Being Type 1 Diabetic, are you worried about making the right choice of food to control your blood sugar? Read to discover the Type 1 Diabetes food list you must include in your diet.
Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for managing Type 1 Diabetes. However, figuring out what food should go into your Type 1 Diabetes food list is the tricky part. The trick lies in choosing the food that contains all the necessary nutrients but doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels. Let us understand what you need to keep in mind when formulating a Type 1 Diabetes food chart.
What is the Role of Food in Type 1 Diabetes Management?
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing β-cells in your pancreas. This results in little to no insulin production in your body.
Insulin helps regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Your body digests the food you eat and breaks it down into glucose. This glucose gets absorbed into your bloodstream and is further transported into your cells with the help of insulin, where this glucose is converted into energy.
Carbohydrates are molecules that are made up of sugars like glucose and fructose, and thus release more sugar into your bloodstream when digested. Fats, proteins and fibre, in comparison, take relatively longer to digest and do not spike your blood sugar levels as much as carbs.
Therefore, keeping track of the number of carbohydrates you are consuming in a day is key to controlling your blood sugar levels, especially in Type 1 Diabetes.
Healthy Food for Type 1 Diabetes
There is no specific diet for Type 1 Diabetes, as it is impossible to cut down on all foods that contain carbohydrates. You can eat the same healthy diet as everyone else, but the key is consuming a balanced diet in moderation and counting the number of macronutrients you are consuming.
A healthy diet must include the following components in balanced proportions:
- Complex carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body, so they cannot be eliminated from your diet. Instead, try to cut out simple carbohydrates that digest immediately and spike your blood sugar. Instead, replace them with complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and raise your blood sugar levels gradually.
- Fibre and protein: Fibre and protein take longer to digest so they slow down the absorption of sugar from your food into your bloodstream. They also release a lesser amount of sugar when compared to carbs, which prevents sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels.
- Healthy fat: Fats play an important role in a healthy diet, as your body needs fats to produce energy, support cell function, and create hormones. However, make sure to choose healthy unsaturated fats in your diet, as saturated fats can raise your cholesterol levels and cause cardiovascular problems.
- Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals are necessary components for the proper functioning of your body and crucial for preventing the complications of Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Food List
Here is a list of the best foods for Type 1 Diabetes that you ought to include in your diet.
You should choose whole grains over refined grains when formulating a diet for Type 1 Diabetes. Whole grains are a source of carbohydrates, however, their higher fibre content ensures that they have a slower effect on blood sugar levels than refined grains. Thus whole grains fall under the category of complex carbohydrates.
However, whole grains should also be consumed moderately, by taking into consideration the portion size of the grains and their effect on blood sugar levels.
Nuts and seeds are a good source of fibre and healthy fats, which can slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. They are also a good source of protein.
Leafy vegetables are a rich source of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. They are low in carbohydrates and have minimal impact on your blood sugar levels. They also reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Leafy vegetables are also a good source of antioxidants like vitamin C and have anti-inflammatory properties. You can incorporate green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, fenugreek (methi) and cabbage into your balanced diet.
Broccoli is a good source of nutrients such as fibre, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K1, iron, and potassium. It is low in digestible carbs and has a good amount of fibre, which helps in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
Beans are a nourishing food for Type 1 Diabetics. They are an excellent source of protein, fibre, minerals and antioxidants. They keep you satiated for a longer period and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
They are also low on the glycaemic index (GI) scale and are considered a superfood for diabetics. You can have it very often provided you regulate your portion size.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are high in carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugar levels, but the fibre in this vegetable can delay the process and make it a low glycaemic index food that is suitable for Type 1 Diabetics.
You should have them in moderation to strike a healthy balance in your blood sugar levels and your body’s nutritional needs.
To make the most of the fibre in citrus fruits, you should ideally have them in moderation as whole fruit, as orange juice has a low fibre content.
Dairy products are low GI foods that are rich in fats and supply your body with energy. However, dairy products can also impact your blood sugar levels if consumed in excess. Skimmed or low-fat milk can be a better alternative to whole milk as it contains lower unhealthy fat content and calories but provides the same nutrients. Opt for low-fat, unsweetened milk and curd, and watch your portion size.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, but contain very few carbohydrates. Eggs can lower chronic inflammation in your body and improve insulin sensitivity in your cells. Thus they can help control your blood sugar levels.
Even though eggs have a positive impact on your blood sugar level, it is important to have them in moderation as they are high in cholesterol and may increase your risk for heart disease.
Fish is a good source of protein, which keeps you satiated and also helps stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Salmon, sardines, anchovies, and herring are great sources of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These fish have major benefits for your heart along with helping you manage Type 1 Diabetes.
DHA and EPA reduce inflammation in your body and protect the cells that line your blood vessels. Thus, they prevent blood vessel damage and improve blood flow to your major organs like your eyes, kidneys, heart, brain and limbs, which helps counteract the major complications of diabetes like retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, heart disease, etc.
What Foods to Avoid in Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetics need to know what foods to avoid as well. Foods that are devoid of nutrients and can cause a sudden and drastic increase in blood sugar levels should be avoided.
Some examples include:
- Added sugars
- Foods made with refined grains, such as white bread, pasta, white rice, etc.
- Sugary breakfast cereals, sweets, jams, cakes, biscuits, pastries, chocolate and candies
- Processed foods
- Soda, diet soda, store-bought juices and other sugary drinks
- Fried foods
- Foods high in saturated and trans fats
- Alcoholic beverages
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, but it can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes.
- A balanced diet that is high in fibre, protein, and healthy fats and has fewer simple carbohydrates is key for blood sugar management.
- A Type 1 Diabetes food list should include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, dairy products, eggs and fish.
- Along with medications, and regular exercise, it is possible to stabilise your blood sugar levels by incorporating the aforementioned food list into your daily diet.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management Program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
Friendly Asked Questions
Type 1 Diabetics should avoid certain foods that are devoid of nutrients and are high in calories, which can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Avoid foods that are deep-fried, sugary, processed, or high in sugar, saturated fats or trans fats. This includes cakes, biscuits, pastries, candies, chips, namkeen, and foods made with refined grains, such as white bread, pasta, etc.
If you are a diabetic, you need not completely avoid any fruit, just consume them in moderation. Avoid fruits that are high on the glycaemic index like pineapples, watermelons, papaya, cantaloupe, etc.
Type 1 Diabetes can eat any fruit in moderation. Choose fruits with high fibre and low sugar content that are low on the glycaemic index like apples, oranges, berries, kiwis, pears, etc. to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
As carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body, it is impossible to exclude them from your diet. Instead of eliminating carbs, Type 1 Diabetics should focus on cutting down on simple carbohydrates (sugar, starch, refined foods) and including more complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Yes, Type 1 Diabetic can eat sugar in moderation. Try to limit your daily intake of sugar to 30 g. This includes sugar added to packaged and processed foods.
Technically yes, a Type 1 Diabetic can drink alcohol in moderation. However, as alcohol can affect your blood sugar levels and cause complications like diabetic ketoacidosis or hypoglycaemia (very low blood sugar), seek your doctor’s advice before consuming alcohol. Your doctor will inform you of the precautions you need to take to prevent complications and help you adjust your insulin dose.
There is no standard diet for Type 1 Diabetes, but Type 1 Diabetics need to make informed and calculated choices of food items for their diet. They can eat food low in carbohydrates and high in fibre and proteins such as whole grains, beans, nuts, lentils, vegetables, fruits, low-fat milk, etc.