A healthy diet designed to prevent or control diabetes is really no different than any other healthy diet. The most significant risk factor for contracting diabetes is being overweight, especially if the weight is being carried around the abdomen as a "spare tire." Several studies have suggested that waist size is a better indicator of potential risk for diabetes than the body mass index.
Eating right is the #1 defense against diabetes. While exercise is important, diet is the most important factor regarding weight loss. It's untrue that you have to cut out every bit of sugar and it's also a myth that a high-protein diet is best since too much protein, especially animal protein, has been shown to promote insulin resistance. You also don't have to cut out all carbohydrates. A healthy diet is a balanced diet consisting of fats, carbs and protein. The secret is to eat the correct types of these foods. Carbohydrates, for instance, should consist of whole grains because they contain essential fiber that slows the digestion of, and therefore the release of carbs (sugars) into the bloodstream, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates have the biggest impact on diabetes risk - much more so than proteins or fats. You should limit consumption of refined carbs such as white rice and bread, pasta, snack foods, sodas and candy. Slow-release, high-fiber, complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and help blood sugar levels stay more even and allow the body to produce less insulin. They also make you feel fuller for longer and provide more long-lasting energy.
Here are some suggestions you may want to incorporate into your diet:
- Instead of white bread, try whole-grain bread such as a whole-wheat
- Replace white rice with brown or wild rice
- Eat high-fiber breakfast cereal such as Raisin Bran instead of the high-sugar alternatives
- Replace instant oatmeal with rolled or steel-cut oats
- Use whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta
- Replace cornflakes with bran flakes
- Opt for green leafy vegetables instead of peas and corn
- Replace your white potatoes, French fries and mashed spuds with yams (or sweet potatoes), squash or a mash made from cauliflower