Advice For Type 2 Diabetics

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, although is becoming more common in children and young people. Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95% of all those with the condition.

Nutrition can prevent, control and put you in remission from type 2 diabetes. Many of the healthy eating tips for those with type 2 diabetes are based around weight loss if overweight, controlling blood sugar levels and keeping the heart healthy. Here are some simple dos and don’ts.

Advice for Type 2 Diabetics

1. Don’t forget that total carbohydrate intake counts

All carbohydrate-rich foods cause your blood sugar (aka blood glucose) levels to rise, regardless of how healthy the source is. Some carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to rise slowly while some cause it to rise quickly. Therefore all diabetics need to be aware of the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates they are eating. Plants contain carbohydrate, in varying degrees. It’s important that you’re carbohydrate-savvy and know your portions.

For example, fruit is a healthy food that is rich in vitamins, fibre and phytocompounds. Fruit also contains carbohydrate. Therefore if you are a diabetic, despite fruit being super healthy, eating lots of fruit in one sitting is not advisable.

2. Eat your fruit, don’t drink it

The carbohydrate within fruit is released into your blood stream slower than the carbohydrate within fruit juice as your body has to process the fruit before it can be absorbed. By process it I mean it has to mechanically break down the likes of the crunchy apple into tiny pieces using your teeth and your stomach muscles. This gives digestive juices greater access to the food so that it can chemically break it down to be absorbed. When you drink juice no mechanical digestion is needed. The digestive juices can act fast and absorb it quickly, causing a quick rise in blood sugar levels. Sticking to the example of the apple, when you eat an apple, you often eat just one. When you drink apple juice, you often drink the juice of four. This is why it’s best to eat your fruit rather than drink it.

3. Don’t eat sweets often

Fruit is a healthy food that along with many important health-boosting nutrients provides carbohydrate in the form of simple sugar to your body. Due to the sugar content, those with diabetes need to be mindful of how much fruit they eat, and how much at any one time. However, they do not need to cut fruit out of their diet as fruit, as well as vegetables, protects the body from ill-health. Sweets, on the other hand, provide sugar, but provide no beneficial nutrients to the body. Therefore if someone with diabetes were to seriously reduce the amount of sweets they ate, as well as things like biscuits, cakes and other treats their body would be a healthier place. So those with diabetes, just like the rest of us, shouldn’t eat sweets often.

4. Don’t forget to check for added sugars

Natural wholefoods have not been tampered with by man therefore they do not have sugar added to them.

Processed foods, on the other hand, can contain added sugars. In order to see how much sugar your food contains, look at the packet for the nutritional information.

You’ll see the sugar content listed as ‘of which sugars’. Your aim is to eat foods with less than 5g of sugar per 100g. Some healthy foods are naturally higher in sugar.

So be sure to look at the ingredients to see if your food naturally contains sugar or has sugar added to it. It’s the added sugars that you’re aiming to reduce. But be aware, sugar has many names, so look out for the words ‘sugar’, ‘syrup’, ‘honey’ and words ending in ‘-ose’.

5. Do eat more fiber

It’s a safe assumption that you’re not eating enough fibre. We need 24g-35g of fiber every day and 80% of us do not eat this amount.

General guidance such as ‘eat wholegrain carbohydrates’ often doesn’t increase your fibre intake enough. So how do you make real gains? Here are some simple every day ideas.

  • Go from white bread to wholemeal bread and bump up your fibre intake by 2g. However, change your butter to peanut butter and your jam to mashed strawberries and you’ll be eating 6g more fibre.
  • Instead of getting mayo and lettuce in your lunchtime sandwich, get guacamole, peppers and cucumber for a 4g bump.
  • Change from white rice to brown rice and you bump up your fibre by 2g. However, halve your rice portion and add in half a tin of chickpeas and you’ve bumped it up by 9g.
  • Add some seeds to a yoghurt as a mid-morning snack and enjoy a handful of nuts at your mid-afternoon snack for a 5g boost.

6. Go Au Natural

A good rule of thumb is when you choose what carbohydrates to eat, pick those that look similar to how they looked when they grew out of the ground. They’re often more nutritious and can be lower in carbs and cals. The humble spud is a perfect example. Six baby new potatoes (about 200g worth) is only 130kcal and 30g carbs. It’s a portion of carbs that most people would be content with. To put it into perspective, pasta contains about 250 to 350kcal per standard portion (150-200g cooked) and contains about 50-70g carbs. It’s not a case of never eating pasta again. It’s more an encouragement to eat our carb-rich plants more often than processed carbohydrates.

7. Combine your food for better Glycaemic Load (GL)

The glycaemic load considers the amount a meal impacts your blood sugar levels. To help lower the GL of your meals in a diabetic-friendly manner lean protein and veg need to become your new best pals. At the very least, both lunch and dinner need to be based on these two. This doesn’t mean living off boiled chicken and steamed broccoli.

There are many healthy protein sources and a lovely variety of vegetables that can become your staples.