This posts radical argument – there is no such thing as a diabetes diet. Read my reasoning and tips for how you should eat when you have diabetes.
By diabetes coach Hildegunn Fossheim
Let’s get straight to the point – there is no such thing as a diabetes diet.
Media loves to tell us a different story though. Every week there is seemingly life-changing news telling us what ”diabetics” absolutely can’t and must eat – the newest always contradicting the previous, and nuances is none existent – there is only either or when it comes to diet, no middle road to be taken. Either you only eat carbohydrates or you only eat fat. Or even better, you stay away from both evils and vegetables become the only food group on the menu.
Moreover, media rarely seem to take into consideration that there are two type of diabetes, which requires different treatment. The lack of distinction between diabetes type 2 and diabetes type 1 leads to even greater ignorance among the public about diabetes. Must of you are probably no strangers to statements like“Elizabeth and Adams girl have got diabetes. It’s probably because they let her eat Nutella for breakfast every Saturday”. I could have written a doctoral thesis on diabetes, prejudices and misconceptions, but let’s get back to the matter of hand: Which diet advice should you with diabetes take to heart?
There is no such thing a diabetes diet. Today the term is simply out-dated; it has become a news and sales gimmick more than anything. Before the advancement in diabetes treatment and medicine a super strict diet was the only way to try to survive as long as you possible could with this disease, and one regulated the food according the insulin-dose one were setting. But today you have a bigger freedom to rather adjust the insulin according to what you want to eat. This doesn’t mean that people with diabetes should swim in high trans-fat burgers, pizza and sugary foods – but no human should. A healthy and balanced diet with high fiber content promotes good health for everyone, not just good diabetes health. Everyone benefits from living a healthy and active lifestyle. It’s all about quantity. Everything in moderation.
Yes, there are crucial differences between type 1 and type 2 which results in need of different treatments. Diabetes type 1 needs insulin to survive. While for type 2’s changing eating habits is a central part of the treatment, as the diagnosis is assumed to be triggered by an unhealthy lifestyle. At the same time, many people with type 2 are also insulin dependent. However,
keeping a stable blood glucose level is the alpha and omega of any type of diabetes, and what you eat is the key to a better blood glucose control. So whether the end goal is to lose weight or to more easily regulate your insulin needs, the road there consists of the same food – centred on a healthy fiber rich diet. Therefore, it’s important for everyone with diabetes to be aware of what kind of food makes your blood sugar rise and which ones doesn’t. It just happens to be that the food that gives low glucose spikes happens be of the healthy variety.
SO HOW SHOULD A NORMAL EVERYDAY DIET LOOK FOR YOU WITH DIABETES?
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
It’s normal to avoid juice and other sugary drinks when you have diabetes. This is because fruits contain fructose that gets your blood sugar levels to rise, and factory produced juice also contains refined sugar and other artificial additives. For the same reason, you main intake of fruits and vegetables should consist of vegetables. Vegetables are slow carbohydrates that help keeps the blood sugar level stable longer. Furthermore vegetables contain large amounts of nutrients and antioxidants that the body needs to stay healthy and fight off diseases. And the best part – you can eat as much of vegetables as your heart desire!
There is no secret that many struggle to eat enough greens. Therefore, we at SmartCare have been curious about how juicing might help to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables for people with diabetes. The concept of juicing has become hugely popular in recent years, and when we are talking about juice in this context we mean fresh made juice without any added sugar or other additives. I addition, the main focus of juicing is to use vegetables rather than fruit – which is great to help keep a stable glucose level. Juicing can be a good supplement to individual meals, and it’s a tasty, easy and fun way to add fruits and vegetables to your diet that you otherwise wouldn’t eat.
BREAKFAST – FOR A SOLID START.
The necessity of eating breakfast is controversial. However, there are several studies that suggest skipping breakfast can affect weight, concentration, mood, learning ability and blood sugar levels. This is not the case for everyone, but for most. By skipping a meal you refuse the body regular supply of energy that you need to keep both your performance and spirits up. When you don’t eat breakfast you’re more likely to overeat on unhealthy food later in the day. Studies shows that a large proportion of those who are overweight skip breakfast.
A regular supply of energy is also important to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Research indicates that breakfast is actually the most important preventive measure you can take to achieve a stable glucose level. It’s seems like breakfast helps improve insulin sensitivity throughout the day.
It’s not just eating breakfast, but what you eat for breakfast that’s important. Studies show that if you eat a fiber rich brekfast, your blood sugar will remain more evenly throughout the day than if you don’t. It’s neither “dangerous” or “unhealthy” eating bread and cereals, but it’s about choosing the right type. Choose whole grain products that contain slow carbohydrates.
Breakfast that will keep you glucose level stable longer:
- Oatmeal (with berrys)
- 1-2 slices of whole-wheat bread or crisp bread with lean meats. Garnish with fresh vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes or cucumber.
- A cereal high in fiber and low in sugar, with yogurt /milk and berries.
- Drink a glass of milk, it is one of the main sources of calcium we have. Calcium is the backbone of a strong skeleton, and must be supplied daily for the skeleton to be as strong as possible. Because of the high content of saturated fat, we recommend low fat milk.
- Fresh juice with vegetables and fruit.
If you have a small appetite or/and poor time in the morning making a home made fresh juice can be a very good option, as you will get the nutrients you need to meet the day.
LUNCH – SUSTAINING FUEL
It’s 3-4 hours since breakfast and it’s time to give your body some fuel. Regular meals are alpha omega to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. There are countless good, light and healthy lunch options. Here are a few options:
- Salad with ham, egg or chicken. Top with beans, or have a thin slice of whole-wheat bread on the side to really fill your stomach.
- Omelette with 1-2 eggs and packed with vegetables.
- A few pieces of whole-wheat bread or crisp bread with lean meats, lean cheese, eggs, mackerel in tomato or other protein-rich topping.
- Remember to drink water!
SNACK – AVOID THE WORST HUNGER
If there are too many hours between breakfast and lunch, you may want to add a little snack in between to avoid the worst hunger. The same goes for the afternoon. It’s not uncommon to be starving at the way home from work/school, and the thought of making a proper dinner for the whole family on an empty stomach often leads to a quick and unhealthy solution. There is no rule that dictates that dinner must be eaten at the moment you get home, but we feel it’s often the case. A solution for many might be to eat a small snack right before you leave work or right after you come home, and than wait a couple hours with dinner? A tip is to make fresh juice, which is easy and quick to make, and will fuel the worst hunger for the whole family until everything has settled down and you have the energy and calm to make a healthy and balanced dinner.
Suggestions for snacks
- Fresh juice mainly consisting of vegetables
- Yogurt with low fat and calorie content.
- Crisp bread with lean protein-rich topping.
- Fruits, but not too many grapes or too much banana as this gives greater blood sugar spikes.
- A handful of unsalted nuts.
DINNER – GET ALL THE IMPORTANT NUTRITION
Dinner is the golden opportunity to spend some quality time with the whole family. There are endless healthy and tasty suggestions for dinners. The best advice is that no dinner meal is complete without all the basic buildings blocks of nutrition the body needs. The plate model ensures that we do don’t miss any important nutrients. What you may not know is that there are two different versions of it? One that shows how people with a high BMI should eat, and another that shows how people with normal BMI should eat.
This model shows how a person with normal BMI should eat.
SUPPER – BE CAREFUL WITH THE PORTIONS
This meal should not be to heavy, usually half of a breakfast or lunch. A heavy meal right before bedtime may interfere with your beauty sleep. Some people may need a little more, but if you have eaten regular through the day your more likely to be less hungry in the evening. The exception is for people with insulin dependent diabetes that may need to eat a proper supper. See suggestions for snacks above.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day as this is the best thirst quencher there is. Do you think water is boring? A tip is to add a slice of lemon, cucumber or other flavor you love.