There are a lot of myths about the foods that diabetics should or shouldn’t eat. If you’ve been newly diagnosed with diabetes, you may hear a lot of input from your friends and family about which of these foods are good or bad for your disease. Unfortunately, much of the advice you’ll hear is just plain wrong and potentially dangerous. There’s a lot of bad info online too, so it’s time to set the record straight.
I can eat all of the fruit I want, because it’s a healthy food.
Well, not exactly. Yes indeed, fruit is a healthy choice. But fruit is a carbohydrate. All carbs, regardless of their source, are broken down in the body and converted into blood sugar for energy. Therefore, all carbs – like fruit, starches, breads, and milk – raise blood sugar. Yes, healthy carbs should be a regular part of your diet, but not in “all you want” quantities. The amount of carbs you eat at any given time should be monitored to avoid a dangerous spike in blood sugar.
I can eat anything I want as long as I take additional medicine
No. More food leads to weight gain, and extra body weight creates more insulin resistance, which requires… more medicine. Extra body weight may also increase blood pressure and elevate cholesterol levels. Your metformin, insulin, or other blood glucose medicine is meant to control your blood sugar, not indulge your overeating.
All white foods are bad for diabetics
No. The initial advice from your dietician when one develops diabetes is to reduce your consumption of potatoes, white flour products, white sugar, white pasta and white rice, to lower your blood glucose levels. It’s a simple leap to include all foods that are white. Unfortunately, healthy choices get thrown in there too, like milk, cauliflower, yogurt, bananas, and bean sprouts. These last foods are actually very healthy choices, but (as above), diabetics must always count their carbohydrates.
Diabetics should definitely substitute white rice for brown rice, white bread for whole wheat or whole grain, and white pasta for whole grain or whole wheat. Whole grains cause blood sugar to rise more slowly than their white flour counterparts, and whole grain products are higher in fiber and B vitamins. But even whole grain products are carbohydrates, and must be counted accordingly.
When it comes to food and diabetes, all things in moderation, even the healthy things.