Along with medication, nutrition is integral for blood glucose control. For Type 1 diabetes, a consistent amount of carbohydrates at set times throughout the day is key. For Type 2 diabetes, a diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables is recommended, in addition to limiting refined carbohydrates (sweets, sugars, products made with white flour), high fat foods, saturated fats (mostly from animal products e.g. meat, chicken skin and full cream dairy), and avoiding sugary drinks.
Your diet should be varied and consist mostly of whole, unprocessed foods.
Aim for two fruit and three cups of vegetables daily; include legumes (lentils, beans) two to three times a week; choose wholegrains daily; include fish twice a week; eat red meat sparingly, choosing lean cuts when you do; and limit salt (sodium) intake.
This approach also promotes heart health and will help you reach micronutrient and antioxidant targets needed for optimal hormone and energy production and for reducing oxidative damage to your organs respectively.
If you are overweight, eating moderate portions will also assist in weight loss. Even a 5% reduction in weight can improve blood glucose control and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, a common comorbidity of diabetes.
It’s important to keep on enjoying food. Try shifting your focus from what you can’t have to choosing foods that nourishes your body.
Content supplied by Liezel Engelbrecht (Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson)
Find a registered dietitian at www.adsa.org.za