What is a diabetic diet?

There is no such thing as a diabetes (diabetic) diet. No foods are completely off limits for most people. Gone are the days when the only rule for people with diabetes was to avoid sugar. Now, it's more about eating foods that help you maintain steady blood sugar levels and lower your risk for heart disease and other illnesses that are more likely to occur if you have diabetes. Essentially, focus on moderation, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and keeping track of your carbohydrates.

That doesn't mean you can eat everything in sight and still stay healthy. There are foods and ways to prepare them that will help keep your diabetes symptoms under control and will help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other ailments for which you are at higher risk as someone with diabetes.

The main thing to remember with diabetes is carbohydrate control. Your total daily intake of carbohydrates should be at least 130 grams (g) per day, ideally 40% to 45% of your total caloric intake. If you regularly take medication or insulin for your diabetes, it's helpful to maintain meal-to-meal consistency in distributing your carbohydrates throughout the day.
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
A diabetic diet controls the amount of carbohydrates consumed. For the average women, eating three carbohydrates a meal will control blood sugar. It's not so much what you eat, as it is how much you eat. Seeing a registered dietitian is the best way to understand how to incorporate the right amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in your diet.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
A diabetic diet focuses on the amount of carbohydrates consumed. Due to the insufficient use of insulin, a diabetic must monitor their carbohydrate intake to prevent damage to the body. Meet with a registered dietitian to make a plan following a proper diabetic diet. 
Amy Campbell
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

In reality, there really isn't a "diabetic" diet. That's because eating and nutrition guidelines for people with diabetes are very individualized. There's no one "diet" that works for everyone with diabetes. That being said, some people with diabetes do well with a restricted carbohydrate eating plan, which may be about 40 to 45% of calories from carbohydrate. Other people choose to follow a vegetarian plan. And many people, especially people with type 1 diabetes, who take mealtime insulin don't follow any kind of "diet" -- they adjust their mealtime insulin dose to the amount and type of carbohydrate that they choose to eat. Because there are so many guidelines and thoughts about what people with diabetes should eat, it's best if you meet with a dietitian. He or she will help you to develop your own eating plan that's based on your type of diabetes, food preferences, health history, work schedule and cultural background, as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.