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 consuming alcohol combined with some diabetes medication. This happens because the liver is responsible

Bread

Breads are usually made from flour of a grain, including grains, like wheat, maize or corn, rye, oat, etc. Grains contain starchy carbohydrates which break down into glucose

Beverages

Water remains the best for hydration when you have diabetes. Adding lemon juice can add some freshness without adding calories or sugar. Sugar-free cold drinks are still recommended

Carbs

What are carbs? Carbohydrates, fat and protein are the three major nutrients found in food.  Carbohydrates can be classified in different ways but essentially there are two main

Diabetes SA endorsed products

Any food product which has the Diabetes SA logo on it is safe for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients to consume in the recommended serving

Dairy and dairy alternatives

Milk contains a carbohydrate sugar, called lactose, and all carbohydrates will break down into glucose in the bloodstream (and rise blood glucose). This means that milk is not

Exercise

Regular exercise can help to manage your blood glucose. It can also help to manage weight and may also reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, reduce

Glucose tolerance

One of the main reasons why there is no clearly defined one-size-fits-all diabetes diet, is because diabetes affects everybody differently. Often you will find that one person can

Glycaemic index

All carbohydrates will break down into glucose in the bloodstream and raise blood glucose. How much they raise blood glucose will depend on how quickly they break down

Hypoglycaemia

Everyone has different symptoms of a hypo, but the most common signs are trembling and shaking, feeling disorientated, sweating, being anxious or irritable, going pale, palpitation and a

Insulin and food

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in the body. Its main role in the body is to regulate blood glucose levels.  After you eat, carbohydrates break

Jams

There are three main ingredients in jam: fruit, pectin and sucrose (table) sugar. When the three ingredients are heated together, the sugar molecules link onto water and allow

Ketones

Glucose is the primary source of energy in the body. When the body does not get glucose, it will start to use fat instead. When this happens, chemicals,

Labels

It’s important to understand the food label of a product so that you are able to distinguish between unhealthy and healthier options.  1. Read the nutrition information table

Nuts

Nuts (tree nuts and peanuts) are nutrient dense foods. They are rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory unsaturated fatty acids, fibre and antioxidants. Studies have associated nut consumption with a

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for many functions in the body. The omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are found

Protein

Protein is one of the three major nutrients found in food. Just like a carbohydrate is made up of links of glucose, so protein is made up of

Recipes

You could successfully convert your favourite high sugar recipes by a little experimentation. Try the following substitutions. If you know the function of the ingredients in a recipe,

Supplements

It’s always best to let the food you eat provide your vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of food. Supplements should never replace standard diabetes treatment.  Just

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes and sweeteners include naturally occurring sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. Just because a sugar is naturally occurring doesn’t make it a better choice in diabetes.

Tips for snacking

Most people with diabetes may be able to tolerate 15g of carbohydrates for a snack. Having more carbohydrates between meals often will mean that your blood glucose is

Vegetables

Not only do vegetables add colour and texture to a plate, but they are highly nutritious and rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are convenient and easily

Weight loss

More than 90% of patients with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or are obese (people with Type 1 are sometimes underweight). Weight gain and obesity worsen insulin resistance

Your journey

Diabetes is a tricky disease since something that works for one person may not necessarily work for another person. Also, something that may have worked for you in

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