Tips for life with diabetes
Whether one lives with diabetes or not, the ‘healthy diet’ notion remains valid for all of us. This includes choosing nutritious foods such as:
- fruit and veg
- nuts, seeds, olives and avocado (rich in unsaturated fats)
- fish, especially the oily type
- little red meat
- little processed foods
- little sugary foods
- water (other drinks such as tea, coffee and soda can be enjoyed in moderation too)
Here is a general guide to help you achieve better glucose results and higher energy levels:
- Include carbohydrates (in moderation) with your meals and prefer the complex type (wholegrains, pulses, seeds, etc). In a recent meta-analysis, wholegrains were shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also tend to reduce the Total Cholesterol: LDL Cholesterol ratio, blood pressure and risk of diabetes/obesity. On top of this, they are beneficial to gut bacteria (you may have heard about the gut-brain axis).
- Keep to regular meal times in accordance with your insulin and/or tablet regime and be aware of your carbohydrate intake.
- Ensure your meals have plenty of fresh produce in them- especially raw or lightly cooked vegetables (eat a rainbow of colours as much as possible to get maximum nutrients).
4. Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly. NICE recommends 150 minutes of (brisk) exercise per week in divided sessions.
5. Avoid fruit juice and sugary drinks as a thirst quencher, as they are very high in sugar (albeit natural or artificial- it still has the same effect on blood glucose levels).
6. Stay away from foods marketed as ‘diabetic’ or ‘suitable for diabetics’. They are not dissimilar from the normal products when it comes to saturated fat, calories and sugar, and are more expensive. Some of them may also have laxative effects, so go for your usual foods and just watch the portion size (eating slowly and mindfully will help you crave less of it).
7.Try to avoid eating when stressed (comfort eating). Pause for a while, go for a 10-minute walk outside, or do a few exercises, or some mindfulness instead. Take time out of your day to enjoy meals slowly and really be present, as this will help you reach satiety more easily and feel more satisfied in the end. ‘Step into the present’.
8. Snack on nutrient-dense foods such as fruit, seeds, crudites and dried fruit (being mindful of the natural sugar). A handful of nuts (15-20 grams a day) have cardioprotective and anti-cancer properties. Include a little carbohydrate with the snacks as well and try to go for the wholegrain option (rye crackers, rice cakes, wholemeal breadsticks).
9. Whatever foods one chooses, three factors should come into mind: to control blood sugar and blood fats (so opt for the unsaturated fats, which have beneficial effects on heart health) and to maintain a healthy weight (total calorie intake per day). If these factors are considered one is unlikely to go wrong.
- Enjoy what you do without feeling guilty for the occasional treat or ‘relapse’. Just pick yourself up soon after and remember that your mind is stronger than your body.