As part of Dietitians Week, we look at some tips on Nutrition and Diabetes management with Cecilia Jaarsma, Specialist Dietitian.
Healthy eating for Diabetes is no different to a healthy eating diet for everyone else. It is making sure you are eating a balanced diet, by including the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein along with fibre, vitamins and minerals. This will help manage your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight which are important factors for the long-term management of diabetes.
See below four important dietary guidelines for managing your diabetes:
- Eat regular meals and healthy snacks spread over the day
Not skipping meals and eating regular meals during the day will help to keep your blood sugars under control. Distributing your carbohydrates during the day instead of having one big portion of carbohydrates in the evening is a good way to avoid blood sugar spikes.
- Base your meals around high fibre carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, beans, lentils, vegetables and fruits
You may have heard about the Glycemic index. Following a low GI diet doesn’t have to be complex and is as simple as making sure you include fibre-rich whole grains such as seeded bread, oats porridge, beans, lentils and most fruit and vegetables. Including these complex carbohydrates along with lean protein, low fat dairy, and small amounts of essential fats will help to control your blood glucose levels.
- Watch the amount of fat you eat and limit saturated fat by choosing lean meats and low fat dairy varieties. Try to avoid fried or creamy takeaway foods, pastries and biscuits.
Examples of high fat foods includes biscuits, crisps, chocolates, cakes, ice cream and butter Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories and raise blood sugar levels, so go for diet, light or low-calorie alternatives. The best drink to choose is water – it’s calorie free.
Be mindful of ‘diabetic’ foods as these can often contain additional fat, even though these claims to be ‘sugar-free’. There’s no evidence to suggest these foods offer any benefits over eating a healthy balanced diet.
- Keep your weight within or near to the healthy weight range for your height by matching the amount of food you eat with the amount you burn up each day
The closer you are to a healthy body weight the more likely you will be able to control and, possibly reverse, your risks of type 2 diabetes.
It is important not to get too overwhelmed by thinking about weight loss. Studies have shown that losing just 5-10% of your body weight will significantly improve your blood sugar levels as well as your cardiovascular health.