Food Alternatives for People with Diabetes**

By NutriBites guest writer Alison Woods

Any patient with diabetes knows how essential it is to make healthy choices, whether it means watching your diet or squeezing in more time for workouts. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to begin changing your diet without completely eliminating carbohydrates. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can never eat your favorite treats or savory dishes again. It only means that you need to prioritize portions and balance. That way, you don’t have to deprive yourself, while still managing your nutrition and weight.

Below, we list some easy substitutions you can make in your diet today.

Whole Fruits

Everyone loves a refreshing glass of juice, but it may not be the best way to get your fill of vitamins. In fact, most of the nutrients in fruits (such as fiber) tend to get stripped away during the juicing process. To reap the full benefits, eating them as whole fruits is the way to go. That way, you also avoid unnecessary sugars. Because fruits still have natural sugars in them, not all are advisable to eat for people with diabetes. Taste of Home recommends going for blueberries, bananas, avocados, and strawberries.

High-Fiber Grains

White rice is always a satisfying side-dish and good carbohydrate source. However, the reason why its color is so pasty is that it has been refined and had its fiber content stripped away during the process. If you have diabetes, fiber is an important nutrient, as the American College of Cardiology has found that it can help prevent blood sugar spikes. Instead of white rice, you can opt for whole grains, which are a healthier, equally filling alternative. Thankfully, they’re just as simple to prepare, as shown by the many easy-use appliances on We Know Rice. They can cook a multitude of grains in a snap—be it brown rice, black rice, quinoa, or even amaranth.

Steel-Cut Oats

Cereals are a breakfast staple in many places around the world. And while it’s a delicious way to start your day, they’re not always as healthy as they’re advertised. Often, they’re packed with too much sugar and not enough nutrients. A better option is to go for steel-cut oats, which are high in fiber and can prevent your insulin from spiking too quickly. Although they are different from instant oatmeal, steel-cut oats aren’t complicated to prepare, and only require a few minutes to cook.

Despite what most people may think, steel-cut oats can make for sumptuous meals, too. You can kick your oats up a notch by adding healthy and crunchy nuts or fruits, adding in more textures. Adding flavorful fruits is also a great way to sweeten your bowl of silver-cut oats. Tasty, nutritious, and easy to make – this should be in everyone’s diet, with or without diabetes.

Fresh or Lean Meats

Individuals with diabetes need protein too, but processed meats aren’t the best source, as they usually have high sodium and saturated fat content—thus putting you at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Meats you should avoid include sausages, luncheon meats, and bacon. Instead, go for fresh and lean meats and plant protein. Think cuts of meat that have been stripped of fat, skinless poultry, beans, and tofu. You may also use fish to hit your protein goals, as The American Diabetes Association actually recommends eating fish as a protein source at least twice a week.

Those with type 2 diabetes can benefit from salmon since it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, reducing the risk of common diabetes-related complications like heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. Tilapia and cod are also ideal for anyone with diabetes as both are low-calorie and high-protein; plus, they’re versatile, you can easily prepare them in many ways

Beating Diabetes doesn’t happen overnight. And depending on how serious your condition is, you might need more medical attention. However, simple food swaps such as these will play a huge part in your long-term mitigation of the disease. Of course, it requires your full effort and commitment. But before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a healthier body. For more health tips and nutrition advice, check out our other posts on NutriBites.

Peer-edited by Ashley Aguillard

Picture credit: Pexels

**Corrections made by the NutriBites Leadership Team — August 6, 2021

The NutriBites Leadership Team would like to take the time to thank our readers for highlighting the importance of using person-first language in regards to any disease, and in this case diabetes. Oftentimes the academic research realm and the medical field can be disconnected from the people we aim to serve, and there has been a long standing tradition of directly associating individuals and populations of people with their disease. It is super important that moving forward we do not utilize language such as “diabetics”, as this labeling can be disempowering and lead to negative health effects. As a NutriBites Team, we do not seek to further this negative bias towards individuals with chronic health conditions and thus have made the necessary edits in this article to reflect this. We apologize for any harm this oversight on our part may have caused and will work to ensure that this mistake is not replicated. We are, however, glad for the opportunity to have this conversation and hope that others can learn from this.

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