Type 2 diabetes is a condition where one’s blood sugar is above normal limits. It makes sense that sugar intake is the most important factor when it comes to controlling blood sugars.

So what does a diabetic-friendly diet look like? Just cut out the donuts, ice cream, and other processed sugars, right? Yes and no. It is a common misconception that only processed sugars, like the sugar in Little Debbies, donuts, and ice cream, cause blood sugar to increase. However, it is a bit more complex than that.

What Should I Eat? 

Food contains three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Our body breaks these nutrients down and uses them for energy. Carbohydrates are the only nutrient we eat that turns into sugar in our bloodstream. Therefore, the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be. Proteins and fat have little to no effect on blood sugar, but that doesn’t mean you can have any kind or as much as you want because they can have an effect on cholesterol levels. A person with living with diabetes is at a much higher risk for heart disease, especially if they have high cholesterol, so choose healthy proteins and fats to keep cholesterol levels in check!

There are two types of carbohydrates that affect our blood sugar but in different ways. The first is, as we mentioned earlier, the simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. When you eat these foods, the sugar is quickly absorbed into the blood and causes a high spike in blood sugar. The second type is complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are found in whole grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, beans, and corn, and fruits. These foods also contain a non-digestible carbohydrate called fiber. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar when eaten. Foods with complex carbohydrates still cause a rise in blood sugar, but it is slower and not as high because of the fiber.

When it comes to diet and type 2 diabetes, the type of carbohydrate, the portion you eat, and timing are important and go further than just cutting out dessert. Talk with your care team about your recommended amount of carbohydrates for meals or snacks. You can also work with a dietitian to learn more about eating with diabetes.

And now that you have the knowledge, the next step is putting it into action! If lingering questions or concerns are holding you back, check out this article titled Cleveland Clinic: Protein, Fat, and Cholesterol Intake in People with Diabetes, or talk to your Health Advisor. We’re here to help.

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