When you are diagnosed with diabetes, it's natural to have questions about what food to eat. Each person with diabetes is different and there is no single diet that suits everyone. Only you and your medical team can figure out what’s right for you.
But here are some tips that you can use to help you make healthier food choices.
Healthy eating can:
- Help manage your blood glucose (sugar)
- Work to manage your weight
- Help regulate your blood pressure level
- Focus on healthy cholesterol levels
- Hep reduce the risk of diabetes complications like stroke or heart attack
As food is key to managing diabetes and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other complications, choose 1 or 2 things below that you can do today. Once you feel comfortable with the new changes, choose another healthy eating tip to work on.
Portion sizes are important to think about whether you have type 1 or type 2. It makes calculating nutritional facts when you’re carb counting or managing your weight a lot easier. Remember, portion sizes are different for everyone, so what’s right for someone else might not be right for you. Canada’s Food Guide suggests you fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. People with diabetes should choose more vegetables than fruit because most vegetables have less sugar. Divide the other half of your plate between protein food and whole grain foods.
Eat healthy carbohydrates
It's true that all carbohydrates (carbs) affect your blood sugar, but it is a myth that people with diabetes are not “allowed” to eat any carbohydrate foods. The type and amount of carbohydrate you eat is what matters.
Here are some healthy sources of carbohydrates:
- Whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat, and whole oats
- Pulses such as chickpeas, beans, and lentils
- Dairy like unsweetened yogurt and milk
It’s also important to cut down on foods low in fibre such as white bread, white rice, and highly processed cereals. Check food labels when you’re looking for foods high in fibre if you’re unsure.
Eat less red and processed meat
If you’re cutting down on carbs, you might start to have bigger portions of meat to fill you up. But it’s not a good idea to do this with red and processed meat, like ham, bacon, sausages, beef, and lamb. These all have links with heart problems and cancers.
Try swapping red and processed meat for these:
- Pulses such as beans and lentils
- Poultry like chicken and turkey
- Unsalted nuts
Limit sugars and sweets
Limit sugars and sweets such as regular pop, desserts, candies, jam, and honey. The more sugar you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be.
Plan for healthy meals
Planning healthier meals and snacks can go a long way to helping you reach your goals. Talk to your registered dietitian or health-care team about the amount of carbohydrates that are right for you and for help with meal planning.
Make water your beverage of choice. Water is a sugar-free and calorie-free way to quench your thirst and stay hydrated. Drinking regular pop and fruit juice will raise your blood sugar.