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Managing Type 2 Diabetes through Diet - Some Helpful Tips

Type 2 Diabetes and body weight are strongly linked, with over 80% of people with the condition classed as overweight at the time of diagnosis.

Having excess body fat can challenge the way that sugar is used by the body, influencing blood sugar levels. Losing between 5-10% of your body weight has health benefits such as lowering blood fats, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Choosing a calorie-controlled, healthy eating diet that helps to manage your diabetes, but also starts to support weight loss is a great step in the right direction.

It's worth saying that all the advice given here is to help support you if you are a type 2 diabetic - it shouldn't replace any advice you've been given by a healthcare professional, and is not intended for individuals who have type 1 diabetes, are on medication or who are prescribed insulin.

What should and shouldn't I be eating and drinking?

Being Diabetic used to mean cutting all sugar out of the diet. Things have moved on quite a bit and now people with Type 2 Diabetes are told to follow a 'normal' healthy eating diet - similar to that which the whole of the population should be eating. Special diabetic foods are not recommended.

Following a healthy balanced diet, having regular mealtimes and being as active as possible are all key to help control your appetite and to keep your blood sugar levels at a more constant level. As you start to lose weight, you may find that your diabetes becomes easier to control .Stick to these simple tips to help manage your diabetes, and to lead a healthier lifestyle:-

  1. Choose starchy carbohydrates - these take longer to be digested, and give a more stable blood sugar level compared to sugary foods. Choose wholegrain pasta, brown or wholemeal bread, rice cakes or potatoes for a longer lasting energy level.
  2. Reduce your fat intake, particularly saturated fat - this will help to reduce calories (and promote weight loss) and is also better for your heart health too.
  3. Aim for at least 5 portions of fruit and veg everyday - to help you get your daily quota of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
  4. Include at least 2 portions of oily fish per week - rich in omega 3 fats thought to be protective against heart disease.

Try and cut down on:-

  1. Sugar and sugary foods - you don't need to cut these out completely, but reducing the total amount you have in your diet is sensible.
  2. Salt - as with the general population you should try and have 6g or less of salt per day - this can help to reduce blood pressure levels.
  3. Alcohol - stick to within the recommended units of alcohol (2-3 per day for women, 3-4 per day for men) and remember that alcohol often contains sugar. Go for spirits with slim line mixers if you want to cut back on your sugar intake (and calories!).

Have a look at your diet, and try and find ways to integrate healthier eating into everything you eat and drink, without compromising on taste! Why not try some of these healthy food swaps to help you on your way...

Swap this... ...for this... Benefit?
Fish and Chips (from the chip shop) Grilled salmon with new potatoes and fresh veg Reduced fat, increased fibre, increased omega 3 fats
White toast with butter and jam Wholemeal toast with low fat spread, and marmite Reduced sugar, increased fibre
Rice based breakfast cereal Wholegrain breakfast cereal with skimmed milk, and a sprinkling of fresh fruit Increased fibre, extra vitamins and minerals
Can of fizzy cola Glass of fresh fruit smoothie (or water!) Less sugar, more fibre, more vitamins and minerals
Packet of salt and vinegar crisps Packet of wholegrain snacks e.g. Walkers Sunbites Lower saturated fat
Cup of tea and 2 chocolate digestives Cup of tea with oatcakes Lower saturated fat
Mashed potato Jacket Potato Increased fibre (in skin)
Chocolate bar Portion controlled chocolate bar (e.g. 2 finger KitKat, 99 calorie choc bar) Lower calories, lower fat
Full English Breakfast Grilled bacon rasher, poached egg, grilled tomato, toast with low fat spread Lower saturated fat, lower calories
Indian takeaway Home cooked curry made with lean meat, reduced fat sauce, bulk out with veg Lower saturated fat, lower calories, increased fibre

Good luck with managing your condition, and losing weight. Don't forget we're here to support you so get in touch if you have any questions we can help with. For further information on managing Type 2 Diabetes through diet have a look at the Diabetes UK website (www.diabetes.org.uk)

Always contact your GP or Diabetes Care Nurse if you have any concerns.

You are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle with an aim of weight loss. This website and the content provided should not be used by persons under 18, by pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with any type of health condition, except under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The information contained in these articles, and elsewhere on this website, is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to replace, and does not constitute legal, professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis and may not be used for such purposes. Continue...

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