We can all improve our health by following a nutritious and balanced diet, whether we have diabetes or not. Keeping an eye on the food you eat is especially important if you have diabetes, and that’s because food affects your blood sugar levels a lot. Still, you may be surprised to learn about all the different foods that can be included in the diet of a person with diabetes.
You want to eat in the healthiest way that you can, and what you need is to have a little information, some good self-control, and a whole lot of common sense. But remember that the facts, recipes, and tips you will find here are only the beginning. Your doctor or dietician will give you more information and guidance and to help you develop the best diet and exercise plan just for you
Holiday traditions are important, no matter what your cultural background. You can adjust your carbohydrate intake to enjoy your favourite holiday foods. Based on holiday mealtimes, plan in advance to adjust your insulin and eating schedule. Try to develop healthier recipes for old family favourites. Look through cookbooks and explore using artificial sweeteners and other fat- and carb-reducing tricks.
Good news! It is possible to enjoy the occasional dessert and still manage your diabetes. The best desserts are made with fresh fruit, and fruit-based desserts will add fibre, vitamins and minerals into your meal plan.
As with all things, moderation is the key. Look through your favourite recipes to cut down on the fat and sugar, and explore using low-calorie sweeteners.
Be aware that many desserts and sweets contain not only carbohydrate but also fat and are of higher calories than plain fruit or starchy foods. And you don’t want to indulge too often, as you might eat less of the more nutritious foods in your diet instead.
Make smart carbs choices by selecting the most nutrient options and keeping your portions small. Sweet potatoes, barley, brown rice and whole wheat pasta are good choices as they contain rich vitamins, minerals and fibres. A small portion of starchy foods is about ¼ of your plate – with a depth of about the thickness of your palm. Having small portions can always give you more flexibility to enjoy a greater variety of food and it makes easier to manage your blood glucose level.
In the past, insulin injections may cause strong peaks between meals or during nights, diabetics may have to eat snacks at particular times to prevent hypoglycaemia. Many newer insulins do not peak as much, so you may not need to snack just to maintain your blood glucose level. However, they can often be added into your meal plan.
Taking snacks can help preventing overeating at meals and also provides a constant source of energy for you. However, snacking does not mean having junk food which lacks in nutrients, i.e. low in fibre, vitamins and minerals and high in fat, or an excuse to skip a meal.
Once again, the key to healthy eating is moderation. And don’t forget about the calories. If you control the portion sizes of your snacks, you will be able to eat a wider variety of foods, including your favourites, and still keep your blood sugar in your target range.
If you plan ahead, these healthy snacks can help avoid mindless nibbling or junk food binging.
- 1 piece of fresh fruit
- Small handful of your favourite nuts or seeds
- 6 oz. carton of non-fat yogurt
- Beef jerky
Knowing how to read food labels let you make wiser choices. Food label refers to the section called “Nutrition Facts” on packaged foods.
The Nutrition Facts includes the serving size and the amount of different nutrients such as total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and fibre per serving. The list of ingredients shows the ingredients in descending (high to low) order by weight.
Beware, because the serving on the food label may not be the same as the serving size in your food plan or the serving you normally eat. Remember to multiply the data in Nutrition Facts section by the number of servings you have eaten.
Keep in mind foods labelled as sugar-free, no sugar added, reduced-sugar and dietetic still contain carbohydrate. Bear in mind that carbohydrates include both added and naturally occurring sugars. Added sugar will be listed under the “Sugars” while naturally occurring sugars are included in “Total Carbohydrates”. So if it is important to look at “Total Carbohydrates”. Take raisin as an example, as it contains natural sugars, therefore it still taste very sweet even it is claimed to be “unsweetened” or “no sugar added”.