Healthy Diabetic Recipes

A healthy diabetic diet means more than just watching your sugars.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably mentioned that you should pay careful attention to nutrition and diet as part of your treatment program.  Since diabetes isn’t something we can be cured of, it’s important that we maintain a healthy diet in order to control the disease. Nutrition experts say that there is no one diet for diabetes, but people with diabetes should follow nutrition guidelines, while paying special attention to sugar and carbohydrate intake. People with diabetes should also eat about the same amount of food at the same time each day in order to keep blood sugar levels stable.

If you’ve never attempted to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet before your diabetes diagnosis, it can be difficult to know where to get started. Try these tips from the American Dietetic Association:

  • Eat more starches.

    starches such as bread, cereal, and starchy vegetables. Aim for six servings a day or more. For example, have cold cereal with nonfat milk or a bagel with a teaspoon of jelly for breakfast. Another starch-adding strategy is to add cooked black beans, corn or garbanzo beans to salads or casseroles.

  • Eat five fruits and vegetables every day.

    Have a piece of fruit or two as a snack, or add vegetables to chili, stir-fried dishes or stews. You can also pack raw vegetables for lunch or snacks.

  • Eat sugars and sweets in moderation.

    Include your favorite sweets in your diet once or twice a week at most. Split a dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth while reducing the sugar, fat and calories.

Soluble fibers are found mainly in fruits, vegetables and some seeds, and are especially good for people with diabetes because they help to slow down or reduce the absorption of glucose from the intestines. Legumes, such as cooked kidney beans, are among the highest soluble fiber foods available. Other fiber-containing foods such as carrots, also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. Insoluble fibers, found in bran, whole grains and nuts, act as intestinal scrubbers by cleaning out the lower gastrointestinal tract.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is very important for everyone with diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2. In treating type 2 diabetes, weight control is important because the extra body fat makes it difficult to make and use their own insulin. If you are overweight, losing just 10 to 20 pounds may improve your blood sugar control so much that you can stop taking or reduce your medication.

Weight control means not just watching sugars and carbohydrates, it means watching fats, sodium, and other ingredients that could cause our weight to fluctuate. The body breaks down different types of foods at different rates. Carbohydrates for example(be it potato or table sugar) typically take from five minutes to three hours to digest, whereas proteins can take three to six hours and fat can take eight or more hours.

When possible, adjust recipes by substituting healthier ingredients.  Wheat flour for white flour, herbs/spices for salt, etc.  Just about any recipe can easily be changed into healthy diabetic recipes.  See your doctor, nutritionist or dietitian for recommendations.

Be sure to check out some of our diabetic meal recipe sections on Cooking For Diabetics.