Diet and Nutrition

Type II Diabetes: What to Eat

Type II Diabetes: What to Eat

Key Takeaways

  • Spread your food consumption over the course of your day evenly.
  • Consume plenty of protein for overall optimal health.

Type II Diabetes: What to Eat

Once diagnosed as a Type II diabetic, many wonder what they should and should not eat, in addition to how much. You might not understand how frequently you should eat either, as variations in glucose levels due to food intake is an area of primary concern for every diabetic. This article focuses on helping Type II diabetics with some guidance regarding their daily diet. 

Being diabetic does not mean that you have to stop enjoying food. A realistic diet plan which can reconcile with your lifestyle is something which you should follow. A balanced eating plan which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and some dairy products should replace a diet of saturated fat, fried, and sugary foods. These changes will not only help control diabetes, and but also reduce further complications like strokes or heart attacks, which can be caused by increased blood sugar levels.

Food items which can be included in your 'to-eat' list will be discussed further. But before that, understanding when you should eat and how much you should eat are of critical importance.

So, What Should I Eat?

Timely eating and not overloading your body with food is something every diabetic should keep in mind.Y our blood glucose levels vary with the food you eat. Therefore, make sure to consume your breakfast, lunch and dinner at proper times and eat some light snacks one or two times in a day. This eating pattern will provide energy to your body and also maintain your sugar levels.

There is no such thing as special diabetic food, so it is important to remember that you have to make healthy food choices. It is a combination of different foods that make up a healthy diet.

Everyone needs carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a source of energy in many foods. But in case of diabetics, these carbohydrates, which generate energy, take time to digest. Due to this reason, keeping an account of the quantity of carbohydrates you eat becomes necessary. Some of these carbohydrates also have rich fiber content, required for easy digestion. So, always keep in mind to include some healthy carbohydrates like:

  • Vegetables rich in fiber like leafy greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Tortillas
  • Cereal

Protein is also important for growth and overall health. Some proteins that will help you keep diabetes under control are mentioned below:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Soy products
  • Fish
  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Skinless turkey breast
  • Lean meat
  • Eggs

Including healthy fat in your diet is as important as proteins, fiber or carbohydrates. If you are Type II diabetic, avoid saturated fats like cheese, meat, or dairy products like whole milk, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and concentrate on consuming unsaturated or healthy fats. Some of them include:

  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Vegetable oil

Always remember to follow the general rule of drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Sugary drinks include soda, sport drinks and fruit juice. Now this does not mean that you cannot drink sugary drinks at all, just try to limit them. Tea or coffee can also be consumed once or twice a day with a sugar substitute like Canderel. Always try boiling, baking, grilling or roasting your food, instead of eating fried food. If you need to have some dessert, have it at the end of the meal but try to make sure that you don’t binge on desserts everyday.

Also remember that food with high salt content can vary your blood sugar. Therefore, avoid eating canned, pickled or processed food, which has more salt as a preservative and choose to eat freshly cooked food.

How Much Should I Eat?

When you have diabetes, make sure that you are maintaining a healthy weight. Eating smaller portions of healthy food and eating multiple times a day is essential. Too much food loaded with carbohydrates can increase your sugar levels, while not consuming a balanced diet can make you feel tired and decrease your sugar levels. Also, always keep light snacks like nuts, salted crackers, candy or some fruits in your bag. If you feel dizzy, sweat profusely or feel tired, it is an indication that your body requires energy and you're facing low sugar, and you can control your sugar level for the moment with these snacks. You can also contact your doctor or dietician for a customized diet chart suited to your eating habits and needs. Limit alcohol and smoking as it can cause heart problems. With good control and awareness about healthy eating habits, diabetics is not that difficult to manage.

The Bottom Line

One of the most important things to remember is to use common sense when making food choices. It is important to think about all your possible food choices and make sure that your body is able to digest the food properly. Monitoring your sugar levels before and after food for a few days can help you find variations in the food you eat. Your body should be healthy, both physically and mentally. So, remember to drink water when you are thirsty and try to avoid skipping regular meals. Involving yourself in some physical activity like walking or playing badminton for at least 60 min per day can lead you towards a healthy lifestyle.

A small change in your diet plan can avoid long-term effects on your heart, kidneys, nervous system, eyes and feet, which are all connected with variations in your blood sugar level. Some, especially people who take insulin and other diabetic medications, should accurately follow a regime for their own good. If you can make a note of calorie intake and avoid gaining extra weight, while eating a wholesome meal, you can be your own diabetes manager.