You're ready to head off to the grocery store and looking for your list. If you've got diabetes, though, you need more than a traditional shopping list. You need a guide that will let you quickly determine whether a food is a good choice or a bad choice. Making the best choices will help you maintain good health and control your blood glucose levels, keeping them as close to normal as possible. WebMD has compiled a list of best and worst food choices for diabetes that you can use either in the super market or in your own kitchen when you want something to eat.
The categories for the food choice list are taken from the Diabetes Food Pyramid. They include six food groups. The Diabetes Food Pyramid starts with breads, grains, and other starches at the base and rises to fats, oils, and sweets at the top. Here's the full list of categories from bottom up:
* Breads, grains, and other starches
* Meat, meat substitutes, and other protein
* Fats, oils, and sweets
Your goal for shopping and preparing meals is to choose more food from the base of the pyramid and less as you move toward the top.
What follows are some of the "best" and "worst" choices that can be made from each group. In addition, you'll find tips for making best choices for beverages. Keep in mind, though, if a food falls in the "worst" group, that doesn't mean you should never eat it. If you see something you really like on the "worst" list, you can think of it as an occasional treat. But in general, it will be easier to manage your diabetes if you choose most of your foods from the "best" lists.
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Diabetes Food List: Breads, Grains, and Other Starches
Along with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, foods in this first category contain mostly complex carbohydrates that your body turns into sugar for energy. Even though carbs make glucose levels rise, complex carbs are absorbed more slowly than simple carbs, and you need carbs for energy. Use this list as a guide to help you choose the complex carbs that are best for you.
Best Choices(in red)
Whole-grain flours, such as whole wheat flour
Whole grains, such as brown rice
Processed grains, such as white rice
Cereals containing whole-grain ingredients and little added sugar
Cereals with little whole grain and lots of sugar
Baked potato or baked steak fries
Whole-grain flour or corn tortillas
Fried white-flour tortillas
Diabetes Food List: Vegetables
Vegetables contain carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They usually contain fewer carbs than fruits. Many vegetables contain fiber and are naturally low in fat and sodium (unless they are canned). Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, aren't included in this category. They are considered part of the breads, grains, and other starches group. Use this list to guide your shopping and cooking choices.
Best Choices(in red)
Fresh vegetables, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
Frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
Vegetables cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
Pickles (only if you need to limit sodium otherwise pickles are a good choice)
Fresh shredded cabbage or coleslaw
Sauerkraut, (same as pickles, limit only if you have high blood pressure)
Diabetes Food List: Fruits
Fruits contain carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are naturally low in fat -- except for avocados -- and sodium. Fruits often contain more carbs than are found in vegetables. Aim for selections from the "Best Choices" list and avoid "Worst Choices."
Best Choices (in red)
Frozen fruit or fruit canned in fruit juice
Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
Chewy fruit rolls
Sugar-free or low-sugar jam or preserves
Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless portion is kept small)
100% fruit juice or low-carb juices
Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks, sweetened soda
Diabetes Food List: Dairy
This group includes milk and foods made from milk, such as yogurt and sour cream. Milk contains a lot of protein and minerals, including calcium. Use this list to guide your selection of milk products.
Best Choices (in red)
1% or skim milk
Low-fat cottage cheese
Regular cottage cheese
Nonfat sour cream
Regular sour cream
Frozen low-fat, low-carb yogurt
Regular ice cream
Non-fat half and half
Regular half and half
Diabetes Food List: Fats, Oils, and Sweets
Fats, oils, and sweets -- and foods containing them -- often provide lots of calories and little nutrition. Many "snack foods" are filled with fats or oils and sugar. Eating too much of these kinds of foods can lead to weight gain, making it harder to keep diabetes under control. That doesn't mean you have to avoid fats, oils, and sweets altogether. Just select and eat them wisely. Here are some suggestions.
Best Choices (in red )
Baked snacks, such as baked potato chips, baked corn chips, puffed rice, or corn snacks
Snacks fried in fat, such as potato chips, corn chips, pork rinds
Vegetable oils, non-hydrogenated butter spreads, margarine
Lard, hydrogenated vegetable shortening, butter
Light salad dressings
Regular salad dressings
Air-popped or calorie-controlled popcorn
Butter-flavored stove-top popcorn
Diabetes Food List: Beverages
Many beverages are not found on the food pyramid. Some beverages contain lots of carbohydrates while providing very little nutrition. This makes it easy for beverages to contribute to weight gain. Here are some best-choice and worst-choice examples.
Best Choices for Beverages(in red)
Water, unflavored or flavored sparkling water
"Light" beer, small amounts of wine or non-fruity mixed drinks
Regular beer, fruity mixed drinks, dessert wines
Unsweetened tea (add a slice of lemon)
Coffee, black or with added low fat milk and sugar substitute
Coffee with sugar and cream
Home-brewed coffee and hot chocolate
Flavored coffees and chocolate drinks
Diabetes Food List: For More Information
You can learn a lot more about meal planning and wise food choices from a registered dietitian. Ask your doctor for a referral. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides an extensive database of food products and their nutrients. Check out individual foods at their web site or download the guide to use on a home computer.
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