glycemic index (they do not increase blood sugar as much as other foods) and are chock full of beneficial nutrients. These super foods include:

  • Beans: Kidney, pinto, navy or black beans provide 1/3 of your daily fiber requirement in only ½ cup. They’re high in fiber and also good sources of magnesium and potassium.
  • Dark leafy greens: Spinach, collards, and kale contain few calories and carbohydrate and provide a good dose of vitamins A and C.
  • Citrus fruit: Grapefruit, oranges, lemon and limes pack soluble fiber and are loaded with vitamin C.

Other super foods include sweet potatoes, berries, tomatoes, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon (not breaded or fried), whole grains and nuts. Best protein choices include dried beans, lentils, nuts, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs and lean meats.