Each day 280 Australians develop diabetes!
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia and type 2 diabetes represents about 90% of all diabetes. But a diabetes diagnosis does not mean that the scary complications often associated with the disease, such as kidney disease, blindness and foot ulcers are inevitable. You CAN significantly reduce your risk of complications by managing your blood glucose levels through diet, physical activity and medication.
With planning and help from your Dietitian, eating to keep your diabetes in check can be easy. So, what is a good diet for type 2 diabetes? These are our Dietitians top 5 tips to get you started.
1. Spread your carbohydrate across the day.
The first step with this tip is to make sure you are not skipping meals. Eat regularly and include a little carbohydrate at each meal, avoiding too much at any one meal.
2. Choose high fibre and low GI carbs.
These foods tend to need less insulin and won’t produce big ups and downs in your blood glucose levels. They also keep you fuller for longer – good for combating overeating and maintaining your concentration and energy levels throughout the day.
3. If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce the risk of complications.
Your dietitian can help you with an individualised plan to help you lose weight. If you are taking insulin, weight loss can be hard, but it is not impossible. Losing weight while on insulin injections often requires specialised advice to ensure your diet is both effective and safe. If you are taking insulin and struggling to lose weight, chat to your GP and make an appointment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian for advice and support.
4. Variety. Have lean protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.
Foods containing protein and healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. Include a protein source such as lean meat, lean skinless chicken, fish, eggs or dairy at all of your meals. Don’t forget your 5 serves of vegetables a day either! Veggies are great for your bowel and heart health. A good intake can help ward off diabetes complications.
5. Beware alternative sweeteners.
Alternative intense sweeteners (both artificial and those marketed as “natural”) are often used in place of sugar. But foods and drinks that have been sweetened with alternative sweeteners, such as diet soft drinks and cordials and jelly tend to have little nutritional benefit and may often take the place of more nutritious foods and drinks. They may also maintain your desire to have sweet foods and drinks rather than learning to enjoy the other tastes in foods.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body has difficulty maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. This is a result of the body becoming resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually losing the capacity to produce enough insulin. High blood glucose levels can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Excessive thirst
- Passing more urine
- Always feeling hungry
- Blurred vision
- Cuts and grazes heal slower
- Leg cramps
If you are concerned about symptoms visit your GP to discuss your symptoms.
When do you need to see a Dietitian?
An Accredited Practising Dietitian can help you with diabetes control plan, which may include a weight loss plan and/ or a carbohydrate distribution plan.
It is a great idea to see a dietitian if:
- you are a newly diagnosed diabetic.
- you are struggling to lose weight.
- you have just started on insulin.
- you have big fluctuations in your blood glucose levels.
- you regularly have blood glucose levels above 10mmol/L.
- your HbA1c is above 8%.
Written by our Eat Smart Dietitian Amelia Webster, Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), Accredited Sports Dietitian