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Diabetic Diet Guidelines

Diabetic Diet Guidelines and Advice

A diabetes diet is a healthy eating plan that produces significant weight loss and improves nutrition—not just for diabetic patients, but for anyone. Regardless of a person’s age, weight, or health condition, adopting a diet that focuses on fruits and vegetables, while reducing fats and heavy carbohydrates will help anyone lose weight. For diabetic patients, it also helps moderate blood glucose levels.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder of The Center for Medical Weight Loss, the largest network of weight loss physicians in the US, has treated hundreds of  patients whose diabetes improved —and in many cases, completely reversed — after following a personalized diabetic weight loss program.

Read more about the ADA diabetic diet plan.

Diabetic diet specifics

Dr. Kaplan believes that a successful diabetic diet is not just about lowering calorie intake, but in choosing the right kind of calories over the wrong kind. The list below illustrates some of right kind of foods to include in a diabetes diet:

  • Good carbohydrates: Simple carbs (sugars) and complex carbs (starches) cause blood glucose levels to skyrocket. But not all foods with carbs are bad. Choose foods with healthy carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and beans.
  • Focus on fiber: Foods containing fiber help lower glucose levels and increase heart health.
  • Fish over meat: Fish like tuna, cod, and halibut have less saturated fat than poultry and meat. Salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which lowers fatty triglycerides in the blood.
  • Can fats be good for you? Not all fats are bad for you. Monosaturated and polysaturated fats actually help lower your cholesterol. Eaten in moderation, avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives, and olive oils can all be good for you.

Foods to forget on a diabetic diet

Diabetic patients should avoid foods that clog arteries and increase the chance of developing heart problems. Steer clear of these dangerous diabetic diet choices:

  • Saturated fats: Bacon, sausage, beef, hot dogs, high-fat dairy.
  • Trans fats: Take the plunge and cut out processed foods, baked foods, and margarine products.
  • Cut cholesterol and sodium: Don’t go over 200 mg of cholesterol per day. 2000 mg of sodium each day is TOO much. Watch out for salty foods!

Carbohydrates equal glucose

Diabetes patients should not avoid carbohydrates entirely. It’s essential, however, that they monitor the timing, and limit the amount of carbs they consume each day.

What’s the ‘Exchange System’?

A weight loss specialist may recommend what is known as the exchange system, which organizes different food types into categories, allowing for foods from one category to be exchanged for foods from another category. Categories include carbohydrates, meats, and fats. One serving from each group can be “exchanged” for another—as long as it has the same amount of carbs, protein, fats, and calories. Each serving is calculated to have the same effect on the glucose level of a patient therefore it is safe to exchange one for another.

Glycemic index (GI)

High GI foods are usually connected with high blood sugar. But be wary of some low GI foods as well, as they may be high in fat.

Still not sure about the daily menu that will work best for you? The diabetes diet specialists at The Center for Medical Weight Loss have advised and treated thousands of patients with similar questions.  With over 450 centers across the U.S., they are the largest group of weight loss physicians in the country. To find out if there is a center near you, enter your zip code in the Find a Center box above, or if you have a question you’d like answered by a physician, use the form to the right.