Diabetic Diet Plan Do’s and Don’ts

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Filed Under: Blood Sugar, Diabetes
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

Diabetic Diet Plan Do’s and Don’ts

Learn why your diabetic diet plan should follow glycemic load guidelines.

Because everything you eat affects your glucose levels, properly managing your diet is key to preventing and controlling diabetes.

However, choosing the right foods can be confusing. White rice is a no-no, but what about brown? Are you better off eating a carrot or an apple?

Let me give you a simple rule to follow, which ought to eliminate all the confusion and help you plan snacks and meals that don’t adversely affect your blood sugar level.

Know How Fast Your Food Becomes Glucose

The secret to a good diabetic diet plan is becoming aware of how quickly your body breaks down those foods into glucose. There are a couple of tools you can use to do this:

  • Glycemic index (GI). This is a numerical rating of how quickly foods are metabolized into glucose. Foods with a high GI, such as refined carbohydrates and sugars, are rapidly turned into glucose, driving up blood sugar levels just as quickly. On the other hand, vegetables, legumes and most fruits cause a slow, sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream. They’ll keep your blood sugar (and your insulin level) from spiking and provide a sustained source of energy.
     
  • Glycemic load index (GL). Glycemic load is based on the same concept as the GI, but it takes into account the quality and quantity of a food. It’s determined by the GI of a food plus the amount of available, or net, carbohydrates (fiber excluded) in a standard serving.

Which is better?

Let the Glycemic Load Be Your Guide

I’m giving the nod to GL, and here’s why. Some foods with a high GI actually have minimal effects on blood sugar levels when eaten in normal quantities, while others with a low GI are potentially problematic.

For example, a large carrot and a cup of spaghetti have similar GIs. Yet that carrot contains only 5 g of available carbs (it’s mostly water), while the spaghetti contains 38 g, giving them GLs of 2 and 16, respectively. Therefore, they have dramatically different effects on blood sugar.

Carrots, watermelon, pineapple and other fruits with a high GI once thought to be inappropriate for those minding their glucose levels turn out to be acceptable, while the GL confirms the need to cut out pasta, bagels and other starchy, carbohydrate-dense foods.

Meal-Planning Tips

To help you get started with your meal planning, refer to this GI/GL table of common foods.

You can quickly lower your glycemic load by eating more salads, green vegetables, beans, and legumes. And another small secret is that eating a modest amount of healthy fats and moderate portions of lean protein with each meal can help to “cancel out” high glycemic foods, even in a single dish!

Here are some additional dietary “Dos and Don‘ts” for diabetic diet planning to controlblood sugar levels and reverse diabetes:

Do:
Don't:
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