It can be overwhelming to know what to eat when you are first diagnosed with diabetes, or if you are preparing meals for a family member or friend with diabetes. There are many foods that you should eat more of, and some of these are listed here.
Fill your plate with these ten great food ideas and you’ll never be short of healthy ingredients that fit your diabetes meal plan.
And there’s more good news – these foods will not only help with diabetes self-management, they’re also perfect healthy choices for all your family members and friends.
1. Sweet potatoes and/or yams:
These healthy starches are a great addition to the diabetes meal plate. They are much lower on the glycemic index (GI) than regular potatoes, so they digest much more slowly. This means they take longer to raise blood sugar levels. They are also delicious, whether oven-baked as chips, slow roasted or pureed. They also make fantastic soup.
2. Whole grain or rye bread:
These breads have a higher fibre content than white bread, and can help with blood glucose control. They are also the recommended choice for most people without diabetes. Check out our expert blog Grocery store tips for healthy shopping for breads.
3. Brown rice or whole grain pasta:
These carbohydrates have a higher fibre content than their more refined white counterparts. They promote overall health as well as helping to maintain blood glucose level targets. Our dietitian gives tips in Navigating the grocery store: the pasta aisle.
Beans and other legumes are an amazing source of soluble fibre, which slows down digestion and helps to avoid sudden climbs in blood glucose. Beans and pulses (like lentils, chickpeas and black-eyed peas) are also high protein, low-fat and rich in anti-oxidants. They are perfect for the whole family’s health goals.
Avocados are another food with lots of soluble fibre to slow down digestion. They are good for blood glucose control and also have lots of heart-friendly omega fats. You need to remember that they are also quite high in calories, which needs to be taken into consideration for weight maintenance planning. Learn more about the health benefits of avocados here.
Nuts offer great ways to get healthy fats and fibre into your diet. Most nuts are also good sources of the anti-oxidant vitamin E. Look for unsalted nuts for both snacks and meal ingredients. Good choices include almonds, peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts, amongst others. Get more tips about nuts from our dietitian here.
Oats are a wonderful source of soluble fibre and are recommended to help lower blood glucose levels. They are also recommended to help achieve healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Enjoy oat cereals or use them in baking. Learn more about the different types of oatmeal.
8. Salmon, trout or mackerel:
These fish are great sources of omega-3. They are also high in protein and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. If fresh fish isn’t an option, buy cans of salmon. You will always have a healthy protein on hand in your kitchen! Get more tips on purchasing fish from our dietitian in Navigating the grocery store for seafood.
9. Deeply coloured vegetables:
Thee vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, which have antioxidant properties. They also contain lots of healthy vitamins. Look for choices like tomatoes, sweet peppers, beetroot and deep green vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Make sure you always have some available by adding a couple of packs of frozen chopped spinach to your grocery cart. To learn more about how much and what type of vegetables to buy, check out Navigating the grocery store for vegetables.
10. Low-fat cream cheeses, sour cream, yogurt and milk:
Low-fat dairy products are still recommended since they have lower amounts of saturated fat which can increase the risk of heart disease. You’ll find dairy products a really useful addition to a variety of meals and snacks, and you’ll be getting healthy calcium and protein too. While low-fat foods seem like a healthy choice, it's important to be on the lookout for sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that may be added to these products. Learn more here.
In order to make healthier food choices, learn to navigate the various departments of the grocery store.