Diabetes and Nutrition
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People who have diabetes have too much sugar in their blood. Managing diabetes means managing your blood sugar level. What you eat is closely connected to the amount of sugar in your blood. The right food choices will help you control your blood sugar level.
Path to improved health
Eating well is one of the primary things you can do to help control diabetes.
Do I have to follow a special diet?
There isn’t one specific “diabetes diet.” Your health care provider will probably suggest that you work with a registered dietitian to design a meal plan. A meal plan is a guide that tells you what kinds of food to eat at meals and for snacks. The plan also tells you how much food to have. Food should be low in cholesterol, low in salt and low in added sugar.
Can I eat any sugar?
Yes. In recent years, health care providers have learned that eating some sugar doesn’t usually cause problems for most people who have diabetes–as long as it is part of a balanced diet. Just be careful about how much sugar you eat and try not to add sugar to foods.
What kinds of foods can I eat?
Your health care provider or dietitian will help you set a goal for a healthy meal plan. Contact your health care provider or dietitian for specific advice.
Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy foods and starchy foods such as breads. Try to have fresh fruits rather than canned fruits, fruit juices or dried fruit. You may eat fresh vegetables and frozen or canned vegetables. Condiments such as non-fat mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are also carbohydrates.
Protein. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans and some vegetables. Try to eat poultry and fish more often than red meat. Don’t eat poultry skin, and trim extra fat from all meat. Choose non-fat or reduced-fat options when you eat dairy, such as cheeses and yogurts.
Not all fats are bad. It is important to know the differences between fats. Unsaturated fats are the “good” fats (nuts, fish, olive oil, canola oil, seeds, etc.). Saturated fats are less healthy. You should limit these in your diet. They include red meats, butter, lard, full-fat dairy products, dark-meat poultry, etc. Trans fats are the worst fats for you. These fats can be found in processed foods like crackers, snack foods, and most fast foods. To identify trans fats, check food labels for the words “partially hydrogenated.” Your doctor or dietitian will tell you how many grams of fat you may eat each day. When eating fat-free versions of foods (such as mayonnaise and butter), check the label to see how many grams of carbohydrates they contain. Keep in mind that these products often have added sugar.
Things to consider
If you don’t manage your diabetes, you are putting yourself at risk for many other health problems. The best way to manage diabetes is through diet, exercise, and sometimes medication. Poor diabetes management over time can lead to kidney disease and heart disease. It also can damage your eyes and nerves. It can cause skin tissue problems, especially on your feet and legs.
An important part of managing your diabetes is monitoring your blood sugar level. It’s easy to do this yourself either through a blood glucose monitor or a continuous glucose monitoring system. Your healthcare provider can help you decide which method is best for you.
If you are unable to control your blood sugar through diet and exercise, talk to your healthcare provider. It may mean that you need medication to help in your diabetes management. Some signs of uncontrolled high blood sugar include:
- Blurry vision
- Unquenchable thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dizziness or being light-headed
- You are more emotional than normal for no obvious reasons
FOR MORE INFORMATION
NS Diabetes Care Program Website
NS Government Website
PEI Government Website
NS Diabetes Care Program Website at: