People with diabetes have nearly double the risk of heart disease and are at a greater risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression. But most cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable and some can even be reversed. Taking steps to prevent or control diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation; it means eating a tasty, balanced diet that will also boost your energy and improve your mood. You don’t have to give up sweets entirely or resign yourself to a lifetime of bland food. With these tips, you can still take pleasure from your meals without feeling hungry or deprived.
Whether you’re trying to prevent or control diabetes, your nutritional needs are virtually the same as everyone else, so no special foods are necessary. But you do need to pay attention to some of your food choices—most notably the carbohydrates you eat. While following a Mediterranean or other heart-healthy diet can help with this, the most important thing you can do is to lose a little weight.
Losing just 5% to 10% of your total weight can help you lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Losing weight and eating healthier can also have a profound effect on your mood, energy, and sense of wellbeing. Even if you’ve already developed diabetes, it’s not too late to make a positive change. By eating healthier, being more physically active, and losing weight, you can reduce your symptoms or even reverse diabetes. The bottom line is that you have more control over your health than you may think.
Being overweight or obese is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, your risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat surrounds the abdominal organs and liver and is closely linked to insulin resistance. You are at an increased risk of developing diabetes if you are:
• A woman with a waist circumference of 90 cm or more.
• A man with a waist circumference of 100 cm or more.
Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy and granola bars) are more likely to add weight around your abdomen. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.
A diabetic diet doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to give up all your favourite foods. The first step to making smarter choices is to separate the myths from the facts about eating to prevent or control diabetes.
Fact: You can enjoy your favourite treats as long as you plan properly and limit hidden sugars.
Dessert doesn’t have to be off limits, as long as it’s a part of a healthy meal plan.
Fact: The type of carbohydrates you eat as well as serving size is key.
Focus on whole grain carbs instead of starchy carbs since they’re high in fiber and digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even.
Fact: The principles of healthy eating are the same—whether or not you’re diabetic.
Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit.
Fact: Studies have shown that eating too much protein, especially animal protein, may actually cause insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes. A healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Our bodies need all three to function properly. The key is a balanced diet.
As with any healthy eating program, a diabetic diet is more about your overall dietary pattern rather than obsessing over specific foods. Aim to eat more natural, unprocessed food and less packaged and convenience foods.
In two weeks I will carry on reminding you about your health and diet. In the meantime take your first steps to a slimmer future.
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