A healthy diet for someone with diabetes is the same as a healthy diet
for anyone else. Find out what foods are best and what to avoid.
More and more people are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It used to be a disease that only affected people in later life but it is now starting to affect younger adults and even some children have now been diagnosed. Experts think that this rise in diabetes in younger people is mainly due to our diet and lack of exercise, which is making more of us overweight and obese.
They also say a healthy diet for someone with diabetes is the same as a healthy diet for anyone else. It's normal food with plenty of fruit and vegetables, keeping your intake of fats, sugars and salt well in check.
Eating healthy can help to prevent complications, eating a balanced diet, containing a variety of different vegetables, will help provide many nutrients that the body needs. Try to include foods containing fibre such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables & fruit. Also try to substitute monounsaturated fats such as nuts, avocados and olive oil rather than eating butter or fried foods.
Carbohydrates form the main source of sugar in your blood:
- Starchy carbohydrates (found in wholemeal bread or pasta, for example) are broken down into sugars and absorbed slowly. This slow absorption keeps blood glucose levels smoother.
- Carbohydrates in sugary foods (such as cakes or sweets) are absorbed quickly, making your blood glucose levels rise more sharply.
Foods containing carbohydrate should be balanced with the right amount of activity or diabetes medication, if needed. If the balance between carbohydrate and activity/ medications is off, after meal blood glucose levels may be high. If you start eating less carbohydrate and notice low blood glucose after meals, talk with your healthcare professional about perhaps changing your medications.
In addition to carbohydrates you need to eat:
Fruit and vegetables
The government recommends eating five different portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Try to spread your intake of fruit out over the day to avoid any sudden rises in your blood glucose levels.
Meat, fish and protein alternatives (e.g. Quorn and tofu)
Eat a variety of proteins and choose low fat options where you can, for instance:
Lean ham in preference to pork pies
Chicken without the skin.
Pulses (lentils and beans)
Milk and dairy foods
- Dairy products such as yoghurt and milk contain calcium, needed for healthy bones and teeth. Adults should look for the low fat versions.
Small amounts of fats, sugars and salt:
- Don't cut out fats completely, but reduce your intake right down.
- Use herbs for extra flavour rather than salt.
- Cut down on sugar where you can. You might try some of the intense sweeteners instead. (Vary the brands rather than sticking to one type so that you don't exceed the government's recommended 'Acceptable Daily Intake' levels for artificial sweeteners.)
What should you avoid?
Too much salt, this can lead to:
- Increase in blood pressure.
Too much saturated fat is linked to:
- Increased cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Weight gain. Being overweight creates its own health risks, but it also makes a difference to your diabetes control:
- In your body, insulin seems to find moving sugar out of your blood into fatty tissue particularly difficult; so the more weight you carry, the more insulin you may need to inject.
- Of course, the opposite is true too; if you lose weight, you should need less insulin. That's why blood glucose testing is so important when you are on a diet.