When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes) with diet there is no one diet that suits everyone. But a good starting point is a healthy, balanced diet including foods from all five food groups including whole-grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and lean meat, fish or chicken.
The portion plate above gives you an idea on what makes a good balance at lunch or dinner time, ½ a plate of non-starchy vegetables as much variety as you like, ¼ plate of good quality whole-grains and ¼ plate of lean chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu or legumes (beans).
Blood Glucose Levels
It is very important for people with Type 2 diabetes to get to know what their blood glucose (sugar) levels are throughout the day by learning how to monitor blood glucose and adapt their diet accordingly. This needs to be managed with the help of your GP, Diabetes Educator and Dietitian.
The role of carbohydrates
Food that contains carbohydrate digests to form glucose, the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and the body uses it to supply the muscles with enough energy for all the physiological functions it carries out. Having Type 2 Diabetes means that the glucose our body absorbs cannot be converted to energy in the same way as a person without diabetes. This is because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to clear the glucose from the blood and use it for energy or the insulin is not working as it should.
It is particularly important for individuals to know how much carbohydrate they can tolerate without leaving an excess amount of glucose in the blood. High blood glucose levels cause damage to the blood vessels.
Choosing good quality carbohydrate rich foods
The first step in managing type 2 diabetes with diet is to know which foods contain carbohydrates and to choose good quality carbohydrate rich foods like whole-grains and dairy. These foods need to be eaten in even quantities throughout the day to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Foods that contain carbohydrates include: breads, pasta, cereals, fruit, milk, yoghurt, potato and sweet potato, soft drink and baked foods like cakes, pastries or muffins.
Foods that contain very little or no carbohydrate include: fish, meat, chicken, most vegetables, oils and fats, nuts and seeds.
- It is important to include foods from all 5 five groups to achieve a balanced diet
- Spread carbohydrate load out evenly out throughout the day
- Eat good quality carbohydrates like whole-grains and legumes to maintain energy levels and maintain a good digestive balance.
- Swap high GI (fast release of glucose) foods with low GI foods. For example: swap jasmine rice for basmati rice and white bread for wholegrain
A balanced carbohydrate day may look like this:
- Breakfast: 100g Yoghurt and 1 cup of berries
- Midmorning snack: a piece of fruit
- Lunch: a salad and meat whole-grain sandwich
- In the afternoon: a glass of milk
- At dinner: 1 cup of cooked basmati rice, chicken and vegetable stir-fry
Well controlled diabetes means that you can enjoy a healthy, normal, active life.
For more information about managing type 2 diabetes contact your GP to get a chronic disease management plan.