Decoding the diabetic diet
A focus on carb- and portion-control should be top priority, but that doesn't mean the occasional treat is out of the question
A crucial tool in controlling diabetes is being vigilant about what you put in your mouth. But, some experts say, you don't have to be a slave to the glycemic index or banish cake and ice cream forever.
The primary goal for diabetics is to regulate their blood glucose (sugar) levels because they can't rely on their bodies to naturally produce enough insulin, the hormone that shuttles glucose from the bloodstream into cells. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin, while with Type 2, the pancreas progressively makes less and less insulin or the body has difficulty using it (known as insulin resistance).
Left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to long-term organ damage, resulting sometimes in heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney failure, foot amputation or death, studies show.
Anyone with diabetes should meet with a dietitian to formulate a meal plan tailored to their particular needs, experts say. But there are some general best practices.
Carbohydrate-rich foods, which break down into glucose during digestion, are of principal concern in a diabetic's diet. Those who use mealtime insulin injections — usually Type 1 diabetics and some Type 2 diabetics — typically have to count the grams of carbohydrates they eat at each meal so that they can give themselves the appropriate insulin dose.
But carbs are not the enemy or the only factor.
"What matters most is how much people eat," said certified diabetes educator Marion Franz, a Min Continue reading