Eating well can go a long way in helping you achieve good blood sugar control .
The dietary recommendations for people with diabetes are similar to those for the general population.
Some basic tips
Eat three balanced meals a day and snacks if needed. Avoid skipping meals.
Have a regular meal schedule. These should be spaced about 4 to 6 hours apart. Snacks should be taken 2-3 hours after a meal, if applicable.
Eat a variety of foods from different food groups: vegetables and fruits, starches, milk and alternatives, meats and alternatives.
Choose foods rich in dietary fiber: vegetables and fruits, whole grain products, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc.
Compose your meal according to the balanced plate model .
Limit the consumption of sugary and low-nutrient foods (cakes, pastries, sweets, chocolate, cookies, brown sugar, honey, molasses, syrups, jams, etc.). These should only be consumed in small amounts and occasionally.
Prefer water to hydrate you rather than fruit juices and sugary drinks.
If you consume sugar substitutes (aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharins, stevia, etc.) or products that contain them, do so in moderation.
If you drink alcohol, it is best to do so while eating and stick to the recommended amounts .
Pay particular attention to the portions and distribution of foods containing carbohydrates : fruits, starches, milk and alternatives, legumes, certain vegetables and foods with added sugar.
For the health of your heart:
Limit the consumption of foods high in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.
Limit the consumption of foods rich in salt: chips, cold cuts, prepared or frozen meals, marinades, store-bought sauces or soups, etc.
* People with diabetes should consult a dietitian-nutritionist. It has been shown that nutritional monitoring with a dietitian or nutritionist can, on its own, reduce the level of glycated hemoglobin (A1C) by 1 to 2%.
Vegetarianism and diabetes
Eating a well-structured vegetarian diet may be suitable for a person with diabetes, and may even prove beneficial. Whether you’re considering vegetarianism or not, replacing a meat meal every once in a while with plant-based protein dishes (tofu, legumes, tempeh, etc.) is a great habit.
There are many reasons for being vegetarian: health and the feeling of well-being, religion, culture, ethical or ecological reasons, as well as the economic aspect.
There are different more or less strict practices of vegetarianism. Generally, the main sources of protein are legumes (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, etc.), soy and its derivatives (tofu, tempeh, PVT – textured vegetable protein, etc.) and nuts, but some also consume protein from animal sources such as fish, milk or eggs.
The benefits for people with diabetes
Several aspects of a vegetarian diet are beneficial for people with diabetes. Indeed, she:
offers a diet rich in dietary fiber , which has a positive impact on blood sugar levels, satiety, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved lipid profile.
suggests a diet low in total and saturated fat, helping to lower bad cholesterol (LDL), blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is higher in people with diabetes.
helps achieve a healthy weight promoting insulin sensitivity.
Your diet plan can be adapted to take into account the fiber content and sometimes higher carbohydrate content in the vegetarian diet. A dietitian / nutritionist can help you.
Are there any risks?
Depending on the type of vegetarianism and depending on the stage of life (pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, adolescence, old age), certain nutrients should be closely monitored:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Folic acid
- Omega-3 fat
Adopting a vegetarian diet may require re-evaluation of your medication, based on your blood sugar and cholesterol control results. Sometimes it may be necessary to take a supplement. To find out if your diet meets your needs, do not hesitate to consult a dietitian / nutritionist. Your doctor can also check for a deficiency in any of these nutrients with a blood sample.
The health risks of vegetarianism often stem from poor diet planning, especially in people with restricted and monotonous diets.
Tips for a balanced vegetarian diet
Choose from a variety of foods, including whole grain cereal products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, and, if desired, some animal foods.
Eat plenty of various fruits and vegetables.
Make sure to include a source of protein with every meal, such as legumes, tofu, peanut butter, nuts, etc.
If cow’s milk is excluded from the diet, consume milk substitute drinks that are fortified (eg: soy beverage or other fortified vegetable drinks).
Compose your meals based on the balanced plate model .
If needed, take vitamin and mineral supplements as directed by a healthcare practitioner.