Healthy eating can be challenging for anyone, and it can be especially difficult for people with diabetes.
Glucose enters the bloodstream when carbs, such as rice, bread or potatoes, are digested. With rising blood glucose levels after meals, insulin starts to secrete. Insulin helps glucose get into cells to be used for energy.
The excess glucose is converted to glycogen and fats for future use. So, eating healthy with diabetes is extremely important.
1. Add more non-starchy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are a great source of fibre, which helps you feel full and lowers blood sugar levels. Try adding spinach or kale to salads or other meals. They are a boost of nutrients including folate, vitamin K and iron.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are excellent sources of glucosinolates that may help prevent cancer as well as antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene (an antioxidant). These veggies also contain indole-3-carbinol which can help block the action of estrogen in your body, so it doesn’t fuel the growth of breast cancer cells.
2. Eat less
Diabetes is a disease that requires you to manage your intake of calories carefully. The excess will be stored as fat if you consume more calories than your body uses. This can lead to poor control of diabetes, thus increasing the risk of complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness.
Eat slower and in smaller portions so that the brain has time to register satiety signals from the gut before you continue eating or drinking more than you need at each meal or snack.
This will help keep blood sugar levels under control throughout the day by avoiding large spikes in insulin production, which cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
3. Choose complex carbohydrates
The best way to eat carbohydrates is in their complex form. This means you should avoid simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and white pasta, which can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Instead, opt for whole grains (like brown rice or quinoa), vegetables and fruits that contain plenty of fibre. Examples include quinoa (1 cup cooked = 9 grams of total carbohydrate), lentils (¼ cup cooked = 8 grams of total carbohydrate) and broccoli (½ cup raw = 5 grams of total carbohydrate).
You should also be careful about how much processed food you consume. Processed foods tend to have high amounts of added sugars or refined grains that are bad for your health, whether you have diabetes or not!
4. Add more fibres to the diet
The health benefits of fibre are numerous. It can help lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and help you feel full. Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends that those with diabetes consume about 25 to 30 grams of fibre each day.
When it comes to eating healthy in diabetes management, there are many things you should know about what foods have the most impact on lowering your glucose levels (blood sugar). We’ve made a list of 7 easy tips that will help make sure you’re getting enough nutrition while controlling your blood sugar levels:
5. Choose healthy fats
Fats are an important source of energy for your body, but not all fats are created equally. Healthy fats help protect your heart and blood vessels, while others can damage them.
Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil are all healthy cooking choices because they are high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind). Avocados and nuts also contain monounsaturated fat.
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids which may help lower the risk of diabetes-related complications. Eggs also contain some omega-3 fatty acids, but they should be eaten in moderation due to their high cholesterol content.
6. Limit salt
Salt is another major contributor to high blood pressure, so it’s important for people with diabetes to limit their intake. Salt is found in many foods, including processed foods. Sodium, which makes up about 40 per cent of salt by weight, is added to almost all commercially processed foods. Fast food and packaged snack foods are particularly high in sodium.
If you’re not sure how much sodium your diet contains—or how much other nutrients you’re consuming—use one of the many free online food-tracking programs available (like MyFitnessPal) to keep track of what you eat and drink throughout the day.
7. Watch portion sizes
Portion sizes are important because they affect how much insulin you need.
Portion sizes are based on the number of calories in the food, not on its size or shape.
Your body doesn’t know when you’re eating a “portion”; it just knows it’s getting the energy it needs to function. So, while a small amount of food may be enough to fill your stomach, if that small amount has too many calories, your blood sugar could rise quickly and cause problems later on—or even right away. This is why watching both portion sizes and carb counts closely are important!
8. Drink plenty of water
Drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least 8 glasses/day). Hydration helps keep your body in balance by regulating blood glucose levels and aiding digestion.
If you are dehydrated from drinking less than usual or exercising strenuously without drinking enough water beforehand, thirst signals may not be strong enough for your brain or body organs like kidneys and liver—especially during times of stress such as illness or injury recovery—to realize that they need more fluid intake until symptoms start appearing later on down the road
The Bottom Line
A healthy lifestyle is key to the management of diabetes which includes a healthy diet and regular physical exercises.
Non-starchy green leafy vegetables should form at least 50% of the diet. Quarter can be formed from complex carbs. Protein-containing foods especially lean meat can form the other quarter.