Diabetes is sweeping all across Canada. In 2015, 3.4 million Canadians had type 2 diabetes. That number is expected to increase to five million in 2025.
But diabetes is not a fatal disease. People can live full lives with diabetes for decades. One reason for it being the type 2 diabetes diet.
Why is a diabetic meal plan so important? What is the best food for diabetics? What does a sample diet for one day look like? Read on to find out.
Why Is a Type 2 Diabetes Diet Important?
Type 2 diabetes is a disease related to the pancreas. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that controls how sugar moves into cells.
Cells need sugar in order to function. But an overload of sugar in the bloodstream can damage organs and prevent cells from working.
If there is too much sugar in the blood over a long period of time, the pancreas can stop working. Cells can become resistant to any insulin that the pancreas creates. This allows sugar to circulate through the blood without anything stopping it.
Unregulated diabetes will result in major complications. High blood sugar can damage the kidneys, shutting them down. It can also stress the heart and brain, causing a cardiac arrest or stroke.
You can control diabetes through a few basic steps. You can take medication that lowers your blood sugar level. You can inject insulin so the sugar in your blood enters cells.
But you need to follow a diabetic diet that will not put sugar into your blood. The less sugar that is there, the fewer complications you will have. A diabetic meal plan can include variants of your favourite dishes.
What Foods Should Diabetics Eat?
Diabetics should consider all of the major food groups in their diet. Eating only vegetables and fruits will help, but there are other options as well.
Grains and Carbohydrates
Diabetics should not eat processed grains. White bread and pasta bring a lot of sugar into the blood, even in small amounts.
Opt for whole grains whenever you eat bread or pasta. Whole wheat or whole grain bread is a good option.
Multigrain bread is healthier than white, but it may contain a group of processed grains. Read the ingredients label to determine what it contains.
Brown rice is unprocessed rice. It contains essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium that white rice does not have. When you go to Chinese or Thai restaurants, order brown rice instead of white.
Other whole grains you can eat include bulgur, oats, and buckwheat. These are high in dietary fibre, which helps with digestion.
Try to avoid eating potatoes, even baked ones. Choose sweet potatoes or yams instead. Always eat boiled or steamed potatoes instead of fried ones.
You may think that you can eat whatever vegetables you want. It is true that most vegetables are good for you. But some like potatoes have carbohydrates that can spike your blood sugar.
Pick ones that are low in carbohydrates and high in essential nutrients like proteins. Proteins can help you feel full for longer, allowing you to control your portion sizes.
High-protein vegetables include spinach and asparagus. As with potatoes, you want to boil or steam them without using too much fat. If you want to season them, use a little salt with spices like paprika and garlic powder.
Try to vary the colours on your plate. Eat green vegetables alongside orange carrots and purple beets.
Fruits contain high amounts of natural sugars. This leads many people to believe that they cannot eat fruits in their diabetes diet. This isn't the case.
Fruits have a sugar called fructose. Fructose does not affect blood sugar levels as much as processed sugars found in sweets. Though you should not eat excessive amounts of fruits, you can incorporate them into your meals.
You should eat fruits instead of drinking them. The juicing process removes a lot of nutrients while leaving in a lot of sugar. You should only drink it if you believe your blood sugar is dropping too low.
As with vegetables, try to eat a range of fruits. Mangoes, for example, contain enzymes that help with digestion.
Many people assume that they have to go vegetarian after being diagnosed with diabetes. Some sources of protein contain a lot of saturated fat, namely red meat. But protein helps build muscle, including in your heart.
Substitute non-animal sources of protein for animal ones. Nuts and seeds provide high amounts of unsaturated fats that lower cholesterol rates. You can pick peanuts and cashews amongst other nuts.
If you have a nut allergy, you can get protein through vegetables. One cup of asparagus contains three grams of protein.
When you do eat animals, choose seafood and white meat like chicken. Roast or bake your meat without using butter or processed breadcrumbs.
You may need to use fat to cook with. Butter and margarine contain high amounts of saturated fat, so you should avoid eating them entirely.
Cook with olive oil instead. It is ideal for sauteing vegetables, and its flavour can overpower the taste of items like Brussels sprouts.
Olive oil can catch fire if you are cooking for a long period of time. If you're worried about that, you can use peanut oil. It has a powerful nutty taste, but it cooks for long periods and provides healthy fats to your vegetables.
You can also choose coconut oil. Coconut oil is solid, so you can use it to substitute for butter in some recipes.
Dairy products can provide calcium and nutrients like potassium, which regulates blood pressure rates. But they can also have high amounts of saturated fats. Read the nutritional label on any dairy product you buy.
In general, you can eat small amounts during each meal. Greek yogurt is the best choice because it provides probiotics. They improve intestinal health and help preserve insulin levels.
Incorporate single slices of cheese into your sandwiches. You can eat string cheese as a side dish. Avoid fat-free milk since it can spike blood sugar.
What Are Good Drinks for Diabetics?
The best drink for diabetics is water. It hydrates you and helps your body rid itself of excess sugar. You can add slices of lemon or herb sprigs to ice water for flavour.
You can drink tea or coffee. Caffeine has no effect on diabetes, though it can encourage urination. Avoid sweetening your coffee or adding excess amounts of milk or cream.
You should avoid all sweetened beverages, including diet soda. You can drink vegetable juice, but check to see that there are no additives to it. If possible, juice the vegetables yourself.
Sample Diabetic Diet
Before you start eating, form a food plan. Distribute your consumption of carbohydrates throughout the day. Eating all of your grains at once can stress your pancreas out.
Monitor your blood sugar before and after each meal. If it is running too high, remove grains from your next meal.
Each of your meals should be balanced. A bowl of oatmeal provides a lot of whole grains at breakfast. Top it with some berries and walnuts for fibre and protein.
At lunch and dinner, fill half of your plate with vegetables. You can eat a light salad for lunch, then roast some asparagus at dinner. One-fourth of your plate should have protein. Eat some nuts at lunch, then bake some fish for dinner.
The final quarter of your plate should have a grain or starch. Quinoa is great at lunch, while brown rice is more substantial at dinner.
You should eat until you are full. But once you're done with one plate, you shouldn't go up and grab another. Wait a few minutes for your stomach to settle. Drink some water and take a deep breath. It may take some time, but you may notice that you are full after one plate.
If you want dessert, eat some fruit. You can take yogurt and combine it with nuts and fruit to make a parfait.
Enrich Your Nutrition Plan
A type 2 diabetes diet is essential. Excess sugar in the blood will cause complications, including heart attacks and strokes. You should eat from all food groups. Choose whole grains and colourful vegetables and fruits. Incorporate non-animal proteins and healthy fats, including dairy products. Drink water, tea, and coffee.
Eat three balanced meals every day. Vegetables should comprise half of your lunch and dinner. Leave room for healthy proteins and whole grains like brown rice.
You can stay healthy, even with diabetes. Insurdinary can help you get a health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes. Get quotes today.