Diabetes Approach to Healthy Eating
Diabetes affects the way the body uses sugars found in food. Insulin is the hormone responsible for using sugar as an energy source in the body. People who have diabetes either can't produce enough insulin or they can't use it properly (insulin resistance). As a result, sugar accumulates in the blood. A few simple measures can help control blood sugar levels.
- Get into a routine and eat your meals and snacks at about the same time each day
Eat three meals a day, at about the same time every day (not more than six hours apart), and eat balanced snacks throughout the day to help your body stabilize blood sugar.
- Be active!
Being physically active will help you achieve a healthy weight, stabilize blood sugar and prevent cardiovascular diseases - all of which are complications commonly linked to diabetes.
- Reduce your sugar intake
Your blood sugar level is directly connected to the amount of sugar in your diet. It is therefore important to reduce your sugar intake. Sweeteners (sugar substitutes) can help you reach this goal as they do not have any effect on blood sugar.
- Watch your weight
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can help you better control your diabetes as well as reduce your need for medication and insulin.
- A balanced approach to eating
Do not hesitate to see a nutritionist. In addition to assessing your eating habits, a nutritionist will tailor your diet based on your medication and the seriousness of your illness.
Soluble fibre slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, reducing blood sugar levels in the process and contributing to lowering blood cholesterol. Oat, porridge, buckwheat, barley, legumes, flax seed, apples and pears are but a few examples of foods that are rich in soluble fibre.
Healthy fats and unhealthy fats
If you are diabetic, your physician may recommend that you reduce your fat intake. Trans fats and saturated fats should ideally be eliminated from one's diet, leaving only healthy fats. Clearly, avoiding these unhealthy fats is not an easy feat as they are found in most foods. Here are a few examples of foods that contain healthy and unhealthy fats:
|Healthy fats||Unhealthy fats|
Sugars and Sweeteners
Sugar alternatives have been gaining in popularity for many years. Aspartame was the first sweetener to become a household name. It was quickly followed by several others, all of which had one common goal: provide sweetness without the calories. Today, they are widely used throughout the food industry to make low sugar or diet products. These products are definitely worth considering if you are diabetic since sweeteners do not increase blood glucose levels.
Some people have claimed that sweeteners may be carcinogenic. The Canadian Cancer Society states that there is no evidence to support this claim and that consuming a reasonable amount of sweetener is safe. The only contraindication concerns aspartame. Aspartame contains phenylalanine which is harmful to those who suffer from phenylketonuria, a rare genetic disease.
|Sweeteners||Commercial names||Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI)*|
* TDA stands for Tolerable Daily Intake, meaning the amount of sweetener that can be consumed daily, based on a person's weight.
It is important to note that one should not abuse sweeteners - not because of any associated health risk, but rather because they increase one's craving for sugar. Furthermore, foods or beverages that claim to be "diet" often have very little or no nutritional value. It is therefore recommended that you eat healthy foods that contribute to your daily nutritional intake.
Eat smart and eat healthy. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself!
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.