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The Diabetic Diet Isn’t as Restrictive as You Might Think

Woman adding more omega 3 fatty acid to her dietFor someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, diet is going to be a primary concern moving forward. Some go as far as to remove all sugar from their diet. In fact, some people living with type 2 diabetes have been able to manage their condition without the need for medication by adapting a strict healthy lifestyle. But specialists say that these measures are not entirely necessary.

Linda Delahanty, the director of nutrition and behavioral research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center, recommends scaling back on portion size. This means that people who’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can still eat some bread and pasta in moderate portions.

It’s not surprising that this misconception about a diabetic diet has remained so widespread. The disease is difficult to manage, and people do have to monitor their diets closely. There’s an excellent infographic that was created a couple years ago to illustrate just how difficult it can be to manage your sugar intake. Just as in many aspects of our lives, balance or moderation is key.

Watching Carbohydrates and Calories

Scrutinizing food labels should be a routine part of grocery store trips– especially if you’re a diabetic. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The carbohydrates are just as important as the straight sugars (carbs are broken down into sugars during digestion).
  • Plenty of foods that are high in carbs also have a lot of protein, which makes the body absorb sugar at a slower rate.
  • Fat content is also very important, definitely with things like salad dressings or meals that include butter (olive oil contains 165 calories per tablespoon).

This brings us to the topic of calories. Clinical studies on diabetes have shown that many are overweight or obese. High levels of obesity have correlated strongly with the large number of prediabetics. This also means that simply losing weight could actually help balance out a person’s blood glucose level. Reducing caloric intake has an almost immediate effect on blood sugar. Delahanty can’t provide enough support for the benefits of weight loss and watching calories.

Say Goodbye to Sugary Drinks

Misconception Over Sugary DrinksYou might not be surprised to learn that sugary drinks like soda and sweet tea are two things that should be eliminated from a diabetic’s diet. That being said, you might be surprised that Delahanty recommends ditching all sugary drinks— including freshly squeezed fruit juices.

“They think you’re not supposed to drink Coke, but that fruit juice is OK. And that’s a big misconception,” says Delahanty.

These drinks pose a greater risk because the body will absorb sugar extracted from a fluid quicker than it will from the actual fruit. The average juicing process removes the fiber and pulp from the fruit (this makes it easier for the body to absorb the sugar into the bloodstream).

Here’s something else which may be intriguing: whole milk is better than low fat milk for diabetics. Whole milk has more fat which slows down the process of digestion and absorption of sugars. Smoothies are another sly culprit that should be avoided by people with type 2 diabetes. These beverages hit you with a double shot of sugar from the dairy and fruit.

Wine is Fine

Diabetics who are fans of wine will be pleased to know that this beverage is alright. The high sugar content of wine is neutralized by its alcohol content. The same principal applies for beer (high in carbohydrates) as well. Alcohol has been proven to help lower blood sugar over time– just remember moderation.

Last but not least, you don’t have to get infuriated at yourself it you slip up and forgo your dietary restrictions. Endocrinologists and other nutritionists try not to be over-restrictive when it comes to helping diabetics develop the best food plan to fit their needs.

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