Healthy eating

Individualised nutritional advice should be given by a registered dietitian. These approaches should be based on metabolic goals and a holistic assessment of your desires, and respectful of your ethnic, cultural and socio-economic needs. 

A variety of different dietary approaches have shown to be effective in diabetes management, including low-fat-, low-glycaemic index-, low- carbohydrate (carb)- and Mediterranean diets. Evidence doesn’t suggest that any one diet offers greater weight loss or improvements in glycaemic control.

Low-carb, high-fat diets require special attention due to their increasing popularity. Studies have shown promising results on decreasing glucose and HbA1c in diets that contain about 130g of carbs a day.

Monitoring and regulating carbohydrate (carb) intake remains a key strategy for glycaemic control. Carbohydrate intake (both quality and quantity) should be individualised and guided by personal glucose control targets. A dietitian will help assess how many carbs your body can tolerate and then help you to attain a healthy balanced eating plan.

Carbohydrates from wholegrains, legumes, milk, vegetables and fruit should be used instead of refined carbohydrates with added sugar, fats and sodium.

It remains a general health recommendation that saturated fat be limited. If a high fat diet is followed, the fat should come mostly from unsaturated fat from plant sources.

The overall quality of the prescribed eating plan should be considered. The synergistic effect from a variety of nutrients reduces the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes.

What constitutes as a quality eating plan?

The recommendation The reason
High intake of fruit and vegetables: Minimum of five portions per day (2 fruit and 3 veg, ½ cup is one portion). They provide fibre that enhances the feeling of fullness. Phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals combat oxidative stress which causes disease progression and reduces longevity.
Starchy foods should be wholegrain: corn, barley, pearl-wheat, rolled oats, unrefined maize, wild/brown rice and wholegrain breads. Contain B-vitamins, vitamin E and fibre that improve glycaemic control and enhance satiety.
Eat more fish, especially fatty fish with a high omega 3 content, such as sardines. Aim for two servings of 100g a week. Low saturated fat content, good source of protein, omega 3-fatty acids, selenium, magnesium and 

vitamin D.

Eat more legumes, including soya beans, a variety of dry beans, lentils and chickpeas. Promote healthy cholesterol and are a good source of fibre and protein.
Use low-fat, sugar-free dairy products. Provide calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium. Good source of protein with a low saturated fat content.
Eat more vegetable sources of fat like nuts and seeds, avocado pear, olives, plant oils (canola, olive, sunflower). Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Reduce intake of commercially hydrogenated fats; commercially deep-fried foods, fast foods and baked items contain high amounts 

of trans fatty acids.

Trans fatty acids raise total and bad LDL cholesterol, decrease good HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation.
Reduce intake of processed meats and fatty red meat: bacon, all types of sausages, polony and deli meats. High content of salt, nitrates, haem-iron and 

saturated fat.

Reduce intake of sugars: table sugar, honey, sugar sweetened beverages, fruit juices, sweets, desserts and baked goods. Poor nutrient content contributes to poor glycaemic control, lipid profiles, obesity and inflammation.
If alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation: wine, spirits, beer etc. One unit* per day for women and two units per day for men.  A high intake aggravates glycaemic control, hypertension, and triglycerides.
Try not to add salt to food. The incidences of hypertension and heart disease are increased with high sodium diets.
Vitamin supplements should only be taken if you have a proven deficiency. There is no evidence to support the routine use of such products.
Non-nutritive sweeteners Reduce overall calorie and carbohydrate intake if substituted for sugar or honey. They are considered safe if used in moderation. 

*One unit of alcohol is equivalent to either: 340ml beer/cider; 120ml wine; 25ml spirits.

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