Health Care

Diabetes 'Super Foods'

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fruits vegetables beans

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for everyone but especially important for people living with type 1 diabetes. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy your favorite foods.

Making healthy food choices and eating consistent amounts regularly can help control your sugar levels. It can also lower your chance of diabetes-related problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Cut Back on Unhealthy Fats

People with T1D need to eat less unhealthy fat, such as saturated fats you find in meats like bacon and regular ground beef.

It's also important to cut back on full-fat dairy like whole milk and butter.

Add Fiber to Your Diet

Eating more fiber may help control your blood sugar. You can get fiber from whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Try to get 25-30 grams a day.

Counting Carbs

Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy. You get them from many foods, like grains (pasta, bread, crackers, and cookies), fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and sugars.

Carbs raise your blood sugar levels faster than any food. How many and what type of carbohydrate foods you eat can affect how well you manage your diabetes. Counting carbs helps you keep track of how many carbs you eat. You can work with your doctor or a dietitian to determine how many grams of carbs you should eat for each meal and snack. You can use the food label, a food exchange app, or other references to count up the grams of carbs in foods.

Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

Be aware that many sweet foods have a lot of carbs, which can affect your blood sugar. If a food is "sugar-free," that doesn't mean it also has fewer carbs or calories. Read the label so you can count how many carbs you're getting.

Also, look for hidden sources of sugar. Sugar can hide in foods under many names, including corn syrup, fructose, and dextrose. Being aware of sugar's multiple identities can help shoppers make safer choices. In addition, you may want to consider foods and drinks that use low-calorie or artificial sweeteners.

T1D Super Foods

The American Diabetes Association suggests you eat foods low in carbs (also known as low glycemic index foods). They're also high in key nutrients like calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and other vitamins.

The following foods are considered "super foods" for people living with T1D.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Beans
  • Citrus fruit
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon)
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts

Remember, you don't have to give up the foods you love; just limit the foods you know will impact your glucose level. Planning your meals and eating regularly are keys to keeping levels in range.

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