The answer to this question ought to be that a person with diabetes can eat whatever they like. This is especially the case for those with insulin-dependent diabetes who can inject insulin to cover carbs.
At the same time, it can be useful to consider how certain foods interact with your body. Indeed, it’s natural to wonder what food for diabetes is best – so much so that we have a list of commonly asked about foods.
We’re going to go through this list of foods. Instead of giving a yes or no answer to whether a person with diabetes can eat them, we’ll go into more detail about how they affect people – particularly a person’s blood sugar levels.
Can a Person with Diabetes eat These Following Foods?
In this article (click to scroll down!):
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Cheese?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Chocolate?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Dates?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Grapes?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Honey?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat eggs?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat rice?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat dark Chocolate?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Grapefruit?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Yoghurt?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Raisins?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Cherries?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Ice-Cream?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Jackfruit?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Mango?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Dried Fruits?
Can a Person with Diabetes eat Cantaloupe?
In its most essential form (barring any carb additions like fruits or nuts, for instance), cheese is very low-carb. As such, it could be easy to have cheeses as low sugar snacks with diabetes since the cheese isn’t going to make much of a change to blood sugar levels.
Instead, cheese does have plenty of fat. It’s worth being aware of the balance of fat in a diet. Fat is an important component of a diet. Hedia’s Nutrition Consultant, Sidse, points this out in her post Diabetes and Food. Too much fat, however, might lead to insulin resistance.
Feel free to eat cheese if you want (and you should feel free to eat anything anyway) but try to keep a balance.
Chocolate is so varied that it can be difficult to give a definitive answer about how “bad” it is. Cacao and cocoa powder have few carbs. The carbs enter the equation depending on how that cacao is used.
For instance, a standard chocolate bar/candy bar will have many carbs because of the added sugar.
If you do want the chocolate while avoiding the high number of carbs, you can aim for products that have a higher cacao content. A dark chocolate bar will usually have higher amounts of cacao and, thereby, will have less sugar in its contents.
You can also add cocoa powder to your own low-sugar recipes since cocoa powder will have a negligible impact on blood sugar.
Dates are high in sugar: they may not be what you’re looking for if you want to avoid high blood glucose roller coasters.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you can’t eat dates, especially if insulin can potentially take care of those roller coasters.
Do you want help with getting more accurate insulin doses to take care of the dates? Hedia’s insulin calculator takes the information you provide such as active insulin, the amount of carbs eaten recently, and your blood sugar level. Based on this, Hedia gives a recommended insulin amount. Have a try at Google Play or the App Store!
In fact, if you want something sweet, dates are not a bad idea because they are filled with nutrients – particularly potassium and fibre. In that sense, dates can be a refined sugar alternative.
Like most fruit, grapes contain sugar. Is that a bad thing? Well, carbs are usually necessary in a diet: grapes could be a good source of carbs.
Grapes could be one of the classic 5-a-day fruit options, providing you with potassium, calcium, vitamin K, and magnesium.
Just make sure to keep track of how many grapes you’re eating!
Honey is sweet because it has sugar in it (albeit naturally-occurring sugar). So, you might not want to go around eating honey out of the jar for the sake of your blood sugar levels.
But much like dates, honey can be a valuable alternative to refined sugar. Honey has a lower glycemic index (GI) level than refined sugar, meaning that the sugar is digested more slowly. As a result, blood sugar levels rise slower than with refined sugar.
On top of that, you’ll find many health benefits of honey such as helping to relieve coughs or gastrointestinal diseases, according to Mayo Clinic.
This all goes to suggest that if you do need sugar, then honey might be a good option as long as you’re aware of its impact on blood sugar levels.
Since eggs are mostly protein with barely any carbs, there shouldn’t be much issue with eating eggs. For that reason, a boiled egg can be an ideal snack if you don’t want to worry about insulin or blood sugar.
Rice is a great source of carbs. While the carbs will raise blood sugar levels, that doesn’t mean you need to shy away from rice.
Instead of considering whether to eat rice, it may be more worthwhile to consider whether rice is refined. Like most refined foods, white rice is often stripped of its nutrients and fibre. Instead, other kinds of rice (like brown or wild rice) will contain nutrients like B vitamins, folic acid, and iron.
While both kinds of rice definitely will raise blood sugar levels, non-refined rice will raise blood sugar levels more steadily because of the fibre slowing down digestion.
As mentioned in the section above about chocolate, dark chocolate can fulfil the taste for chocolate without the sharp blood sugar rise of more sugary chocolate.
Dark chocolate still contains a certain amount of carbs; it still will raise blood sugar. Nonetheless, that blood sugar rise likely will be more stable than with sweeter chocolates.
Plus, dark chocolate could help protect the heart and blood vessels. Some short-term studies suggest that it could even increase insulin sensitivity, as outlined by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
As with most other fruit, grapefruit is both sugary and nutritious. Fruit’s sugary nature means that it will raise blood sugar levels, which is worth being aware of.
At the same time, grapefruit is usually considered a more low-carb fruit: half a grapefruit has about 13 grams of carbohydrate which means it has slightly fewer carbs than other fruit servings in general.
There is some discussion about grapefruit improving the state of blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, after a study found that this occurred in mice. However, the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation suggests taking this study with a pinch of salt after the NHS advised not to replace diabetes medication with grapefruit.
Treat grapefruit as you would any fruit: a healthy source of nutrition which also provides you with carbs (albeit slightly fewer carbs in the case of grapefruit).
While milk contains sugar (mainly lactose), that’s less the case for yoghurt: sugar is broken down when milk is turned into yoghurt. As a result, yoghurt is not sugary and has a small amount of carbs. Blood sugar levels won’t rise so drastically with yoghurt.
Don’t forget to check what kind of yoghurt you’re eating. Many yoghurts have sugar added to them. If you want yoghurt without added sugar, go for the natural Greek-style yoghurt.
The information above about grapes applies here since raisins are just dried grapes. In short, raisins can be nutritious but can also raise blood sugar levels.
Raisins don’t need to be avoided just because they raise blood sugar levels. It’s more about keeping track of how much you eat and keeping a balance.
Just be aware of the fact that dried fruit like grapes have a higher concentration of carbs than their fresh fruit counterparts (purely because they’ve lost water in the drying process). See more on this in the section devoted to dried fruits.
The carb content of cherries will depend on the kind of cherries eaten. If we consider cherries in terms of the glycemic index: the sweeter the cherry, the higher the glycemic index. Sour cherries have a GI of 22 while sweet cherries have a GI of 63.
That means that sweet cherries will raise blood sugar levels quicker. Nonetheless, cherries are a source of nutrients like vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, and calcium.
As long as you keep an eye on the carb content and its effect on your blood sugar, cherries can work a treat!
Ice-cream in general varies greatly between different kinds and their ingredients. Being a dessert, ice-cream is usually very sweet, with plenty of added refined sugar.
Plus, ice-cream is usually made from milk, which is sweet in itself. Aside from the carbs, ice-cream will contain a certain amount of fat.
These are all things worth being aware of if deciding to eat ice-cream: this combination could lead to blood sugar levels which are harder to control.
Alternatives do exist, however. See what low-carb ice-cream options are available. You could even try making your own ice-cream if you feel adventurous!
While jackfruit may be sweet, it can be used in savoury meals due to its meat-like texture. Despite seeming meat-like, jackfruit has carbs like most other fruits.
With a glycemic index of 75, jackfruit has a medium glycemic load for a standard serving.
Thus, the carbs will raise blood sugar but the fibre content will keep that rise relatively stable. According to the USDA, the fibre in a serving (1 cup) is 10% of the daily value (the daily value of fibre being 28 grams).
The story for mango is the same as with other fibrous fruits: the carbs raise blood sugar levels but the fibre slows it down. Mango is on the sweeter side, meaning more (naturally occurring) sugar.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid it. As ever, fruit is nutritious. In this case, mango contains nutrients such as potassium, along with vitamins A, B-6, and C.
The same situation with fruit and diabetes applies to dried fruits: the nutritional values of the dried fruit don’t change just because they’re dried.
This means that dried fruit raises blood sugar while being nutritious. The difference with dried fruit is that it is treated more as an easy-to-shovel-into-your-mouth snack. So, do be aware of your portions.
Portion awareness is particularly striking when considering the loss of water in dried fruits. As a result of losing water and volume in the change between fresh fruit and dried fruit, the nutritional values of dried fruit become more concentrated.
For example: a grape and a raisin will give the same carbs but because the raisin is smaller, it’s easy to get carried away with eating more carbs than you normally would with fresh fruit.
Keep an eye out for manufacturers who add refined sugar to dried fruits – that could be an unexpected source of additional carbs.
As snacks go, dried fruit can still be a better option than candy or crisps/chips for keeping blood sugar stable. Dried fruit contains fibre and natural sugars, meaning the blood sugar spike is not as sharp.
As a sweetener, raisins are certainly more helpful for blood sugar levels than pure refined sugar. You could try using raisins (and honey perhaps) instead of sugar next time you bake a cake. Try our recipe for simnel cake that uses both dried fruit and honey!
Ah, the versatile cantaloupe melon: appropriate for a snack, dessert, or as an antipasto.
As the last fruit on this list, you’ll know by now what the deal with fruit and diabetes is. Cantaloupe, like most other fruits, will raise blood sugar levels (but not as much as refined sugar found in candy, for instance), while being nutritious.
Just like mango above, cantaloupe contains potassium, along with vitamins A, B-6, and C.
Potassium is multifaceted in that it helps stabilise blood pressure, helps to build up protein and break down carbohydrates while protecting muscle mass and bones – and much more, according to Harvard Health.
Meanwhile, the vitamins also have multiple roles, such as bolstering the immune system, keeping healthy vision, helping the body store energy, creating haemoglobin, and protecting cells.
Can you eat this? Only if you want to!
If you’re wondering what foods to avoid with diabetes, you’ll see that it all depends on the balance you keep in your diet.
We’re not going to tell you that you can’t eat certain foods or that certain foods are bad. At the same time, some food will give you a more marked raise in blood sugar levels while also having less nutritional value.
As such, for snacks, you might wish to stick to the various fruits in this list rather than the candy. You might also want to stick to whole foods in general, which our Nutrition and Health consultant explains in greater detail in her post, Diabetes and Food.
With all that considered, it’s not the end of the world if you do have chocolate or ice-cream, considering that there are low-carb options.
Even without the low-carb options, you don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying your guilty pleasures – as long as the carbs are accounted for!
Do you want help with accounting for those carbs? Try Hedia, which is completely free to use and is available from the App Store and from Google Play!