Diabetic Diet Guidelines

By: EatingWell Editors

The nutrition experts at EatingWell recommend the following steps to help control blood glucose and prevent diabetes:

Lose weight. 
Extra fat can make your body resistant to the action of insulin. Losing weight improves insulin’s activity, which reduces blood-glucose levels. Research suggests that people at high risk for diabetes who lose as little as 5 percent of their body weight (i.e., about 10 pounds, if they weigh 200 pounds) can prevent or delay onset of the condition. The most effective approach, say experts, is a structured weight-loss program, such as The EatingWell Diet, that emphasizes lifestyle changes. 

Exercise regularly.
Studies show that physical activity improves the body’s response to insulin and helps lower blood-glucose levels. Aim to fit in 30 minutes of moderate activity—such as brisk walking—nearly every day.

Choose whole grains.
Selecting whole grains, such as whole-wheat breads and pastas, barley, corn and oats, over refined ones can help improve insulin sensitivity. Whole grains will help you meet your recommended daily intake for fiber (25 grams); they also provide more vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting nutrients than refined grains. 

Don’t skip meals.
Research suggests that eating breakfast increases insulin effectiveness in lowering blood-glucose levels, and eating regularly spaced meals also has a beneficial effect on insulin response.  Use good fats. Season dishes with moderate amounts of olive oil and the other "good fats" that make food tastier and more satisfying. At the same time, keep a watchful eye on saturated fat and trans fats. Limit saturated fats to less than 7 percent and trans fats to less than 1 percent of total calories; restrict cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg/day. Do this by limiting fatty meat and full-fat dairy products (which supply saturated fats and cholesterol) and processed foods (which tend to be packed with partially hydrogenated oils, a.k.a. trans fats).

Choose foods low on the glycemic index.
The glycemic index (GI) is a system of ranking foods that contain equal amounts of carbohydrates according to how much they raise blood-glucose levels. (The lower the GI number, the less the food boosts your blood sugar and the more diabetic-diet-friendly it is.) The GI is somewhat confusing and even a little controversial. But, in general, it does lead you to healthy foods. For example, vegetables, whole grains, beans and high-fiber foods tend to fall lower on the glycemic scale, while processed and refined foods and sweets are higher up.