Eating Clean with Diabetes: An Overview and a Guide

Following a diabetes-friendly eating regimen can take many different forms: The Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and the Atkins plan are all recommended for helping to control blood sugar and support metabolic health.

Eating clean with diabetes simply means paying attention to the quantity and quality of your macronutrient intake (protein, fat, carbohydrates) and also choosing foods that support balanced blood sugar levels for optimal energy, safety and health.

Food Groups

Understanding how to eat from the main food groups will help you better manage your diabetes:

Grains

Grains are rich in carbohydrates and should be eaten minimally if you're diabetic. Some grains are more carb-heavy than others, so steer clear of "white" foods and opt for whole-grain versions of bread, pasta or rice.

Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits are high in sugar, which does not make them ideal for diabetes. However, fruits like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are naturally lower in sugar and can be eaten in moderation.

Clean eating also means paying attention to your vegetable consumption: aim to eat mostly leafy green vegetables like kale, romaine, arugula or chard. Root vegetables like carrots or potatoes have more carbohydrates and should therefore be eaten less frequently or paired with protein to reduce blood sugar spikes.

Ideally, opt for fresh and organic vegetables, as canned varieties can include added salt, sugar, or carbohydrates.

Proteins

Lean proteins from organic sources are the best bet for diabetes and overall health.

Eggs and nuts are also good protein options, but diabetics should be aware of calories and cholesterol, too.

Dairy

Low-fat dairy options can provide both protein and calcium. Opt for organic versions when possible.

Snacks

Processed snacks or junk food become a slippery slope for diabetics, and they don't fall into the category of "clean eating." Snacks should be more along the lines of cheese sticks, vegetables paired with dip, or fruit paired with yogurt.

Beverages

Clean eating with diabetes also means consuming beverages mindfully.

Diet soda is a better option than regular soda, but even better alternatives would be tea, coffee or water.

Alcoholic beverages like wine or spirits (plain, no mixers) are better options than beer or sugary cocktails.

Other Considerations

To truly eat clean, buying organic whenever possible is key, and it's also important to minimize consumption of processed foods and eat more whole foods.

To make sure you're eating clean, use the following strategies:

  1. Read labels: Most everything you eat should contain ingredients you can pronounce - otherwise you're probably looking at chemicals and additives.
  2. Shop at health food stores: Larger chain grocers tend to sell more processed foods, while your local health food store often has better choices for organic, whole foods.
  3. Prepare food wisely: Eating clean also means preparing your food mindfully. Cook with extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil, wash your fruits and vegetables to remove possible pesticide residue and fully cook your meat to avoid illness or contamination.

Source: GreenLite Medicine

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