I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, what should I eat? It’s a common question so we’ve compiled healthy eating food tips to help you towards a healthy diet.

Bear in mind that an appropriate diet for someone with diabetes depends entirely on the individual.

To get an insight into the food and diets that others with diabetes are eating, see the Diabetes Food Forum

1. Eat at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruit a day

The NHS advises that we eat at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruit a day, amounting to 400g.

Ensuring we eat at least 5 a day, each day has been shown to reduce risks of a range of common health problems including heart disease and cancer.

Examples of single portions of vegetables and fruit include: [26]

  • 2 good sized florets of broccoli
  • 8 Brussels sprouts
  • 2 inch piece of cucumber
  • Half an avocado
  • 1 medium sized apple

2. Eat less sugar

It’s an obvious one for people with diabetes and it also applies to people without diabetes. Eating less sugar helps to reduce calorie intakes and helps to lower blood sugar levels.

It’s worth bearing in mind that whilst reducing sugar intake is generally a good idea, people who are suffering hypoglycemia should take sugar to bring their blood glucose up.

3. Eat red meat less than once day

A large scale, long term study (of 120,00 people over a period of over 20 years) by Harvard University found that eating red meat each day was statistically linked with higher incidences of cancer and heart disease.

Eating processed meats was found to have even higher incidences. [27]

4. Include fish and lean meats

In the study mentioned above, consumption of fish and lean meats instead of red meat was shown to help lower the statistical chance of developing cancer or heart disease.

5. Type 1 diabetes, count carbohydrates

For people with type 1 diabetes, counting carbohydrates is a key part of managing the condition. Because people with type 1 diabetes take insulin, it’s essential that the right balance of insulin and carbohydrate is achieved.

6. Type 2 diabetes, watch carbohydrates

Whilst there is less need for people with type 2 diabetes to actively count the carbohydrates being eaten, it is a good idea to be aware of the carbohydrates you’re eating as carbohydrate has a direct effect on blood sugar levels

7. Eat according to your blood glucose results

Charity Diabetes UK points out that it is important for blood sugar levels to be as near to normal as possible. The food we eat can make a significant difference to blood glucose levels of people with diabetes.

Home blood glucose testing helps us to monitor how our blood glucose levels respond to what we eat.

As diet has a significant effect on blood sugar levels, it therefore makes sense to eat foods that will not adversely affect your blood glucose.

Testing your blood sugar before a meal and 2 hours after will often provide an indication of how a meal has affected your blood glucose levels.

8. Limit salt intake to 6g per day

Government recommendations are to consume no more than 6g of salt each day. Salt is often present in pre-packaged foods such as a number of breakfast cereals, tinned soup, breads, sauces and ready meals.

9. Think about portion sizes

If you are overweight, reducing portion sizes can help to reduce the calories you eat and therefore help with weight management.

The UK government’s Change4Life campaign advises choosing a smaller sized plate to eat meals from.

10. Reduce alcohol intake

Alcohol affects people with diabetes in a number of ways.

Alcohol inhibits the liver which can lead to hypoglycemia in people on certain diabetes medication. Alcohol is a source of calories and therefore can make weight management more difficult.

Over consumption of alcohol is also associated with a number of health complications such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Liver damage

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