Eating to Lower Insulin Needs

I love food, and having Type 2 diabetes has not changed that. So when I found out that some foods help keep my insulin needs from spiking too high at meals, it captured my attention.

Insulin resistance, which is a characteristic feature of Type 2 diabetes, makes it more difficult to manage blood sugar. Carbohydrates that are digested fast are our enemy because they require high amounts of insulin to process.

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Since our cells are not sensitive to insulin, we do not get all of its benefits; this raises our blood sugar after meals, which can lead to complications. But if we learn how to balance the carbohydrate we eat with things that digest slowly, we can avoid the blood sugar spike after eating.

Protein and fats are best for slowing down digestion, so it is good to eat any carbohydrate along with protein- or fat-containing foods. Another approach is to have a personal list of foods that do not cause blood glucose spikes.

There are a lot of them, but this is my list — my favorite foods for lowering insulin needs:

The avocado is number one on my list because I love them. Full of good fat and fiber, an avocado all by itself is a perfect snack. The fat in this food actually lowers your blood cholesterol. Besides containing a surprisingly large amount of fiber, avocadoes have potassium, folate, and about 18 other vitamins and minerals.

Berries make a great snack. All of the berries are low calorie and low glycemic, besides being rich in antioxidants and fiber. Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries make great snacks. Keep in mind that berries, like all fruits, are typically better fresh or frozen — canned varieties often have added sugar.

Vitamin- and antioxidant-rich lemons are a real secret weapon in our battle against high blood sugar. Added to the water you drink before or with a meal, they help reduce the blood glucose impact of carbohydrates. You can also squeeze the fresh juice from a lemon onto vegetables and meat for the same effect. Lemons also have many other good effects, not least of which is the way they improve digestion.

Adding some fresh garlic to salads can also help reduce blood glucose levels. There seems to be no end to the good things this pungent food can do.

Sweet potatoes are a popular substitute for white potatoes, and for good reason. They have fiber, various minerals, and antioxidant power, and they have a lower impact on our blood sugar than white potatoes. Besides which, they taste really good.

Last on my list of favorite insulin-lowering foods is nuts. They make quick and easy snacks, and the fiber in them helps hold off hunger when we are trying to lose weight. Nuts have a lot of fat in them, but it is the kind that is good for us. Because they are calorie-packed, it is important to watch how many we eat at a time. Some people like to add them to oatmeal, yogurt, and salads. I prefer eating them just the way they are.

A complete list of insulin-lowering foods is long and varied, but these are the ones I like and use the most. I have learned that with living with diabetes means making permanent changes in the way I eat. The best way to do that, I have found, is to eat what I like. We are not simply on a “diabetic diet.” We are learning to eat in ways that we can continue for the rest of our lives.

There is no point in not enjoying the journey, and that includes food. I hope you have made your own list of foods you can count on to help lower your insulin needs.