6 Surprising Diabetes Diet Tips

African American man sneaking cake in kitchenBack in the early days of diabetes care, a “diabetes diet” was all about what you couldn’t eat. Patients were put on carefully restricted diets that limited starches and sweets. No bread. No peas. No dessert. Basically no fun at all.

But today diabetes-care experts agree that the principles of a healthy diet are the same for the person with diabetes as they are for everyone else. And, most importantly, having diabetes doesn’t mean the end of good eating.

The following tips – as surprising as they may be—will help you live well with diabetes and rediscover the foods you love.

1. Eat Whatever You Want  

“There are no bad foods that have to be eliminated forever,” according to Gretchen Scalpi, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author of The Everything Diabetes Cookbook and The Everything Guide to Managing & Reversing Prediabetes.

She tells her patients, “If blood sugar is in control, then work [any food] in and enjoy it.”  However, if you’ve had a day (or days) with very high sugar readings, that’s not the best time to have dessert. When you do have sugary treats, be sure to keep the amount within your carbohydrate allowance by substituting those sweets for starch, fruit, or milk in your diet.

2. Have Some Sugar! 

Contrary to popular belief, having diabetes does not translate into having to eat sugar- free versions of everything. In fact, avoid too many sugar-free foods, warns registered dietitian Angela Ginn, senior education coordinator at the University of Maryland Center for diabetes and endocrinology.

“It’s just a tummy ache waiting to happen,” Ginn explained. That’s because many sugar- free cookies, candy, cakes and pies are sweetened with sugar alcohols. Eating too many of these foods can cause diarrhea and upset stomach.  “Enjoy naturally sweet fruit first and if that can’t satisfy your sweet tooth, reach for the real thing,” says Ginn.