There are two types of diabetes: type 1 which usually occurs early in life and type 2, which often begins as an adult and can be the result of poor diet and lifestyle. What some people may not know is that diabetes can actually be controlled, and symptoms lessened, by following a healthy lifestyle – this can work for type 2 diabetes in particular.
Diabetes is on the rise in recent years, but can be prevented and sometimes reversed. If you have eaten foods that are high in sugar, fried foods or refined starches changing your eating habits could seem an impossible or unpleasant task. But with a little imagination there are still many tasty dishes you can enjoy, and nothing is more important than being able to live life to the full with your improved health.
Main foods to avoid:
If you have type 2 diabetes it is important to avoid foods that are likely to spike your blood levels or increase risks of complications in your illness. Some of these are obvious and some less so:
• Sugar – it may seem obvious to avoid cakes and sweets, but high-sugar food you may not realise are bad for you also include fruit juices and dried fruit.
• Fried foods – greasy and fried foods cause you to gain weight and effect your blood sugar levels. Fried chicken, French fries and doughnuts are all terrible choices for diabetes sufferers.
• Refined starches – these interfere with glucose levels just like sugar when the body starts to digest them, so they are a terrible choice for diabetes sufferers. Avoid white bread, white rice, pasta and anything made with white flour.
• Whole Dairy products – we might have been told that milk is good for us, but the saturated fat in whole milk worsens insulin resistance in diabetes sufferers. Avoid full-fat cheese, cream and yoghurt whenever possible.
• Fatty meat – high fat meat products carry a large amount of saturated fat, raising cholesterol levels and putting a diabetes sufferer at increased risk of heart disease. Hamburgers, bacon and hot dogs are all to be avoided.
Positive choices for diabetes sufferers:
Realising that you can’t eat bacon, full fat cheese, greasy chips and cake might be upsetting at first, but this certainly needn’t mean that you diet will be boring. You can still enjoy a very varied and tasty diet when you know how.
It is important that you space meals evenly throughout the day to prevent your glucose levels dropping. White flour is detrimental for diabetes sufferers, so why not try whole grains for breakfast. A whole grain muffin with scrambled egg is a tasty alternative to white toast or bagels, or you could have some tasty and filling porridge.
A good alternative to fatty meat is fish or chicken. There are plenty of delicious meal choices still available to you though – how about creating an alternative to fried fish and chips by baking a piece of cod in pesto with cherry tomatoes wrapped in foil, and baked homemade fries. This will be quick to make, as well as safe for a diabetes sufferer.
Some other tasty recipes choices could be a chicken salad or Mexican bean salad – both of these are good choices for diabetics, and beans especially will be good for your health. A stir fry with whole-wheat noodles could also be a quick dinner alternative.
Although high-sugar treats are bad for diabetes sufferers you can still enjoy certain puddings. Check the BBC Good Food website for suitable choices, including sticky cinnamon figs and double chocolate cardamom pots. Diabetes needn’t hold back your enjoyment of food!
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Solihull Care, the ideal choice for respite care, domiciliary care and care homes in Birmingham.