Welcome to the 2021 AtoZ of Healthy Eating

Having lived with diabetes for over 15 years, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to achieve and maintain blood glucose control with good lifestyle habits, especially when all my resistance crumbles when tempted with delicious food.

There are different types of diabetes, and no two people with diabetes are the same. So, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all diabetes diet for everyone with diabetes. 

What does eating right mean for you?

If you have Type 1 diabetes, carb counting is really important to keep your blood glucose levels steady. This is where you estimate how many carbs are in your meal and match it with how much insulin you need to take. Start reading labels and familiarise yourself with apps that help estimate the carbs in the portion of foods you are eating.

If you have Type 2 and you are overweight, losing weight can help to lower your blood glucose and reduce your risk of other complications, and losing substantial weight can possibly even lead to your doctor taking you off diabetes medication and managing your diabetes with diet and exercise alone. There are many different ways of doing this but you need to choose a diet strategy that you think you’ll be able to sustain long-term so that you don’t regain all of the weight.

Whether you have Type 1 or 2, you might need to lose, gain or maintain your current weight but it’s important to make healthier food choices while you’re doing this.

Portion sizes are important to think about. It makes calculating nutritional facts when you’re carb counting or managing your weight a lot easier. Remember, portion sizes are different for everyone, so what’s right for someone else might not be right for you.

If you feel overwhelmed about food and diabetes, we hope this AtoZ of Healthy Eating will help you. After all knowledge is power.

Cheers to better blood glucose!

Tammy Jardine
Registered Dietitian



AtoZ of Healthy Eating 2021

Alcohol

The biggest concern of alcohol in diabetes is hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), which can happen when

Bread

Breads are usually made from flour of a grain, including grains, like wheat, maize or corn,

Beverages

Water remains the best for hydration when you have diabetes. Adding lemon juice can add some

Carbs

What are carbs? Carbohydrates, fat and protein are the three major nutrients found in food.  Carbohydrates

Diabetes SA endorsed products

Any food product which has the Diabetes SA logo on it is safe for both Type

Dairy and dairy alternatives

Milk contains a carbohydrate sugar, called lactose, and all carbohydrates will break down into glucose in

Exercise

Regular exercise can help to manage your blood glucose. It can also help to manage weight

Glucose tolerance

One of the main reasons why there is no clearly defined one-size-fits-all diabetes diet, is because

Glycaemic index

All carbohydrates will break down into glucose in the bloodstream and raise blood glucose. How much

Hypoglycaemia

Everyone has different symptoms of a hypo, but the most common signs are trembling and shaking,

Insulin and food

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in the body. Its main role in the

Jams

There are three main ingredients in jam: fruit, pectin and sucrose (table) sugar. When the three

Ketones

Glucose is the primary source of energy in the body. When the body does not get

Labels

It’s important to understand the food label of a product so that you are able to

Nuts

Nuts (tree nuts and peanuts) are nutrient dense foods. They are rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory unsaturated

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for many functions

Protein

Protein is one of the three major nutrients found in food. Just like a carbohydrate is

Recipes

You could successfully convert your favourite high sugar recipes by a little experimentation. Try the following

Supplements

It’s always best to let the food you eat provide your vitamins and minerals by eating

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes and sweeteners include naturally occurring sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. Just because a

Tips for snacking

Most people with diabetes may be able to tolerate 15g of carbohydrates for a snack. Having

Vegetables

Not only do vegetables add colour and texture to a plate, but they are highly nutritious

Weight loss

More than 90% of patients with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or are obese (people with

Your journey

Diabetes is a tricky disease since something that works for one person may not necessarily work