Healthy eating for people with diabetes

For people with diabetes, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial.  Although eating well-balanced meals is strongly encouraged, it is important to pay close attention to the carbohydrate portion of foods consumed as they become glucose when digested.

Glucose is a sugar needed to help our cells and organs function properly. In healthy individuals, the level of glucose within the blood is controlled so that it does not become too high or too low.  However, in people with diabetes, the body is unable to keep the glucose levels within the normal range. Frequent high levels of glucose within the blood is responsible for the complications that go along with diabetes including an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney damage, and many other problems.

To avoid the development of these complications and to help maintain normal glucose levels, people with diabetes should include foods that have low glycemic levels such as whole wheat bread, barley, carrots or lentils in their diets. Food such as white rice, white bread, pretzels or potatoes rank highly on the glycemic index and should be kept to a minimum or eliminated.

The glycemic index is a scale from 0-100 that gives us an idea of blood sugar response from a particular food. In general, foods that rank 55 or less are considered to have low glycemic levels and foods that rank 70 or more are high.  Anything in between these numbers is moderate.

While having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to follow a specific diet, it does mean you should remain mindful of what you eat.  Here are some recommended tips you can follow to help you along the way:

– Try to avoid or cut down on sweet drinks. Sugary drinks such as juice, soda, and energy drinks are very high in sugar and easily absorbed by the body so they will cause your blood sugar to go high quickly.

– Protein and fat in foods can lower the glycemic index (making it better for your blood sugar), but be careful you’re not eating too much because they are also rich in calories and can cause weight gain.

-Foods with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats such as lean meat, avocados, fish, and whole grain wheat are much better for you than food that contains saturated or transfats such as doughnuts, fried foods, and salami.

To schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor about managing your diabetes, please call the Jamaica Hospital Department of Family Medicine  at 718-206-6942.

Wesley Cheng D.O. Family Medicine

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.