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Diabetes Diet - There Is No Secret To An Effective Diabetes Diet

Unfortunately there is no miraculous diabetes diet that a diabetic should follow to control their condition, but the good news is all they have to do is follow the same healthy eating plan as anybody else. A healthy diet for an average person is not nutritionally different from that of a diabetic, it just has a less direct impact on their health.

Four elements of a diabetic diet plan

If you are putting together a diabetes diet, it should have four key goals.  These are firstly making blood sugar easier to control by keeping weight under control, secondly including food with a low glycaemic index, thirdly to limit the amount of saturated fat eaten, and finally to increase your intake of foods high in fibre.  

A diabetes diet should be designed to achieve a healthy weight

There are many benefits to a diabetic of maintaining a healthy weight.  It can limit their risk of heart disease, protect their joints, help them to move more easily, reduce stress and fatigue, and boost their confidence.  The main benefit, however, is blood sugar control.  Being overweight can make maintaining a steady blood sugar level difficult because excess fat prevents the body using insulin effectively.  

Include low glycaemic foods in your diabetes diet

Foods with a low glycaemic index have less impact on blood glucose levels than other foods, making diabetes easier to control. Foods with a low glycaemic index include whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, and people that eat these types of foods regularly tend to have a relatively low body fat level.  

Being aware of the glycaemic index of the food you eat can help you to design an effective diabetes diet, but you should know that this figure can be altered by a number of factors:Diabetes Diet - the method of food preparation is importatnt

  • Other foods eaten in the same meal
  • Your body’s individual response to the food
  • Fats or proteins added to the food
  • The method of food preparation

If you want to know more about planning your meals around the glycaemic index, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician, who will be able to help you put together a personal diabetes diet to suit your individual needs.

Diabetics should reduce their consumption of saturated fats

There are several reasons why diabetics should limit the amount of saturated fats they eat.  As well as causing high cholesterol, saturated fats prevent diabetic bodies from using insulin effectively.  Saturated fats come from a range of animal and plant products as follows:

Animal products to limit in a diabetes diet:

  • Poultry fat
  • Cream, butter, milk and cheese
  • Beef or beef fat
  • Veal, lamb and pork
  • Cooking lard

Plant products to limit in a diabetes diet:

  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Palm oil and palm kernel oil

A diabetes diet should include a high level of fibre

High fibre foods should form part of a diabetes diet because they release glucose into the bloodstream slowly, enabling effective blood sugar control. The amount of fibre in foods tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of processing the food has undergone.  When grains are processed the outer layer is stripped away, shedding fibre as well as vitamins and minerals.  Choose unprocessed foods to get the maximum intake of fibre.

Here are a few high fibre foods that could form part of a diabetes diet :  

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially when skins are eaten as wellDiabetes diet - a few high fibre foods that could form part of a diabetes diet 
  • Potatoes cooked in their skins
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Wholemeal flour
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereals such as bran flakes
  • Wholemeal and granary breads
  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal pasta

Author: Lisa Janse

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