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Updates to the Diabetic Diet

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 3/29/2011

In decades past, the diagnosis of diabetes meant, in addition to daily insulin injections and frequent needle sticks for testing of blood sugar, the elimination of sugar in what became known as the diabetic diet. Here we outline some diabetic diet guidelines to suggest this may be changing.

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    Diabetic Diet Guidelines

    The traditional diabetic diet held that, since the pancreas is no longer producing insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, the treatment needed to be the addition of insulin to the system and the simultaneous elimination of all additive sugars. Fortunately, advances in medical science have now proven that the traditional restrictions of the “diabetic diet” are simply unnecessary, and the resulting diabetic diet guidelines are making living with diabetes a much more manageable task.

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    The results of clinical studies have shown that most specifically labeled diabetic foods provide less energy than non-diabetic food products. Additionally, many diabetic foods have an unhealthy level of fat content, contributing to other conditions, such as heart disease and circulatory issues, suggesting that there is no benefit to the use of foods that are labeled for diabetic diet use. The study further concludes that the counterproductive qualities of many diabetic diet foods actually contribute to the belief that a person with diabetes cannot eat normal foods, which is now known to be a falsehood.

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    The current recommendation by dietitians specializing in the treatment of diabetic patients is to monitor and reduce the consumption of fat, cholesterol and proteins. The consumption of animal based protein in the updated diabetic diet is reduced, to coincide with the efforts to reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. Animal proteins, whole milk dairy products, and cheeses are high in saturated fat; therefore, reductions in these protein sources will result in lowering of overall saturated fat.

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    Current recommendations for diabetics include a diet full of fruits and vegetables, as it has been proven that naturally occurring sugars absorb more slowly than additive sugars and do not substantially raise blood glucose levels. Contrarily, diabetics should be careful of their consumption of starchy vegetables, as these are high in carbohydrates, which contribute to high blood sugar levels.

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    Diabetic diet guidelines suggest eating a diet high in fiber, which will have the effect of reducing the amount of insulin required to control blood sugar.

    The most dramatic effect is in the allowance of occasional sweet treats. No longer are birthday cakes off limits to children, as long as taken in moderation, and with compensating considerations taken elsewhere in the diabetic diet.