Like everyone else, people with type 2 diabetes feel their best when they consistently eat healthy, nutritious meals. For those with type 2 diabetes, nutrition, diet, and exercise are three of the most important ways you can control your blood glucose and help prevent the development of serious complications in the long term. People with pre-diabetes can avoid developing diabetes by changing what they eat and making other lifestyle changes. There is no one diet for type 2 diabetes, but by following certain guidelines, you can ensure that you will stay your healthiest, minimize the amount of insulin and other medications you have to take, and lower your risk for heart disease and other problems.
Some popular diets may contain toxic levels of some nutrients or dangerously low levels of others. Always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.
What does it involve?
A nutritious diet for someone with type 2 diabetes is not very different from a healthy diet for other people. In general, focus your diet on fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy products, and sources of healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Antioxidants are nutrients that may help reduce inflammation. Foods such as cantaloupe, citrus, tomatoes, broccoli, mango, pineapple and berries are especially rich in Vitamin C. Fresh produce is also often high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Eat as many vegetables as possible, and eat fruit in balance with other carbohydrates. If you can, forgo dip or dressing in order to cut calories and reduce your caloric intake.
Some types of fat raise cholesterol and may contribute to inflammation, while other types may help reduce inflammation. Researchers have tied saturated fats to increased inflammation. Saturated fats come from high-fat animal products (including full-fat dairy), fried foods, and baked goods made with tropical oils. Reduce your saturated fat intake by limiting your consumption of foods such as fatty beef, pork, chicken with skin, lard, cream, butter, cheese, full-fat or 2 percent milk or yogurt. Instead, choose skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and skin-free chicken or fish.
Conversely, the type of fat found in walnuts, pecans, flaxseed, canola and olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, lake trout and sardines may help fight inflammation as well as heart disease. These foods are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Dietary fiber keeps your heart healthy and your bowels working properly. You can eat more high-fiber foods including vegetables, dried or fresh fruits, legumes such as peas or beans, some nuts including almonds and pistachios, and whole-grain products. Making the switch from white bread to whole-grain, from white rice to brown rice, or from regular pasta to whole-grain pasta will also add fiber to your diet. Always check labels to make sure products are whole-grain.
High blood pressure is a concern for many with type 2 diabetes. A high-sodium diet can raise your blood pressure, increasing your risk for heart disease. Instead of relying on salt, experiment with using lemon juice or different spices such as pepper or curry powder as a way of enhancing the taste of food.
Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol – one drink per day for women, and two drinks for men – is safe for most diabetics. Use caution if you drink when your blood glucose is low, your stomach is empty, or if you are taking certain diabetes drugs such as Prandin, Diabinese, or Amaryl. Since alcohol can contribute to hypoglycemia up to 24 hours after drinking, be sure to check your blood glucose level and eat a snack to raise it if necessary.
Good nutrition is a one of the most powerful ways you can control your blood glucose, achieve or maintain a healthy weight, and avoid developing serious diabetes complications.
Doctors and researchers agree that eating nutritious food in a healthy pattern can help those with type 2 diabetes reach their goals related to blood glucose, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol and delay or prevent complications.
Side effects of some diabetes medications, which can include upset stomach, fatigue, and dizziness, may make it difficult to eat regular meals or focus on a healthy diet.
Fatigue or physical disabilities may make it more difficult to find the energy to prepare fresh, healthy meals. Making large batches of food in advance and freezing several portions for the future can help conserve energy.
You may feel disappointed to give up favorite high-sugar or full-fat foods. However, think of diet changes as a chance to explore unfamiliar foods and find new favorites. Many recipe books focus on low-glycemic cooking and provide a wealth of exciting ideas.
Depending on where you live, it may be harder to get to a grocery store with a good selection of produce and other healthy foods.
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