Diabetes Diet

A diabetes dietary plan involves following a balanced diet to help you manage your condition and your blood glucose levels. You will need to eat sufficiently and often enough to prevent your blood sugars falling too low (hypoglycaemia) and you will need to avoid certain foods and overeating to prevent your blood glucose levels rising too high (hyperglycaemia). In preparing your healthy eating plan, there are a number of considerations:

  • Plan regular meals and snacks. Try to avoid stretches longer than four or five hours between eating
  • Manage your portion sizes and try to avoid overeating at meal times, which could cause your blood sugars to rise.
  • Set your daily calorie target level. This will depend on your gender and whether you whether you want to maintain your weight or lose weight.
  • Be aware of the types of food that you should be including in your diabetes diet and which you should try and avoid.

Based on this, and your individual tastes, it is then easy to create a diabetes diet plan that works for you and will help you control and stabilise your blood glucose levels.

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What is available to eat?

Each day you should try and include the following items in your diet.

Fruit and Vegetables

It is recommended that you include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables in your daily diabetes diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibres and are low in calories and fats. One simple piece of advice, to help make sure you are getting enough fruit and vegetables in your diet, is to try and make your plate as colourful as possible.

Starchy Carbohydrates

Including some starchy carbohydrates in each meal will help regulate blood sugar levels. These can be breads, rice, pastas, cereals, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Some starchy carbohydrates are better than others; they are more slowly digested and will help keep your blood sugars from fluctuating during the day. These are referred to as low GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates and examples include:

  • Wholegrain or multigrain breads
  • Porridge oats, oat based cereals and unsweetened mueslis
  • High fibre breakfast cereals such as bran flakes
  • Basmati or brown rice
  • Whole wheat pastas

Proteins

Meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts and beans are all great sources of protein and help replace and build muscle. You should add some food from this group to your diet daily, and try and include at least one to two portions of oily fish, high in Omega 3, to your diet weekly.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods are a fantastic source of calcium and should be included in your diet daily, in moderation. Watch out for dairy foods that are high in fat or have added sugars. Try and stick to low-fat options.

What to avoid

Try and avoid or minimise the following foods in your diet.

Fatty foods

Avoid foods that are very high in saturated fats such as butter and oils. Try and avoid fried foods, full fat cheeses and milk, fatty meats and creamy dressings. Instead try and swap them for unsaturated and low-fat alternatives such as skimmed milks, cottage cheeses, low fat yogurts, lean meats and low fat oils and spreads.

Sugary Foods

Consuming too many foods that are high in sugar content can cause your blood glucose levels to rise. Try and avoid sugar, fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolates, sugary spreads, sugar coated cereals and processed foods with high levels of added sugar.

Salt

Try and limit your salt intake as this can cause your blood pressure to rise. Avoid adding it to meals and try replacing it with herbs and spices for flavouring in cooking. Avoided processed foods with high levels of added salt and avoid salt substitutes like 'Lo Salt'.

Sample meal planners

Based on your own tastes, you should plan out your meals to incorporate these essential healthy foods and minimise unhealthy foods. Here are some great meal and snack ideas that are great inclusions in a diabetes diet.

Breakfast

  • Low-fat yogurt with berries, apricots and prunes
  • Multigrain toast with a small scraping of peanut butter
  • Poached egg and avocado on brown bread
  • Unsweetened muesli or porridge

Lunch

  • Chicken and avocado salad
  • Smoked salmon on brown bread
  • Vegetable soup
  • Pitta bread with cottage cheese and salad

Dinner

  • Grilled fish served with sweet potato and green beans
  • Vegetable pasta bake
  • Couscous and shrimp
  • Chicken and spinach with brown rice

Snacks

  • Apple, banana or pear
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Cottage cheese with carrot sticks

If you have diabetes you can still enjoy many of the same foods that you used to. Once you understand the principles of the types of foods you need to include daily and the types of foods you need to minimise, you can create tasty meal plans and enjoy a diabetes diet that still incorporates many of your favourite foods. Just remember to watch your daily calorie count target and your portion sizes.