10 TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING WITH DIABETES
Different types of diabetes exist and each person with diabetes is different. There is no one-size-fits all ‘diabetes diet.’ We have some tips to help you choose healthier foods.
These tips can help you manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. These tips can help you control your weight and lower the likelihood of complications like strokes and heart disease .
Our tips are based on research that involved people with type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. These tips may be relevant to someone with a different type or type of diabetes. No matter what type of diabetes you have it is important to consult your dietitian.
What does it mean to eat right?
Carb counting is essential if you have type 1 diabetes. This allows you to estimate the carbs in your meal and then match it with how much insulin is needed.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by being obese. It’s important to find a way of losing weight. It can lower your blood sugar and help you to avoid other complications. You can do this in various ways, including the Mediterranean, low-carb, and low-calorie diets. We now know that weight loss can lower blood glucose levels and can even reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes.
You may need to lose weight, gain, or maintain your type 1 or 2 diabetes. However, it is important to make healthier choices while doing so.
It is important to consider your type 2 or 1 portion sizes. This makes it easier to calculate nutritional facts for carb counting or trying to manage their weight. Remember that everyone is different and portions can be different so what works for one person might not work for another.
We have lots of information for you if you feel overwhelmed by or your feelings about diabetes.
These are our top 10 tips
1. Choose healthier carbohydrates
All carbs have an impact on blood glucose levels. It is important to be aware of carbohydrates. Be mindful of how much you eat and choose healthier carb-rich foods.
Here are some healthy sources for carbohydrate.
- Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, and oats are available.
- Pulses such as beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Dairy products include unsweetened yogurt and milk.
Reducing consumption of low-fiber foods like white bread, white rice, and highly processed cereals is important. If unsure, you can always check the food labels to find foods high in fiber.
2. Reduce salt intake
Salt can raise your risk of high cholesterol. This can increase your chances of suffering from heart disease and stroke. Diabetes puts you at greater risk for all these conditions.
Limit your salt intake to 6g per day (one teaspoonful). Pre-packaged foods are often high in salt, so read labels and select products with lower salt content. You can reduce salt intake by cooking from scratch. You can be creative and substitute salt for other herbs or spices to add extra flavor.
3. Reduce red and processed meat intake
You might eat more meat if trying to cut down on carbs. It’s not a good idea for red or processed meat like ham, bacon and sausages. All of these foods have been linked to heart disease and cancer.
You can swap between red and processed meats for these:
- Pulses such as beans or lentils
- Chickens like turkey and chicken
- Unsalted nuts
Lentils, beans, peas, and beans are high in fiber. They don’t alter blood sugar levels and make a great substitute for red meat. We all know fish is good for us. But oily fish such as salmon and mackerel can be even better. These fish are high in omega-3 oil which protects your heart. Two portions of oily fish should be consumed per week.
4. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
It’s well-known that fruits and veg are good for you. Eating more during mealtimes and having snacks when you feel hungry is a good idea. This will help ensure you have the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need every day to keep your body healthy.
You may be curious about fruit and whether you should avoid it as it is sugary. No. Whole fruits are good for everyone, even if you have diabetes. Although fruits do contain sugar, it is natural sugar. This contrasts the sugars added (also known as free sugars), found in foods like cakes, biscuits, and chocolate.
Products such as fruit juices count as added sugar. So, choose whole fruits. You can eat it fresh, frozen, dried, or tinned (in juice, not syrup). It’s better to consume it in smaller portions throughout the day than one large one at a time.
5. Choose healthier fats
fat is essential for our energy. But different types of fat affect our health in different ways.
Unsalted nuts, seeds and avocados have healthier fats than oily fish, olive oils, rapeseed or sunflower oil. Certain saturated fats may increase cholesterol levels, leading to heart disease. These can be found in prepared foods and animal products, such as:
- Red and processed meat
- Pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, and biscuits.
It is a good idea not to use oils at all. Instead, grill, steam, or bake your food.
6. Reduce sugar intake
We all know cutting out sugar is difficult initially, so we suggest small, practical swaps to help you start your quest to reduce sugar intake. Swapping sugary drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices for water, plain milk, tea, and coffee without sugar is possible.
To help you reduce your calorie intake, you can always use low- or zero-calorie sweeteners (also called artificial sweeteners). You can reduce your blood sugar levels and keep your weight down by cutting out added sugars. You shouldn’t stop drinking sugary drinks if your diabetes treatment results in hypos. It is important to talk with your diabetes team if you experience frequent hypos.
7. Smart snacking is key
You can snack on yoghurts or unsalted nuts, seeds and fruits, and vegetables instead of chips, chocolates, and biscuits. You should be careful with your portion sizes. This will help you to keep an eye on what you eat.
8. Be sensible when drinking alcohol
Alcohol has high calories. If you drink and are trying to lose weight, you might consider cutting back. Keep your alcohol intake to no more than 14 units per week. Spread it out to avoid binging and ensure you go without alcohol for at least 14 units per week.
It’s not a good idea for diabetics to drink empty stomach if you have insulin or any other diabetes medication. Hypos can be more common with alcohol.
9. Avoid so-called diabetic foods
It is illegal to say that food is a diabetic food. There is no evidence to suggest that eating these foods offers any special benefits over eating healthy. These foods often have the same fat and calories as other products and can still cause blood glucose levels to rise. Sometimes, these foods can cause a laxative effect.
10. Get your vitamins and minerals from food
No evidence supports the claim that vitamin and mineral supplements can help manage diabetes. You don’t have to take supplements, such as folic acid during pregnancy, unless your healthcare team has told you to.
A variety of foods is better for you to get your essential nutrients. Because supplements can alter your medication or make certain diabetes complications worse like kidney disease, this is important.
Eating healthier and being more active go hand in hand. This can help you control your diabetes and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It increases glucose use by muscles and improves insulin efficiency.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Any activity that increases your heart rate, speeds up breathing and makes you feel warmer. Talking should be possible while you can still speak and not be too out of breath. You don’t need to complete all 150 minutes at once. You can break it down into smaller chunks of 10 minutes each week, or 30 minutes five times weekly.