Nourish Your Body: What can I eat with Type 2 diabetes?


One of the most common questions I hear when someone finds out that I am diabetic is, “Wow, what can you eat?” I generally say that I try to limit processed foods, foods made primarily from sugar or flour, and white starches (white potatoes, white rice, white pasta) while eating reasonable amounts of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and almonds, and lean meats. Of course, that’s not the whole story, but that’s what fits into the average person’s attention span.

The truth is that there is not a single “diabetes diet” because everyone’s body reacts differently to different food. For me, most fruits are fine, even pineapple and bananas, both of which are fairly high in sugar, but that’s not the case for many diabetics. I love black beans but I have to be careful not to eat more than 1/4 cup at a time because they will most certainly raise my blood sugar; others might not have that problem or might not be able to eat even a small amount.

How can you tell which foods work well for your body? By testing before and after meals every time you try a new food, to see what effect it will have on your blood sugar. Testing “in pairs” (both before you eat and two hours after you start eating) is the only sure way to know which foods your body will tolerate without spiking your blood sugar and that is the name of the game when it comes to diabetes self management.

There are some foods that seem pretty universally well tolerated in terms of blood sugar maintenance and those foods tend to be low-to-no carbohydrate foods. Lean meats, healthy fats, some fruits and non-starchy vegetables all fall into that category.

Which fruits and vegetables are unlikely to raise your blood sugar? Specifically:

  • Cherries, grapefruit, plums, peaches, prunes, apples, dried apricots (unsweetened), pears, and grapes*
  • Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, and raw carrots

*Important note about fruit: keep in mind the serving size when making your choice – generally, one cup constitutes a serving of fruit but one grapefruit is 2 servings of fruit, while two plums are one serving, and one peach or one apple or one pear is one serving; paying attention to how much you’re eating is as important as what you choose to eat.

Are there specific questions you’d like me to answer about food, eating well with diabetes, and how to make good nutritional choices for your body? Leave a comment on this post or send an email so that I can cover your questions in a future post.

Project Me: February retrospective and review

I can’t believe it’s already March – where is this year going so quickly?

Here is my Project Me backlog for February…

  • Join gym with Mick – helps both of us get and stay healthier
  • Work out at gym four times a week for 30-45 minutes each visit – nothing too strenuous or involved, just get in there and move; exercise is very good at helping to lower my blood sugar
  • No snacking on junk in the afternoons at work – purchase fruit and veggies, have them prepared and ready, and eat as many of them as I like but NO junk (vending machine munchies, trail mix that a co-worker made at home and brought in, Girl Scout cooking)
  • Eat a breakfast with healthy protein – my current obsession is a breakfast sandwich with one egg poached hard, lean ham or turkey, a slice of cheese, and a slice of whole grain bread – and skip the pastries when I get my nonfat latte in the morning
  • Apply my anti-wrinkle eye and face treatments every night before bed after washing my face – this one goes to my fourth long-term goal to improve my quality of life: I’m tired of looking at my sad, tired, wrinkled face every day and there are things that can be done to make the wrinkles go away if only I’ll actually take the five minutes to do them consistently!
    • So how did I do?
  • Gym joined and being used regularly. Since February 17th when I bought my Fitbit, I’ve worked out all but two days – not bad!
  • I started out walking for 30 minutes at a time and now I’m at 45 minutes each session – my goal – and increasing intensity by 10% per week.
  • No afternoon snacks except for fresh fruit or veggies since February 1st. Lord knows I’ve dealt with some powerful urges to binge eat junk but I’ve tuned in and acknowledged the feelings instead of eating them away and it’s working so far.
  • My standard breakfast is two hard boiled eggs and a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt with fruit. Most mornings I also stop off for a nonfat, no sugar added mocha, too, but not always.
  • Have definitely remembered to use my anti-wrinkle night treatments most nights. Not sure I see a difference in the really deep wrinkles in between my brows and around my mouth yet but the rest of my face and the fine lines are definitely improved plus my skin is much softer, so a win any way you measure it.
  • Still thinking about goals for March but they’ll definitely be along the same lines as February’s. must check in on my 2013 big goals, too, to make sure I’m still on track to meet those, too.

    Any health and fitness related goals for you this month? Share, please!