Diet & Diabetes
Making Positive Changes
Changing what you eat and becoming more active can help you have better control of your diabetes, as well as helping you to lose weight.
The diet recommended for people with diabetes is a healthy balanced diet – the same kind that is recommended for everyone else! So you don’t need to eat any special expensive foods, but you may be able to make some changes to your diet to make it a healthier one. Let’s have a look at some ways in which you can improve your diet.
Change the type of Carbohydrate you eat
What is a carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate is your body’s primary source of energy. Your body breaks carbohydrate down into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is essential for your brain and your nervous system and is the preferred fuel for your working muscles during exercise. 1 gram of carbohydrate produces 4 kcal (calories) of energy.
Not all carbohydrates are the same. Therefore we need to watch the type and quantity we eat. Certain carbohydrates help us to control our blood sugar levels better than others. What determines this is their Glycaemic Index.
What is Glycaemic Index (Gi)?
Gi stands for “Glycaemic Index”. It based on the effect that different carbohydrate foods have on blood sugar levels.
Foods with a “low Gi” take longer to digest, helping you to maintain more even blood sugar levels between meals. Low Gi foods can help you to control your appetite by making you feel fuller for longer so that you resist the urge to overeat . Foods with a “high Gi” are quickly digested, leading to a rapid rise and then fall in blood sugar levels. High Gi foods provide a quick release of energy immediately after eating. This means that a large amount of sugar is released into the body too quickly. When you have Type 2 diabetes your body finds it difficult to cope with this level of sugar.
Choosing low Gi foods will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. We should all try to include plenty of low Gi foods in our meals every day, and cut down on high Gi foods.
The Gi value of a food is determined by many different factors such as:
Why do we need Glucose?
- Essential for proper brain and nervous system function
- Preferred fuel for working muscles/during activity/exercise
- Increases in mood enhancing hormone serotonin
Some sugar is ok
Sugar is found in many foods including sweets, biscuits, cakes and fruit. However, there is a big difference between a piece of fruit and some biscuits that contain the same amount of sugar! So make your snacks count nutritionally and always listen to the advise of your diabetes team.
It’s best to reduce your consumption of table sugar, soft drinks, juices, sweets and stick to foods that contain a little natural sugar, but also other essential nutrients.