Diabetes and diet

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Did you know that more than 4.5 million people are diabetic in France, including around 1 million who are unaware of it?

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

But what diet should you adopt in case of diabetes?

what is diabetes?

Diabetes is characterized by having too much sugar in the blood.

This disease is linked to insulin, which is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels and better distribute them so that they do not remain in the blood.

It is the leading cause of disability and death worldwide; it is therefore a real public health problem today.

For what ? Because diabetes causes many complications at the cardiovascular level, at the eye level, at the kidney level among others…

Fortunately, diet plays an important role in the development of diabetes.

Diet for a diabetic allows you to:

  • meet nutritional needs,
  • to control sugar levels,
  • to reach a correct weight,
  • and prevent the risk of associated diseases.

What diet should you follow when you have diabetes?

Please note that we are no longer talking about a diet for diabetics but about a ” balanced diet “, in which each of the food groups will have its own importance.

Gone are the days when people with diabetes were asked to completely eliminate sugars, for example! We realized that this was not the way to do it.

To balance your meals when you are diabetic, you will have to respect certain simple dietary principles.

To start, choose foods with a low glycemic index.

diabetic woman

The glycemic index is an index that measures the ability of a food to quickly raise blood sugar levels (glycemia).

The higher the glycemic index, the faster the sugar level will rise in the blood, which is not good for a person with diabetes.

So, there are lists of foods with each glycemic index. For example, the following foods have a low glycemic index: avocado, dark chocolate over 70%, nuts, almonds, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and also wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta.

Also prioritize foods rich in good fats because diabetics have a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and this risk is 2 to 3 times higher than the general population, this is not to be taken lightly!

The choice will therefore fall on fats of plant origin such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, walnut oil but also on the good fats contained in fatty fish, the famous Omega 3, such as in salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines…

And a simple tip: remember to sprinkle your plates with flax seeds, which are very rich in good fats!

My third tip is to enrich your diet with fiber because they play an interesting role in blood sugar control.

And then consider having at least one vegetable with each meal. This can be in raw or cooked form, alternating the forms.

A quick word about my advice:

What is the technique for learning or relearning to eat a balanced diet easily when you are diabetic?

I advise you to refer to the food pyramid.

The base of the pyramid are the foods to consume, so obviously the foods at the very top of the pyramid should be avoided as much as possible!

Let’s start at the top:

  • The sweets : to be avoided as much as possible but if it happens from time to time, it should not be outside of meals as this would cause blood sugar levels to rise too sharply.
  • Fats and oils: use in moderation and opt for the good oils that I mentioned previously.
  • Milk, yogurts: 2 servings per day
  • Cheese, meat, poultry, fish, eggs: 1 serving of cheese AND 1 serving of meat, poultry, fish, eggs per day. Only eat red meat once a week.
  • Bread, cereal products, potatoes, legumes: at each main meal, preferably use the whole products mentioned above and those with a low Glycemic Index.
  • Fruits and vegetables : 2 to 3 servings per day. And avoid fruits outside of meals because they contain sugar.
  • Water, tea, unsweetened drinks: at least 1.5 liters per day.

And sugar, can’t we replace it with something else?

There are more natural solutions than what was previously used, such as aspartame, an artificial sweetener discovered in 1965, but whose consumption has been discouraged! So we avoid it.

Today you can easily find on the market:

  • Stevia : it comes in the form of a green powder and has a very strong licorice taste. It has no impact on blood sugar at all, it does not raise blood sugar at all, but you have to appreciate its particular taste.
  • Xylitol which comes to us from the Nordic countries, is a sugar substitute (found in organic stores) made from birch extract. Be careful not to add too much when cooking it because its taste becomes more pronounced!
  • THEcoconut sugar. It caramelizes like the sugar you are used to using but it has a low glycemic index. And personally, it’s my favorite!

And otherwise, you can replace the sugar with fruit puree in desserts, it’s very good too!

​So ultimately when you are diabetic, you just need to acquire good daily eating habits!