How Should Diabetics Choose What To Eat?

This is a long debated subject, usually without a great deal of science, but certainly with much passion, desire and hope. For some reason, the natural and the national (desi) have been bestowed with supernatural properties, which in most cases is debatable either way. For instance, there is actual research that talks about honey, which is mostly sugar, as an anti-diabetic agent.

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The purpose of this article is to establish a basis for the consumption of fruit by diabetics, but first a little more clarity on how we do so. We have two measures that are most often quoted with respect to food suitable for diabetics – Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.

Glycemic Index or GI is [1]:

  • a measure of how quickly a food can raise your blood sugar
  • a number between 0 to 100
  • compared against pure glucose, which has a GI of 100
  • only available for foods with carbohydrates (sugar is a carbohydrate [2])

In a nutshell, low GI foods cause your blood sugar to rise slowly, and high GI foods cause your blood sugar to rise fast. [1] Examples of high and low GI foods include:

  • Low GI (0 – 55): Carrots, greens, apples, oranges, most nuts, most legumes, milk,  yogurt etc.
  • Medium GI (55 – 69): Whole wheat breads, brown rice, raisins, oats porridge etc.
  • High GI (70+): Foods made with refined flours, potatoes, most packaged snack foods, watermelons

Glycemic Load or GL is [3]:

  • derived from a food’s Glycemic Index
  • a measure that takes into account the amount of available carbohydrates in a food as well as its impact on blood sugar
  • interpreted as low for foods with a GL less than 10, medium for foods between 11 and 19, and high for those above 20

This means, looking up the Glycemic Load (GL) of a food is a more accurate way of managing your diabetes than Glycemic Index (GI). Keep in mind however, that these are all based on technical data and your body is unique in the way it interacts with and responds to foods. Do not go by lists alone, regardless of how authentic they are. Measure your blood sugar regularly at home, especially after eating foods you don’t know how your body responds to, and get an HbA1c done at an accredited laboratory as per your doctor’s instructions.

Click here to look up the Glycemic Load of Foods

List of Safe Fruits for Diabetics List of Safe Grains for Diabetics List of Safe Legumes/Lentils for Diabetics List of Unlikely Vegetables Safe for Diabetics


  1. Glycemic index and diabetesCarbohydrates and Blood Sugar
  2. Types of Carbohydrates
  3. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar

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