You have diabetes, and fortunately you’ve decided you’ll do whatever it takes to control your blood sugar and manage your diabetes well. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what you can and cannot eat.
People with diabetes are often told not to eat foods with sugar — and you may wonder if you can eat fruit. Thankfully, you can! Like vegetables, fruit is loaded with fiber and nutritious vitamins, minerals and natural plant chemicals, which means it’s an important part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes.
Eating fruit while you have diabetes requires thoughtful planning. Follow these recommendations:
- Whole fruits. If you’re not taking meal-time insulin, eat fruit with a meal and include whole grains and proteins in your meal. Use the USDA’s “My Plate”as a guide. A general rule of thumb is to eat approximately a half cup or half of a large piece of fruit. If you are on meal-time insulin, just remember to take into account the amount of carbohydrates in the serving size of fruit you’ve chosen.
- Dried fruit. Dried fruit doesn’t contain the water content of fresh fruit, which means the recommended serving sizes are smaller – think about how a raisin used to be a grape. Depending on how much moisture has been removed, the serving size will vary, but generally two tablespoons equals a half cup of fruit.
- 100 percent fruit juice. While it’s better for you than many of its sweet beverage counterparts, fruit juice is a refined fruit product and contains fewer nutrients than eating the whole fruit since the meat of the fruit is discarded along with many of the naturally occurring nutrients. In addition, liquids are absorbed more quickly and thus can raise your blood sugar quickly. People who have diabetes and aren’t on meal-time insulin would benefit by avoiding juice and other sweetened liquids entirely.
- Fruit canned in juice, light syrup, and heavy syrup. Avoid fruits canned in heavy syrups. Fruits canned in light syrup or in juice are appropriate to use if the liquid is drained off. Canned fruits that don’t have any added sugars are also available. If you’re not on meal-time insulin, limit your serving size to approximately a half cup.
If you have questions or need help with menu planning, contact a certified, licensed dietitian or nutritionist who specializes in diabetes education.