There are many misconceptions surrounding diabetes and so-called ‘diets’. The Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE) shares some healthy tips that can help you stay on top of a healthy eating plan when living with diabetes.
You don’t have to go on a ‘diet’
Specialists in diabetes from the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE), tend to avoid the word ‘diet’ like the plague, as this tends to suggest an externally imposed regimen of eating. They know that this can never work. While we should strive to achieve a healthy nutritious balance when it comes to meals, it is also important to remember that what is appropriate and acceptable will differ for each person.
So, healthy eating in the context of type 2 diabetes does not mean that you should ‘diet’. Rather work with the dietitian in your diabetes team to help craft a nutritional approach and eating plan that is tailored to your lifestyle and nutritional and health goals (e.g. reducing your waist and improving your blood pressure and cholesterol profile). Importantly, the negotiated eating plan must be enjoyable and sustainable, while supporting your health needs.
Start including exercise
Exercising is a part of staying healthy and managing your blood glucose levels. It is also a great way to help reduce your risk of developing other illnesses that can put your health at risk. Going for a walk, jogging or doing light movements for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, can help improve your health. Make sure to check with your doctor, dietitian or biokineticist before taking on any strenuous activities.
Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables
Vegetables are high in fibre and low in calories. They also contain phytonutrients or plant chemicals that help to repair the body from daily damage and build up a good immune system. Although fruits contain these properties too, they also contain natural sugars which can raise your blood glucose levels.
Therefore, it is important to control portion sizes of all kinds of fruit! As part of an overall balanced meal plan, fruit and vegetables can help with the management of weight, diabetes, high blood pressure as well as keeping our hearts healthy.
Switch over to lean meat or just eat less meat
If you are living with diabetes, making smart food choices can help you manage your condition better and improve the health of your heart and bank balance. Reduce saturated fat intake by swopping red, fatty and processed meat with protein-rich legumes such as chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils, as well as with white meat, such as chicken and fish.
Limit your intake of red meat to twice a week and choose the leaner, healthier versions without any visible fat. Always remember to boil, grill or bake meat instead of frying it.
Reduce your salt intake
It is crucial to reduce your intake of salt, even if you do not have diabetes. If your food already has added salt, avoid putting on more at the table. Adding more salt can lead to high blood pressure and heart and kidney conditions. Try adding natural herbs and spices that don’t contain salt to really bring out the flavour in your meals, instead of opting for commercial sauces and gravies that have a high salt content.
Choose the quantity and quality of carbohydrates wisely
To boost your health, choose good quality, minimally processed, high fibre sources such as brown and wholegrain carbohydrates instead of refined, white carbohydrates with added sugar, fat and salt. Because all carbohydrates tend to raise blood glucose levels, controlling the portion sizes of these carbohydrates is critical.