How Should A Type 2 Diabetic Eat – The key to treating type 2 diabetes is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, making healthy food choices, and being as active as possible every day.
A healthy diet for people with diabetes is no different from what is recommended for everyone – there is no such thing as a diabetic diet! To learn more about healthy food choices, watch our healthy eating video.
How Should A Type 2 Diabetic Eat
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the main nutrients found in food, and they all give us energy (which is measured in kilojoules or calories). It’s important to know which foods contain these nutrients and how they affect your blood sugar levels and overall health.
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Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body, especially the brain. When your body digests carbohydrates, it breaks them down into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. Increases the level of glucose in the blood.
Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and these foods also provide other important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The amount of carbohydrates you eat at meals and snacks has the biggest effect on blood sugar levels. Read more about carbohydrate foods and the glycemic index in the sections above.
Protein in our diet is another source of energy and a key nutrient that helps the body grow and regenerate. Proteins are broken down into amino acids in the digestive tract so they can be absorbed. Protein doesn’t break down into glucose, so it doesn’t directly raise blood sugar levels.
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There are certain foods that contain both protein and carbohydrates and can also raise blood sugar levels. These foods are:
Try to get some protein with each meal, which will help fuel your body and give you the nutrients you need to build and maintain muscle mass—especially important if you’re trying to maintain your weight.
Fats are broken down into fatty acids and are another source of energy in food. Fatty acids are an important part of all cells in the body, they also help you store energy and provide insulation. Fat also allows the body to absorb certain vitamins found in food. Like proteins, fats don’t break down into glucose, so they don’t directly raise blood sugar levels.
Of all the nutrients, fat contains the most kilojoules, so it’s important not to eat more than you need. Eating too much fat can lead to weight gain, which can make diabetes more difficult to manage.
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* Denotes sources of saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels, so limit your intake of this type of fat.
The type of fat you consume is very important for heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention. It is important to choose mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and oils. Some examples are olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish such as salmon and sardines.
A registered dietitian (APD) is a key part of your diabetes team. Checking your APD regularly helps you check that the foods you eat meet your individual nutritional needs and helps you monitor the effect of your meals on your blood sugar levels. Contact our helpline on 1800 637 700 to speak to a Diabetes Victoria dietitian or visit the Dietitians Australia website to find a dietitian near you.
We run supermarket tours in metropolitan and regional Victoria to make food shopping easy. As part of the two-hour tour, local nutritionists will demonstrate how..
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Developed by our own nutritionists, these resources are designed to be used with your diabetes nutritionist to help you learn to count carbs.
Foods containing carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body, especially the brain. When your body digests carbohydrates, it breaks them down into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. Increases the level of glucose in the blood.
Carbohydrates are nutrients that raise blood glucose levels (BGL). However, this does not mean that you should cut them out of your diet completely, as they are still essential for good health and energy levels.
Each person has different carbohydrate needs based on gender, age, activity level and weight. A registered dietitian (APD) can help you determine how many carbohydrates your body needs and create a meal plan that works for you.
Fiber: The Carb That Helps You Manage Diabetes
In general, blood sugar levels are best controlled by eating small to moderate portions of fiber and/or low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates. Eating roughly the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack (if you choose to snack) helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable throughout the day by avoiding large swings.
For more information on how carb tracking can help you manage your blood glucose levels, read our carb counting fact sheet. You can order carb counting resources developed by Diabetes Victoria nutritionists.
It is better to choose foods rich in carbohydrates that are rich in fiber. Fibers are part of plant foods that the body does not digest and absorb, almost unchanged. Foods rich in fiber have many benefits for your health, including:
Because diabetes is a condition in which there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood, many people feel that they must eliminate all forms of sugar from their diet. Many sugary drinks, chocolates, candies, ice creams, desserts and processed/packaged foods contain large amounts of sugar and should be limited to special occasions.
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A small amount of added sugar can be consumed as part of a meal without significantly raising blood sugar levels. Examples of this may include:
Alternative sweeteners such as Equal, Splenda, Sugarin, Stevia, etc. are not needed to manage diabetes. As mentioned above, adding small amounts of sugar to food does not significantly affect blood sugar levels. It is best to limit all forms of sweeteners (including sugar and alternative sweeteners) to small amounts.
Foods and beverages sweetened with an alternative sweetener are also sometimes accepted, such as diet soft drinks and meals, sugar-free lollipops, etc., as they have no nutritional benefit and can often be replaced with something more nutritious. Foods and drinks such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts and water.
Not all carbohydrate foods have the same effect on blood glucose levels (BGL). Some carbohydrate foods are broken down very quickly and released into the bloodstream, while others are broken down very slowly. The rate at which carbohydrate foods are released into the bloodstream is called the glycemic index (GI). Carbohydrate foods can be classified as low, medium or high GI foods. Low GI foods. Low GI carbohydrate foods are digested more slowly, releasing glucose into the blood more slowly than high GI foods. They are very filling because they stay in the stomach for a long time before being digested. It helps control weight because you are less likely to overeat.
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Examples of low GI foods include traditional oatmeal, dense wholemeal bread, lentils and pulses, sweet potatoes, milk, yogurt, pasta and lots of fresh fruit.
Try to include at least 1 low GI food in each of your meals. Remember that serving size of carbohydrates has the biggest effect on your BGL. Just because a food has a low GI does not mean it can be eaten in large quantities.
High GI foods High GI foods are broken down and released into the bloodstream faster than other carbohydrate foods. They cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly, and often low-GI foods don’t fill you up, so you may feel hungry shortly after eating them.
Examples of high GI foods include white bread, highly processed cereals/low-fiber breakfast cereals, low-grain rice (eg jasmine rice), soft drinks and sweets, and many processed and packaged snacks.
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Some high GI carbohydrates are still nutritious foods such as potatoes and tropical fruits. Just because they have a high GI doesn’t mean you should cut them out – just eat them in small portions.
The University of Sydney Glycemic Index website has more information on glycemic index and values for specific foods. You can also look for the low GI symbol on the packaging when shopping, but not all low GI foods have this symbol. To find out which products have the low GI symbol, check the website.
By law, all packaged food products must have a list of ingredients. Exceptions are small packages and herbs and spices, tea, coffee and bulk foods or foods prepared and packaged at the time of sale. Food labels help you learn more about food choices and help you make healthier food choices.
The Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) tells you the amount
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