It’s one thing to aim for consistently healthy eating.
Putting it into practice takes more than just discipline – it takes clever thinking and specific actions.
With that in mind, here is a collection of hints and tips to help you on your road to eating well with diabetes.
- Have regular meals, preferably of a similar size each day.
- Keep to the amounts as recommended by your dietitian or diabetes health-care professionals.
- Missing meals will affect your blood glucose and undereating can make you suddenly feel hungry and reach for a snack of less healthy foods.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables each day. The health benefits are important, and if you are watching your weight these foods can help to fill you up at a low-joule cost.
- Include carbohydrate-containing foods in each meal.
- Make sure the portion size of these meals is not too large and does not vary too much throughout the day.
- Plan meals ahead when possible, have healthy foods to hand, and less healthy foods out of sight.
- Limit the fat you eat, particularly saturated (animal) fats, as this type of fat is linked to heart disease.
- Choose mono-unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and canola oil.
- Eating less fat and fatty foods will also help you to lose weight.
- Use less butter, margarine, cheese and fatty meats.
- Choose low-fat dairy foods, such as low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt.
- Use low-fat cooking methods: bake, grill, roast without fat, microwave, steam, poach, chargrill, stir-fry and grill.
- Limit sugar and sugary foods. This does not mean that your diet has to be sugar-free. Sugar can be used as an ingredient in foods and in baking as part of a healthy diet. But keep to sugar-free or diet drinks.
- Eat more fish, and try to choose oily fish (such as herring, salmon and mackerel) twice a week.
- Opt for foods high in fibre. For bulk and fibre, choose starchy foods such as potatoes in their skins, pasta and basmati rice, and wholegrain bread and cereals.
- Try to get to a healthy weight and stay there.
- If you have a food craving, it can help to know that it will pass. The longer you can resist the craving, the weaker it will become. Think how you might deal with a similar situation differently next time. For instance, have at hand some healthy nibbles such as carrots, melon and strawberries. Sugar-free jelly, a glass of tomato juice, a chilled sugar-free drink or a mug of low-kilojoule soup can also be helpful.
- Enhance the natural flavours in your cooking with herbs, spices, garlic, chilli, lemon or lime juice, flavoured vinegars, tomato purée (passata), a splash of wine, Tabasco, capers, a few olives or mustard. These will add flavour so you can reduce the need for added salt.
- Drink alcohol in moderation only – the guidelines are four or fewer standard units of alcohol a day for men and two or fewer standard drinks a day for women. For example, a 100 ml glass of wine or a 300 ml glass of normal-strength beer is one standard drink.
- Never drink on an empty stomach, as alcohol can make hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) more likely to occur.