Diabetic diet: how to eat to protect your future health

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  • This diabetic diet promises major health benefits for all!

    If you have diabetes then watching your waistline is key to protecting your future health. Following this diabetic diet plan will allow you to lose weight and give you a whole new lease of life!

    It’s really no different than your average healthy diet as, in general, people with diabetes should eat the same diet that is recommended for everyone – one that is low in fat, salt and sugar, includes starchy carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

    What is Diabetes?

    Diabetes is a condition where your body can’t use glucose (sugar) properly. There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

    With Type 1, the body doesn’t produce any of the hormone insulin that helps regulate how much glucose is in the blood. This type usually develops before the age of 40 and is treated with insulin injections, diet and physical activity.

    With Type 2, not enough insulin is produced or the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly. Traditionally, Type 2 diabetes was only seen in people over 40 but due to increasing levels of obesity, it is now appearing in younger people.

    Type 2 diabetes is treated with diet and physical activity with the addition of pills or insulin as the condition progresses.

    What you eat is an extremely important part of managing both types of diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s vital to keep your weight under control so a healthy diet, together with regular exercise, will help you do that too.

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    How many people could benefit from the diabetic diet?

    According to Diabetes UK, around 2.2 million people in the UK have diabetes and up to a further 750,000 people may have Type 2 diabetes without even realising it.

    The number of children with diabetes has tripled in the last 30 years.

    Not only will a healthy diabetic diet plan help keep your blood glucose levels stable, it will help you maintain a healthy weight too.

    Around 80 per cent of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight. In fact, a healthy diabetic diet could prevent or delay you getting Type 2 diabetes in the first place.

    What are the drawbacks of the Diabetic Diet?


    If you have diabetes, the diabetic diet really is vital in helping to keep you healthy.

    Food for diabetics

    The following information is provided by Diabetes UK, the UK’s leading charity working for people with diabetes.

    1. Eat three regular meals a day. Avoid skipping meals and spread your breakfast, lunch and evening meal over the day. This will not only help control your appetite but also help in controlling your blood glucose levels.

    2. At each meal include starchy carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, chapattis, potatoes, yam, noodles, rice and cereals. The amount of carbohydrate you eat is important to control your blood glucose levels. All varieties are fine but try to include those that are more slowly absorbed (have a lower glycaemic index) as these won’t affect your blood glucose levels as much.

    Better choices include:

    • Pasta
    • Basmati or easy cook rice
    • Grainy breads such as granary, pumpernickel and rye
    • New potatoes, sweet potato and yam
    • Porridge oats,
    • All Bran and natural muesli.
    Diabetic diet

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    The high fibre varieties of starchy foods will also help to maintain the health of your digestive system and prevent problems such as constipation.

    3. Cut down on the fat you eat, particularly saturated fats as this type of fat is linked to heart disease. Choose unsaturated fats or oils, especially monounsaturated fat (eg olive oil and rapeseed oil) as these types of fats are better for your heart. All fats contain calories. Fat is the greatest source of calories so eating less fat and fatty foods will help you to lose weight.

    Here are some tips to cutting the fat:

    • Use less saturated fat by having less butter, margarine, cheese and fatty meats.
    • Choose lower fat dairy foods such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low fat or diet yogurts, reduced fat cheese and lower fat spreads.
    • Grill steam or oven bake instead of frying or cooking with oil or other fats.
    • Watch out for creamy sauces and dressings and swap for tomato based sauces instead.

    4. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Aim for at least five servings in total a day to provide you with vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as to help you balance your overall diet.

    A portion is for example:

    • a whole banana or apple
    • a slice of melon
    • two plums
    • a handful of grapes
    • a cereal bowl of salad
    • 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables.

    5. Include more beans and lentils such as kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas, red and green lentils, as these can help to control your blood glucose levels and blood fats. Try adding them to stews, casseroles and soups, or to a salad.

    Diabetic diet foods: beans, pulses and lentils

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    6. Aim for at least two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish contains a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega 3 which helps protect against heart disease. Eat oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and pilchards.

    7. Limit sugar and sugary foods. This does not mean you need to eat a sugar-free diet. Sugar can be used in foods and in baking as part of a healthy diet. However, use sugar-free, no added sugar or diet squashes and fizzy drinks, as sugary drinks cause blood glucose levels to rise quickly.

    8. Reduce salt in your diet to 6g or less a day – more than this can raise your blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart disease. Limit the amount of processed foods you eat and try flavouring foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.

    9. Drink alcohol in moderation only, that’s a maximum of two units of alcohol per day for a woman and three units per day for a man. For example, a pub measure (25ml) of spirit or half a pint of normal strength beer is about one unit. Over the years the alcohol content of most drinks has gone up. A drink can now contain more units that you think – a pint of premium lager can contain as much as 3 units, and a small glass of wine (175ml) around 2 units. Remember alcohol contains empty calories so think about cutting back further if you are trying to lose weight. Never drink on an empty stomach, as alcohol can make hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) more likely to occur when taking certain diabetes medication. Never drink and drive.

    10. Don’t be tempted by diabetic foods or drinks. They offer no benefit to people with diabetes. They:

    • Are expensive
    • Contain just as much fat and calories as the ordinary versions
    • Can have a laxative effect
    • Will still affect your blood glucose levels.

    Breakfast: Bowl of porridge made with semi skimmed milk or two slices of wholemeal toast with marmalade Mid-morning snack: A banana
    Lunch: Granary bread sandwich with ham, tomato and lettuce. Fresh fruit salad Afternoon snack: One low fat yoghurt or some berries
    Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with vegetables and new potatoes. Small bowl of ice cream (not low-fat) for pudding

    Following the diabetic diet plan

    It is essential that people with diabetes take regular physical exercise as well as eating a healthy, balanced diet. Diabetes UK recommends you do at least 30 mins of physical activity five times a week. You should do enough to leave you at least slightly out of breath.

    Consult your GP before embarking on any new physical activity.