How to reconcile diet and diabetes
Everyone with diabetes is different and there is no one diet that works for everyone. You can choose to follow different eating habits, such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet. Whichever diet you choose, the idea is to pick foods that will help you manage your blood sugar, manage your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce the risk of complications from diabetes.
There are many things you can do to change or improve your diet. It is important to avoid trying to change too many things at once. Use the information below to choose 1 or 2 things you can do today to help you plan healthier meals. Once you’re comfortable with the new changes, return to this page and choose another healthy eating tip to work on.
1. Monitor your portions
The amount of food you eat is important in managing diabetes. Portion sizes are different for everyone, so what's right for someone else may not be right for you. Canada's Food Guide suggests a way to plan your portions. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit. Diabetics should choose more vegetables than fruits because most vegetables contain less sugar. Divide the other half of your plate between protein foods and whole grain foods. Portion size is an important part of losing weight. If you're overweight or obese, losing weight is the most important and effective way to normalize blood sugar and reduce the risk of other health problems.
The idea is to choose foods that will help you manage your blood sugar
2. Eat healthy carbohydrates
It is true that all carbohydrates affect your blood sugar, but it is a myth that people with diabetes are not "allowed" to eat foods high in carbohydrates. What matters is the type and amount you eat. There are many healthy carbohydrates that are good for your health. Low-glycemic foods such as legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can help control blood sugar, protect you from heart disease and stroke, and make you feel full longer to help you lose weight. Include more of these carbohydrates in your diet.
3. Eat more whole and less highly processed food
Highly processed foods and beverages prepared with excess sodium, sugar and saturated fat. Instead of highly processed foods, choose whole foods and prepare most of your meals at home.
4. Eat more vegetables and fruits
For each meal and as a healthy snack, choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. These are all healthy options. Eat whole or cut vegetables and fruits instead of drinking juice (juices and fruit juice concentrates are high in sugar).
5. Limit sugars and sweets
Limit sugars and sweets such as regular soft drinks, desserts, candy, jam and honey. The more sugar you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be. Other sweeteners may be helpful if you choose to use them.
6. Eat regularly
Try to eat three meals a day at regular times and do not space your meals for more than six hours. Eating at regular times helps your body control blood sugar. It is also helpful to try to eat about the same amount of food with each meal, especially carbohydrates. Consider carbohydrate counting, as the amount of carbohydrates consumed at a time is usually important for managing diabetes. If you eat too many carbohydrates during a meal, your blood sugar level may get too high. If you don't take enough carbohydrates, your blood sugar level may be too low, depending on the type of medication you are taking for diabetes.
The amount of food you eat is important for managing diabetes
7. Choose the "Good" fat
Some fats are good for us. Good fats are found in foods such as olive oil, canola oil, other vegetable oils, avocado, soft margarine, nuts, seeds, and oily fish like trout and salmon. These are unsaturated fats. On the other hand, saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. Choose foods with little saturated fat - butter, red meat, cakes, pastries, fried foods, high-fat dairy products. Choose healthy proteins more often, including vegetable proteins and less fatty dairy products.
8. Make water your favorite drink
Water is a sugar-free, calorie-free way to quench your thirst and stay hydrated. Regular consumption of soft drinks and fruit juices will increase your blood sugar. Alcohol can affect blood sugar and can lead to weight gain. It is best to consume alcohol in moderation.
9. Plan meals ahead
Planning healthier meals and snacks can go a long way toward achieving your goals. A weekly meal plan will help you buy the right foods and encourage more cooking at home.
Talk to your nutritionist or healthcare team about the right amount of carbohydrates for you and to plan your meals better.