What Can Diabetics Eat?

Nana B Agyei/CC-BY 2.0

The American Diabetes Association, or ADA, states that diabetics can enjoy a healthy and varied diet consisting of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nonfat dairy products, beans, lean meat and fish. The keys to health as a diabetic are balancing sugar intake with insulin and managing blood glucose levels with exercise. The ADA suggests counting carbohydrates, aiming for 45 to 60 grams per meal.

WebMD recommends managing blood glucose levels by eating foods low on the glycemic index, which measures how much impact foods have on blood sugar levels. As a rule of thumb, choose whole foods in different colors to ensure a varied diet. People with type 2 diabetes should focus on their fiber intake to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Diabetics shouldn’t overeat, warns WebMD, and they should try to maintain a healthy body weight. Excess body fat leads to greater insulin sensitivity among diabetics, so eating regular meals and snacks and avoiding skipping meals is important.

While common wisdom holds that sugar is not allowed in diabetic diets, WebMD states that sugar has been demonstrated to affect blood sugar no more than starches. If eating a sugary snack, an individual can remove something with a similar carbohydrate load to keep the diet balanced. Some diabetics prefer to eat artificial sweeteners, though the ADA cautions that too many of these can lead to gas and diarrhea.