The foods you eat are your best friend or worst enemy when trying to control your blood sugar. Your goal is to prevent unhealthy highs and lows in blood sugar levels, resulting in the progression and/or prevention of diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, kidney problems and nerve damage. A dietitian will devise your diet based on the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein your doctor recommends; following this diet can save your life.
Complex carbs are high in fiber, which prevents rises in blood sugar by slowing the digestion and absorption of the sugar in the carbohydrate. Simple carbs do the exact opposite--their sugars absorb quickly, causing rapid increases in your blood sugar, resulting in instability of your glucose and possible diabetes complications in the future. Sources of complex carbs include oatmeal, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, dried peas, legumes, kidney beans and vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate in each meal until you can meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to develop a personal meal plan.
Protein is an important aspect of your diet. It is the building block of all tissues in your body, with the exception of fat tissue. Protein should account for 12 to 20 percent of your daily caloric intake; however, your dietitian may adjust this. Sources of protein include skinless chicken or turkey, and lean cuts of beef, lamb or pork. Saturated fats should account for no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. Consuming too much increases your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, both of which are complications of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Unsaturated fats can be good for you, lowering your risk of heart disease. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats are what you need; they come in the form of avocados, almonds, peanuts, cashews, olives, peanut butter and sesame seeds. Additional sources include oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean. Soft margarine and mayonnaise fall into this category too, explains the American Diabetes Association. Unsaturated fats should comprise less than 20 percent of your daily calories.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna and cod. In addition to being sources of omega-3 fatty acids, they also have unsaturated fats. These help protect against hardening of your arteries, which protects against heart disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating two or more servings of fish weekly. Omega-6 fatty acids protect against diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. You can find them in a number of foods, including flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine and pistachio nuts, raw sunflower seeds and olive oil. You can use supplements as well, such as primrose oil, black currant seed oil and borage oil.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.