When you have diabetes, controlling it largely boils down to watching what you eat. Your food choices and habits are of great importance in managing diabetes. You must watch what you eat, but can also reward yourself with occasional treats in small quantities.

Foods to take

Starches – Opt for whole grains such as oatmeal, millet, brown rice, quinoa, or amaranth; baked sweet potato and dishes cooked with whole grains and no or very little sugar

Vegetables – Vegetables are a great choice if consumed correctly as they provide a lot of fiber and minimal fat or salt. Fresh veggies, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled; plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed. Go for a variety of colors: dark greens such as methi, spinach; red or orange such as carrots or red peppers; whites such as radish or onions and even purple such as eggplants.

Fruit – Fruit provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While they are naturally low in fat and sodium, they tend to have more carbohydrates than vegetables do. Ideal choices include fresh fruit, plain frozen fruit or canned fruit with no sugar added, sugar-free or low-sugar jam, preserves or applesauce.

Protein – Healthy protein choices include plant-based proteins, such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu; fish and seafood; chicken and other poultry, preferably breast meat; eggs and low-fat dairy. If you are a meat eater, keep it low in fat, trim the skin off poultry. Also try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu to get nutrients and fiber that aren’t in animal products.

Dairy – The key to health dairy diet for diabetes is to keep it low in fat or indulge in very small portions. Best food choices include skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt, paneer, sour cream.

Fats, Oils and Sweets – As tempting as these foods are, its best to resist to manage diabetes easily. Few options are natural sources of vegetable fats in small portions, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados; foods that give you omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel, limited quantities of plant-based oils such as canola, grapeseed, or olive oils.

Foods to avoid

Starches – Avoid foods containing processed grains or sugars such as white flour, cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar, white bread, french fries, fried white-flour tortillas

Vegetables – Potatoes and corn are not recommended as they count as carbs. Iceberg lettuce is not as great either, because it’s low in nutrients. If you’ve been advised low sodium, avoid canned vegetables, pickles. Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce could also be unhealthy choices.

Fruit – Preserved and canned fruit or fruit products are strictly avoidable as they are very high in sugar. Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup; chewy fruit rolls; regular jam, jelly, and preserves; sweetened applesauce; fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks are all poor choices for diabetics.

Protein – Poor protein choices for diabetes would include foods rich in fat such as fried meats, higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs, pork bacon, regular cheeses, poultry with skin, deep-fried fish or tofu.

Dairy – Dairy products which are fat-rich such as whole milk; regular yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream are definitely poor choices for diabetics.

Fats, Oils and Sweets – Any foods with artificial trans-fats are not ideal for controlling diabetes. Even if the label says zero trans-fat, check for ‘partially hydrogenated’ which is also to be avoided. Also saturated fats which are normally present in animal products, coconut oil and palm oil are to be consumed in small portions.

This list is only indicative and may not be tailored to your diabetic needs. It is ideal to go for a detailed diabetic screening at your nearest Apollo Diagnostics to assess your glucose and blood sugar levels. Avail the services of a qualified consultant to arrive at a customized diet plan for your diabetic condition.

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