How can someone with diabetes put things that are healthy for them on the menu and still enjoy tasty food & drink? It begins with an understanding of carbohydrates. The "carbs" in food are what gets transformed into the glucose -- or dietary sugar -- which the body uses for its fuel. Glucose is the first fuel source that the body turns to when it needs more energy, and the brain lives on glucose. So it's important that sufficiently high amounts of glucose are available. Diabetics, however, have problems breaking down that glucose into usable fuel for the cells. This is why diabetics must watch their diet, get regular exercise, and take medications if prescribed by their doctors.
One tool available is the Glycemic Index (GI) for foods. This index tells us the amount and type of carbohydrate that a food contains in a serving. Not only must diabetics carefully control the amount of carbs they get, they must also watch the type. Simple carbs are digested much more easily by the body than complex carbs are. What this means for us is simple carbs give quick, sharp energy bursts - but then, they're gone, all burned up; and so is our energy. Complex carbs provide a steady stream of energy over a much longer period of time. Diabetics should aim to avoid "spikes" in blood glucose levels, so complex carbohydrates are generally preferred.
The Diabetes Food Pyramid is another useful tool. It serves as a guide for how much of a given food group diabetics should eat in a day. Foods closer to the bottom of the pyramid can be eaten more often than those closer to the top. Foods are grouped according to the amount of carbohydrates and proteins in the food, rather than organized by "food group". Starting from the bottom of the pyramid:
A well-planned diabetes diet helps to control blood sugar, but as a bonus it can also aid in weight loss -- and in some cases may aid in the prevention (or delay) of the disease. Diet plays a big role not just in controlling blood sugar levels, but also in how well you feel. Exercise should also be used in combination with an appropriate diet as it helps tremendously in regulating blood glucose levels ... as well as making you more fit and healthy.