My research for this site, has included the review of diabetes cookbooks, online articles, and books. I have discovered that developing a list of diabetic foods can be confusing. Diabetic cookbooks, often published by noted dietitians and physicians, are full of recipes that are supposed to be good for diabetics. However, many of the recipes contain grains, breads, even flour. From personal experience, avoiding grains, breads, and cereals is key to losing weight and managing blood glucose levels. In the past I struggled with what foods to avoid and which to enjoy, so let’s take a look at what is meant by diabetic food.
The Diabetic Food Market
A recent report by Market Research Trends explains global diabetic food market is segmented into dietary beverages, low calorie ice cream, low fat dairy products and jellies. Manufacturers have started using artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Acesulfame K, and Neo-tame instead of sugar to bolster their product portfolio with so-called diabetic food products and attract a new target market of consumers. This has brought about a rise in the number of packaged and processed foods and drinks that are supposed to be good for diabetics. As a diabetic, however, it is important not only to avoid sugary items, but also artificial sweeteners. Many low calorie sodas contain these sorts of sweeteners as well as corn syrup and caffeine – all items as a diabetic you should avoid. The global diabetic food market, dominated by Unilever, Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Kellogg, Mars, and Fifty 50 Foods, has contributed greatly to the junk-food lifestyle that has caused the diabetes epidemic that we currently find ourselves in – their idea of diabetic foods is more of the same junk that caused this problem in the first place. Do not be fooled, in general a list of diabetic foods is limited to meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts – no artificial sweeteners here.
Low-Carb Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks
I lived a number of years in Europe, in a wine valley, and developed a love of wines. When I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes the subject of my drinking came up and I was informed that dark red wines like Merlot, in moderation, were OK to drink. In fact, online there are numerous suggestions of what alcoholic drinks a diabetic can enjoy and even while losing weight. A quick online search reveals that whiskey and brandy are low calorie; on a Keto diet that alcohol is acceptable; and, that drinking alcohol while trying to lose weight works. Low-carb and low-calorie aside, once in your body alcohol metabolizes into sugar, which causes a spike in blood Glucose levels that can interrupt sleep and further elevate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, if you are trying to lose weight, particularly on a low-carb or Keto diet, the burning of fat for energy stops while the body processes the most readily available source of energy – the sugar from alcohol. In other words, drinking alcohol on a diet is like pushing the pause button on weight loss (may even contribute to weight gain), and as a diabetic it will elevate blood Glucose levels. Any serious diet to lose weight and control diabetes will be alcohol free.
Counting Carbs, No Magic Carbs
Atkins is often thought of as a low-card weight loss plan that may work for diabetics. We all want to believe we can sit on the couch and eat Atkins bars and drink Atkins shakes and gobble down low-carb foods all the while losing weight. Friends, it ain’t going to happen! Moreover, the way Atkins counts carbs by subtracting from the total carbs those sugars from fiber and alcohols to get the “Net Carbs” does not mean as a diabetic that those carbs not counted magically go away. In short, there are no magic carbs. Because we are diabetics, we are at a higher risk of kidney failure and cancer (blood sugar feeds cancer), among other problems. Low-carb and Keto diets have been linked to an elevated risk of colon cancer and kidney disease. Hence, eat fruit as part of your diabetes regiment. I have fruit in the morning that way I have all day to burn off the extra-carbs and flush out the excess sugar.
List of Diabetic Foods
Many recipes in the diabetic cookbooks that I have in my kitchen include grains, flour, and cereals. Although these recipes are supposed to be diabetic friendly, the carb content of some exceed 30g. This many carbs per meal is a lot of sugar over the course of the day and is not conducive to weight loss or blood sugar management. Moreover, breads, cereals, and grains are the culprits behind the diabetes epidemic – so why continue eating them? In the past, a fast way for me to lose ten pounds was to stop eating bread, rice, cereals, and potatoes. Today, to manage my diabetes, I avoid eating these items, so it amkes me cringe when I find them included in a diabetic friendly recipe.
Here is my list if diabetic foods: Meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), nuts, almond flour, coconut flour, unsweetened almond milk, eggs, olive oil, tea (no caffeine), honey (small amounts) and lots of water! Notice this list contains no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no caffeine, and no processed foods from the global diabetic food market.
I do not discourage the use of diabetic cookbooks, I actually encourage it. Diabetic cookbooks contain many good recipes and those that ask for flour, substitute almond flour. You can always modify a recipe to fit your diet.
-Steven M Collins