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Enjoy Eating Again: You Don’t Have to “Give Up” Food (Even With Diabetes)

The first recommendation to people diagnosed with diabetes and prediabetes is making healthy lifestyle changes. But when people hear those words, their immediate worry is that these changes will mean the end of tasty treats or that they will have to completely sacrifice some of their favorite foods. In reality, you can still enjoy a delicious, fulfilling diet — even when living with diabetes.

It’s rare that any one food will be completely off-limits to you. There are countless ways to create foods that taste good and are also good for you. While everybody’s dietary needs are unique, we’ve compiled some of the most common food cravings — and how you can still incorporate them into a healthy diet. But remember to check in with your nutritionist to get personalized recommendations that will work best for you.

Craving Red Meat?

While the general recommendation is to avoid this particular type of protein, there are ways you can still enjoy it within your diabetic lifestyle. The most important thing to consider is that not all red meat is created equal. The higher quality red meat you have, the healthier it will be — and more often than not the more delicious it will be.

Choice grades of beef include chuck, rib, sirloin, flank, porterhouse, and other select cuts. Additional lean meat options are lamb, veal, and pork. Be sure to utilize healthy cooking methods, and make an effort to mix in other protein sources, including poultry, fish, and plant protein as recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

Have a Sweet Tooth?

Diabetes has everything to do with blood sugar. So certain limitations on sweeter foods will likely be necessary, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have any sugar at all. In fact, sugar is already present in most foods, so removing it completely would be nearly impossible. Any changes should simply reduce the added sugar in your diet.

Sugar contributes to your total carbohydrates. A common misconception is that candy will raise blood sugar levels faster than other starches. This isn’t true, so it’s easy to substitute a sweet treat into your normal diet. Low-calorie artificial sweeteners can also give you the sweet flavor with fewer carbohydrates, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic.

Still have questions about the best choices for your diet? Our Diabetes Education team offers additional resources.

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