The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not state that a particular diet is needed for people with diabetes but stresses the importance of following a number of principles.

They advise that people with diabetes should eat a diet that is:

  • high in fiber, fruit and vegetables
  • low in fat, salt and sugar

ADA advice: non-starchy veg, lean protein and grains

The ADA advises having a significant amount of non-starchy vegetables on your plate, making up the majority of each meal. They say that each plate should be 1/2 non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 whole grains or starchy foods.

  • Non-starchy foods: Cabbage, broccoli, celery, cucumber, leek, mushrooms, onions and rutabaga, to name just a few.
  • Lean Protein: Fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, “round” or “loin” beef steaks trimmed of fats. Also includes other sources of protein such as beans, legumes, lentils and nuts.
  • Whole Grain: Oats, whole wheat flour, brown rice
 

ADA advice: Cut down on saturated fat

This is a point that is sometimes contested by some nutritionists. Saturated fat is predominantly found in animal-based foods such as meat with the skin on and non-skimmed diary.

Fat has about twice the calories per gram compared with carbohydrate so it is important to be aware of your saturated fat intake.

Generally speaking, the worst offenders for high calorie counts tend to be foods that have both significant carbohydrate and fat such as:

  • Potato chips
  • Fries
  • Roast potatoes
  • Pastry based foods
  • Doughnuts and other sweet bakery products

People on reduced carbohydrate diets may find they need to increase their saturated fat intake to provide enough energy.

If you are at all unsure about how much fat to be having, talk to your doctor or dietician.

Eat lots of fruit and veg

Vegetables are an important part of the diet and help to provide a wide range of nutrients, whilst also being rich in soluble fiber that helps improve satiety and helps post meal blood glucose levels.

Fruit is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Some, however, have a relatively high sugar content so it’s worth being aware of the sugar content of your favorite fruits and fruit-based drinks, which tend to include a lot of added sugars.

Eat more fish

Fish is a good source of protein and large scale research studies have consistently found a regular intake of fish to be associated with improved health. It is a good source of protein, vitamins and omega-3.

Cut down on sugar

Sugar hits blood glucose levels quickly and so it’s recommended to reduce sugar intake where possible.

Foods that are known for having a high sugar content include biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals and low fat yoghurts. Even some store bought breads can have a surprising amount of sugar in each slice.

Eat less salt

A high intake of salt is believed to be responsible for raising blood pressure levels and raising the risk of heart disease. Processed foods tend to be some of the worst culprits.

To reduce your salt intake, you should limit your intake of:

  • Potato chips and fries
  • Pizza
  • Ready meals
  • Prepared pasta and curry sauces
  • Tinned soups