It is widely believed that diabetes can only be caused by excessive sugar intake. However, this is not the only way one can incur it. There are several risk factors that lead to a person becoming a diabetic. Similarly, reducing one’s sugar intake is not the only way to prevent diabetes. While sugar is directly related to diabetes, it is not the only cause.

Striking the right balance is necessary

The foods that are best for someone with diabetes are the same ones that are healthiest for people without it. A mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, with an emphasis on whole foods that are minimally processed and rich in nutrients, is ideal. This includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish. Cut down on foods and drinks that are high in sugar or fat, like sweets, fried foods, processed foods and soda.

Experts also recommend reevaluating how you put together a meal. Fill up half your plate with vegetables and salad, a quarter of it with carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, and the last quarter with protein from lean meat, fish, or soy products like tofu.

Personalized diets work best

For most people who are diabetic, the common assumption is that sugar/rice/potato is off limits. But that is not always true. In fact, you can eat many of the foods you love, even desserts—as long as they’re part of an overall healthy diet. The key is moderation. Eating the right amount of all kinds of food is what is most important to your diet. However, what works for someone else may not work for you. Consult with a nutritionist to figure out what kind of diet you should follow, since it’ll help in understanding how many calories and what kinds of food you should consume every day.

Know your carb intake

Another useful approach to diet planning is tracking calories and macros. Understanding the proper breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in your diet is just as important as knowing your calorie intake. To manage or avert diabetes, it’s essential to keep a close eye on carbohydrates, as it directly impacts glucose levels in the body. Tracking the amount of carbs you consume in each meal can help stabilize your blood glucose and, in turn, control diabetes. 

It may seem easier to be off carbohydrates for good, and some people with diabetes find success in low- or no-carb diets. But be careful as a diet low in carbs, and high in protein and fat is highly restrictive, hard to follow for an extended period of time, and may not be healthy in the long run. Since carbohydrates raise your blood glucose levels, restricting your intake while on insulin or certain type 2 medications could set you up for low blood glucose. In addition to that, these diets are high in saturated fat, which can raise your risk of heart disease.