People with diabetes should follow normal nutritional guidelines for the general population, and can eat the same
foods as the whole family since everyone benefits from healthy eating.
Healthy eating and exercise in diabetics help to:
- Maintain the blood glucose close to normal to prevent complications
- Control cholesterol levels
- Control blood pressure, and reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease and stroke
In addition, diabetics have to take care to balance their food with insulin and oral antidiabetic medications to help
manage their blood glucose levels.
Healthy diet involves eating a variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products,
beans, lean meat, poultry, and fish. These are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Avoid processed foods.
- Eat three meals a day. Avoid skipping meals, and space out breakfast, lunch, and evening meal over the day
- At each meal, include moderate amount (around 1/3 of the plate) of starchy carbohydrate foods, e.g., bread, pasta, chapatis, potatoes, yams, noodles, rice, and cereals. Eat more slowly absorbed (low glycaemic index) foods, e.g., pasta, rice, sweet potato and yam, porridge oats, bran, and natural muesli
- Reduce fat in the diet, especially saturated fats. Use unsaturated fats or oils e.g. olive oil, sunflower oil
- Eat more fruit and vegetables. Aim for at least five portions a day. Eat more beans and lentils.
- Limit sugar and sugary foods
- Reduce salt in the diet to 6 g or less per day
- Drink alcohol only in moderation: 1 drink (one beer or one small glass of wine or one shot of spirit) for women and 2 for men as a maximum amount daily. Alcohol has some cardioprotective effect. It should be consumed with food to
- Don’t use products marketed as ”diabetic foods, drinks or herbs” (they are expensive and of no benefit)
- Routine supplementation with vitamins and minerals without underlying actual deficiency is not beneficial,
patients should eat lots of fruits and vegetables
- Obese and overweight patients need to be encouraged to reduce weight using exercise and diet modifications