A healthy diet can help you manage Type-2 Diabetes and even in some cases reverse the condition, but what are the worst offenders? Our experts share what foods you should and shouldn’t be eating to help you eat your way to better health.
“Having a healthy bodyweight makes it easier to manage type 2 diabetes – including controlling blood sugar levels – and reduces risk of complications. What you eat is also really important to help manage symptoms. The focus is to stabilise blood sugar and prevent extreme highs and lows. Focusing on low glycaemic index foods is a good way to do this. These are foods that are low in sugar or carbohydrates (which turn into sugar) or foods that break down and release their carbohydrates or sugars slowly into the blood,” explains nutritionist and fitness trainer Cassandra Barns.
Dark green vegetables
“Dark green veggies, such as spinach, kale, rocket and watercress are super-low in carbohydrates and calories and high in fibre, meaning they have a very low glycaemic index and help to keep blood sugar levels stable. They’re rich in antioxidant nutrients, too, such as flavonoids and carotenoids – these may help to protect against some of the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease,” explains nutritionist and fitness trainer Cassandra Barns.
“Opt for oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and herring. They’re a source of omega-3 fats, which can help bring down inflammation and support heart health – which are both important for those with type 2 diabetes. Also, they can be a great source of vitamin B12, which is depleted by some diabetes medications and is vital for our brain and nervous system, energy and immunity,” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
To give yourself an added energy boost you can also try a supplement, such as CuraLin. “CuraLin is a specially formulated dietary supplement containing ten herbs and plant extracts traditionally used to support insulin sensitivity and help keep blood glucose under control. A word of caution, however: if you’re being treated for Type 2 Diabetes, consult your doctor before starting a supplement,” explains nutritionist and fitness trainer Cassandra Barns.
“Start each meal with a few bites of protein as this will prepare the body. Protein slows down the release of insulin, helps to balance blood sugar levels and can make you feel fuller for longer. Try eating eggs for breakfast or add some protein powder to yoghurt.”” explains Pippa Campbell, Nutrition & Weight Loss Coach (www.pippacampbellhealth.com).
“Berries are packed with flavonoids to help protect, and are low in sugar compared to other fruits, with a lower glycaemic index. Ideally, eat berries with a good source of protein, such as a natural yoghurt with a tablespoon of seeds or chopped nuts mixed in. This makes a great breakfast or healthy snack,” advises Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
“French fries are high in carbohydrates and the deep frying contains toxic compounds that promote inflammation, which increases the risk of heart disease. I suggest sweet potatoes instead as they have a high antioxidant component and low on the glycaemic index,” explains Dr Wendy Denning
“The sugar content of standard soft drinks is, of course, the primary reason to avoid them. But even sugar-free sweetened drinks are best avoided as artificial sweeteners and other additives they contain could have harmful effects too – even encouraging further weight gain!” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
Avoid pre-packaged snacks
“Pre-packaged snacks are low in nutrition and high in easily digested carbs that can spike your blood sugar. Eat raw carrots and a handful of nuts as a snack instead,” suggests Dr Wendy Denning
White breads and baked goods made with white flour
“White breads and baked goods made with white flour such as pastries, pizza, and crumpets should be avoided. This is because they’re made from refined flour and so are quickly broken down into sugars and absorbed. In fact, some of them have a higher glycaemic index (meaning they raise blood sugar levels faster) than pure table sugar! They can be replaced with whole grain alternatives – or preferably, foods made from whole grains that have not been broken down into flour – such as oatcakes, dark German-style rye breads, porridge or simply cooked brown rice or quinoa,” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
“Breakfast cereals are very high in refined carbohydrates and sugars and low in macronuttients, fat and protein. Eat 2 eggs and a piece of wholemeal toast for breakfast instead,” advises Dr Wendy Denning
“Dried fruit can contain 3 times the sugar of fresh fruit, so choose fresh fruit as it is also full of antioxidants,” suggests Dr Wendy Denning,