For years, people with diabetes were warned to avoid sugar, or simple carbohydrates. Cakes, candy and other sweets caused glucose levels to skyrocket, experts theorized, making it difficult to control the disease.
Since then, researchers have concluded that the no-sugar rule is all washed up. And the American Diabetes Association has responded by revising its dietary guidelines.
The new theory holds that it’s more important to monitor the total amount of carbohydrates consumed rather than the type. In other words, if you have diabetes, you don’t have to give up all simple carbohydrates in favor of complex carbohydrates. With careful planning, you can enjoy a slice of cake and still control blood sugar levels.
The updated diabetic exchange lists also offer more variety. Besides the inclusion of cakes, pies and puddings, you’ll notice reduced-fat, vegetarian and fast-food selections.
If you’ve been following a strict diet, you may find the new freedom overwhelming. A registered dietitian can help you develop a sensible plan and determine your daily carbohydrate intake.
As your eating plan takes shape, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Limit fat to no more than 30 percent of your daily calorie intake and saturated fat to 7 percent.
- Limit cholesterol to no more than 300 milligrams a day.
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and choose high-fiber, whole-grain foods over refined starches most of the time.
- Protein should make up 10 to 20 percent of your diet. Choose lean sources as much as possible.
- Use alcohol wisely. If your blood sugar levels are well controlled, your healthcare provider may allow you to have one or two drinks a day. However, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach because it can cause blood sugar levels to plummet.