Nutrition for diabetes

Food has a direct effect on blood glucose levels. Some foods increase blood glucose levels more than others. To successfully manage your diabetes, you need to know what foods you can eat and in what amounts, and follow a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and helps control your blood glucose levels. You can’t forget to take this medication, either, if you were prescribed it by a specialist. Foods contain 3 main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

CarbohydratesCarbohydrates are the starches, sugars, and fiber in foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and sweets. They raise blood glucose levels faster and more than other nutrients found in foods – proteins and fats. Knowing which foods have carbohydrates and how many carbohydrates are in the food is useful for controlling blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates from sources such as vegetables, fruits and coarse grains (rich in fiber) are preferable to carbohydrates from sources with added sugars, fat and salt.

Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and relieves your hunger. Unlike carbohydrates, they do not raise blood glucose levels. However, you need to control the portion size of foods containing proteins to avoid gaining excess weight. In people with type 2 diabetes, protein makes insulin work faster, so don’t try to manage low blood glucose levels with protein shakes and blends. Using 15 grams of quick glucose-containing carbohydrates, such as juice, other sugary drinks, glucose gel or tablets, is the preferred way to treat low blood sugar.

Fats are an essential part of a balanced diet. Fats found in oily fish, nuts, and seeds are especially helpful. They do not raise blood glucose levels, but they are high in calories and can cause weight gain.

Aim to include all 3 types of nutrients in your meals to balance your diet.

Making healthy food choices
Your dietitian or diabetes counselor can help you develop a meal plan that works for you and fits into your lifestyle.

Some recommendations for healthy eating:
A healthy diet for a person with diabetes is a healthy diet for his or her entire family.

Enjoy your meals by eating healthy foods with appropriate portion sizes on a regular basis. Your doctor can help you learn how to choose healthy foods and the right portion sizes.
Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods at every meal, including healthy fats, lean meats or proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products in appropriate amounts.
Choose fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains (bran, wholemeal pasta, brown rice) as often as possible.
Try replacing meat with lentils, beans or tofu.
Drink low-calorie drinks, such as sugar-free tea or coffee, and water.
Incorporate sweeteners into your diet.
Choose foods with a lower salt content.
The ability to visually assess portion size is in your hands
Choose foods and amounts based on your blood glucose levels. If you eat more than you need, your blood glucose levels will rise. Knowing how to properly size your portions is very important for successful diabetes management. Fortunately, the tool for this is always at your fingertips – your palms.