The Best Foods to Help Control Your Diabetes

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Ask those who suffer from it. Diabetes can be a very uncomfortable and unsightly condition to have to live with. You have to change your diet, lifestyle and you need to watch your blood sugar levels constantly. You have to keep certain parts of your body in balance. If one of those systems gets out of whack your whole health is thrown into disarray. Diabetes could be fatal if it’s left untreated. There have been cases of people losing their eyesight in one eye because they wouldn’t listen to the diabetic symptoms their bodies were screaming at them. One case the person lost the sight in his left eye because it wasn’t socially acceptable to admit he had diabetes. He woke up to the reality but it was too late he lost the sight in his left eye. The tragic part is he could have prevented that blindness from taking the left eye. This is all to say that there is hope in treating diabetes with the proper diet and choosing the right foods to incorporate into that diet. There are plenty of healthy foods one might eat who has diabetes.

The Illustrious Apple

Mr. apple to the rescue again. Apples are supposedly able to help control diabetes. Apples truly are nature’s wonder food because they have so many health benefits. Apples should be at the core of your diet because they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber content. The fiber content in one apple is 4 grams which is enough to fill any ordinary stomach. Apples also fight bad cholesterol and fight sugar mood-swings which can be damaging to the body. Two brands of apples (Red Delicious and Granny Smith) are listed in the top ten fruits as having the best antioxidant properties. The best effects are derived from eating apples whole and unpeeled. If you want to dress up your apple then make a quick baked apple by putting it in a bowl and sprinkling it with cinnamon. Microwave it for about 4 minutes or until it’s soft. Enjoy it with yogurt and oat bran sprinkles for breakfast or for a filling breakfast.

Avocado Anyone

This green wonder is loaded with monounsaturated fat which helps to slow digestion and prevent sugar spikes after a meal keeping blood sugar levels under control. A diet high in good fats may even  help reverse insulin resistance which equates to stabilized blood sugar long term. Try using mashed avocados on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on a piece of bread instead of butter. If you can stomach this alternative it’s a healthy option. T preserve the leftovers spritz the flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice.

Barley Beast     

It’s claimed that that barley is much better than white rice as a side dish. This because barley may reduce the blood sugar by 70% after a meal. This translates into a lower blood sugar levels and steadier levels for hours. The soluble fiber and other compounds in barley may dramatically slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate. Brown rice can’t compare and you can use Barley in soups, serve it as a side dish, or make it the basis for a stir-fry or casserole. Pearled, hulled, or quick-cooking varieties are all very good choices.

Bean Buster

When planning meals you may want to think about  incorporating beans into the menu about twice a week. Whether it be kidney beans or lima beans the soluble fiber in all beans is supposed to control blood sugar levels. Beans are so rich in protein they are able to stand in for meat as a main dish. They may not be a filling dish though to stand up as a main dish. Watch the sodium content and always washed canned beans. To save time cook the beans in a pressure cooker because the beans will become tender in 10 to 15 minutes when they are soaked.

Beef Buddies    

They say beef is a friendly diabetic food if they are served as the leanest cut and it only takes up ¼ of your plate. You want to get enough protein at mealtime because it will keep you full and satisfied. It also helps maintain muscle mass while you are losing weight so your metabolism stays at a high functioning level. The skinniest beef cuts are eye of round, inside round, ground round, tenderloin, sirloin, flank steak, and filet mignon.  For other cuts you want cut out the leanest parts with start by freezing the meat for 20 minutes this in turn will make it easier to slice the fat from the actual lean meat. Lean cuts can be tenderized and the meat can be made more flavorful by soaking them in any mixture which has vinegar, wine, or citrus juice. The acid softens them up.

Berries Bursting with Flavor   

This might be a stretch but it has been suggested that berries can be thought of as nature’s M&M’s because they are sweet, convenient, colourful, and satisfying. Berries are full of fiber and antioxidants. The red and blue types contain natural plant compounds called anthocyanins  ( a blue, violet, or red flavonoid pigment found in plants.)  Scientists believe these compounds can lower blood sugar levels by boosting insulin. This is speculative at this juncture and more research need to be done to confirm this belief. Put some berries where you can grab them easily and either use them as ice cubes or you can suck on them.   

Broccoli Blizzard  

Here is broccoli showing up as a healing  agent for diabetes. Broccoli may not be humanity’s favorite food but it is rich with healthy benefits. It’s fibrous, filling and loaded with antioxidants. (One serving will give you a day’s worth of vitamin C) It is rich in Chromium which may help in long-term blood sugar control. If you  already hate it, either camouflage it in soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles, or sauté it with garlic, soy sauce, and mustard, or dark sesame oil (or any combination thereof) for a taste you’ll surely appreciate.

Carrots an Eye Opener

Contrary to popular belief carrots don’t raise blood sugar levels quickly. The type of sugar carrots contain does translate into blood sugar quickly but the sugar levels in carrots are extremely low. So the raise in blood sugar levels will be insignificant. This is good news because carrots are very rich in beta-carotenes which are linked to a lower risk of diabetes and better blood sugar level control. Are you tired of raw carrot sticks then make some carrot fries. Slice the carrots into thin slices and then scatter them on a baking sheet. Flavouring the carrot strips with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400°F (200°C) for 40 minutes.

Your Choice of Chicken or Turkey     

It depends on the cut of the meat  which you will get either healthy fare or a truckload of cholesterol in other words the meat will be dripping with fat. Breast meat whether ground or whole is always lower in fat than dark meat such as thighs and drumsticks. Make sure you buy ground turkey and that the package says ground turkey breast. This type of turkey sounds very unappetizing but it’s supposed to be healthy for you. If the turkey package doesn’t say ground on it you might as well be buying hamburger. There is nothing wrong with eating hamburger. If you stick to these types of lean meat you will sustain a helathy dose of protein.    

Eggs are another inexpensive source of high quality protein

Eggs Sunnyside Up

Eggs are another inexpensive source of high quality protein the protein in eggs is supposed to be so high that nutritionist’s use eggs as the standard for high quality high protein foods. Everything is measured by the egg so it is said. An egg or two won’t hurt you by raising your cholesterol and it will keep you full for hours afterward. You can jazz up the preparation of an egg by spraying your frying pan with cooking spray. If you want to flip the egg wait until the white part of the egg bubbles then pull the pan toward you and flick your wrist. The egg should now be upside down.

Go Fishing

One of the deadliest complications of diabetes is heart disease but if you eat fish once a week it can reduce your risk for heart disease by 40% so it’s claimed. This is according to a Harvard School of Public Health study. The fatty acids in fish reduce inflammation in the body which is a major contributor to coronary disease as well as diabetes and insulin resistance. An exhaustive study done by Harvard researchers on fish concluded that eating fish far outweighs the risk of eating fish.

Flaxseed

Here we are with flaxseed again. Yes this is your common bird feed. Flaxseed which are tiny brown seeds are supposed to help fight diabetes because they are rich in fiber, good fat, (is there good fat?) and protein. They are also a source of magnesium which is a mineral that plays a key role in controlling blood-sugar because it helps cells use insulin. Ground flaxseed spoils easily so by flaxseed in bulk and grind the seeds as needed. Sprinkle on cereal, yogurt, or ice cream or blend into meat loaf, meatballs, burgers, pancakes, and breads. It works in just about anything including bird feeders so the birds can stay healthy too.

Milk and Yogurt     

Milk and yogurt are loaded are rich in protein and calcium which studies have shown will help people lose weight. Diets that include plenty of dairy may fight insulin resistance a major cause of diabetes. Go low-fat or fat free but if you don’t like the taste of skim milk try 1% milk because it’s a little creamier and thicker than skim. Greek-style reduced fat yogurt tastes richer than its Canadian counterparts because of the way it is made. You can put honey on the yogurt.

Nuts and more Nuts  

Nuts are high in fiber and protein and thus are slow-burning that are supposed to be good for blood sugar. Nuts contain a lot of fat which is supposed to be a healthy kind of fat- monounsaturated fat. Roasting brings out the flavor in nuts and they can be a nice addition to soups and entrées. Just spread shelled nuts on a cooking sheet and bake at 300°F (150°C) for 7 to 10 minutes.

Seeds, Seeds and more Seeds     

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are rich in good fats, protein and fiber. These elements supposedly work together to keep blood sugar low and fight off heart disease. They are also a natural source of cholesterol sterols which are the same compounds added to low-cholesterol margarine. You can fill up a little altoid can full of seeds and  carry them with you in case you have an emergency snack need. Or if you desire tell the waitress to hold the croutons on your salad and sprinkle pumpkin seeds or some other type of seed on the salad.

Oatmeal   

Oatmeal is very good for you because it’s loaded with fiber when mixed with water forms a paste.  As it sticks to the bowl it will form a gummy barrier between the digestive enzymes in your stomach and the starch molecules in your meal. So it takes the body longer to convert the carbs you have eaten into blood sugar. If you don’t like to eat oatmeal in the morning then you can buy oat flour and use it as a thickener in stews, casseroles, or soups. Or you can add ground oatmeal to muffin, pancake, and waffle batters.

Grand Olive Oil  

This stuff is supposed to be golden oil because it contains anti-inflammatory properties that are so strong that researchers liken it to aspirin so they say. This may be why people who follow a Mediterranean diet which encompasses olive oil along with produce, whole grains, and lean meat may explain why they have such low rates of heart disease and diabetes, both of which are linked with inflammation. Unlike butter, the good fat in olive oil don’t increased insulin resistance and may help to reverse it. This hasn’t been proven clinically to be the case though. In fact there have been no studies conducted to verify this assumption. A bit of olive oil is supposed to slow digestion which may alleviate a glucose spike. You can sprinkle it on salads, baked potatoes, pasta, just about anything.

Thick and Gooey Peanut Butter

One study suggests that peanut butter may dampen the appetite for up to two hours longer than a low-fibre, high-carb snack, which could mean peanut butter can help one lose weight. It is s aid that the monounsaturated fats in peanut butter can help control blood sugar this remains to be seen. Here is a quick peanut dip recipe to be used with raw or steamed vegetables:Bring 2/3 cup water to boil in a saucepan, stir in 1/3 cup creamy Peanut Butter, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh-grated ginger, 2 medium chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a dash of chili powder. Simmer 2 minutes, remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Wait until it cools, then start dipping!   

Are you a big fan of whole-grain bread

The Grainiest Bread

Are you a big fan of whole-grain bread? You may if you choose to switch to whole grain bread from white bread. Supposedly eating white bread (there is absolutely no current studies to support this claim) White bread is said to be unhealthy because eating it is like eating table sugar when it comes to raising blood sugar levels. Maybe and this is a big maybe switching to whole grain bread will lower your sensitivity to insulin. One study conducted with 1000 men and women found that when they ate whole grain bread it made their bodies more sensitive to insulin. It was claimed to have steadied blood-sugar levels as well. This is one study that has produced these results. If but whole grain bread be sure the package says “whole” on it. You should look for the coarsest bread you can find. It is claimed that coarse whole bread will slow digestion. There is no clinical support to confirm this assertion.

The Finale   

If you are among the multitude of people who suffer from diabetes these foods may help you bring diabetes under control. You can take your life back and control the diabetes so the diabetes will not control you. In some cases these foods may help reduce some of the serious risks caused by diabetes. You aren’t alone there is help out there for you. Don’t leave your diabetes undiagnosed or untreated. If you have any inkling you may have developed diabetes consult your doctor immediately it could make all the difference in the world. The earlier you seek treatment for diabetes the better chance you have of keeping it from getting out of control and ruining your life. You can start by checking out some of the foods discussed in this article.   

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.