Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached significant proportions among children and adults. Uncontrollable diabetes has severe consequences, including diseases of the kidney and heart, blindness and other difficulties. Even prediabetes is said to be linked with these conditions.
Further, eating the wrong foods can increase blood sugar and insulin levels, and trigger inflammation which might increase the risk of diabetes.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs with time and involves problems getting sufficient sugar (glucose) into the cells of the body. Although glucose is fuel for muscle and brain cells, it requires insulin to transport it into cells for use.
When the insulin level is low, and the sugar cannot carry into the cells where it is supposed to be, it results in elevated blood sugar levels. With time, the cells form resistance to insulin (insulin resistance), which then needs the pancreas to make more insulin to move sugar into the cells. However, a lot of sugar is still left in the blood.
The pancreas eventually gets tired and will no longer be able to secrete sufficient insulin to transport the sugar into the cells for energy.
Here, we will tell you about all the foods that you have to avoid in your diet and the foods that you have to include in your diet if you are someone with type 2 diabetes.
What Foods To Avoid?
- Sodas: As sugar-sweetened regular soda and even diet soda increase blood sugar
- Refined Sugars: cakes, doughnuts, sweets, pastries, cookies, scones, candy
- Processed Carbs: Chips, white bread, pasta, salted snacks
- Trans Fats: This includes anything and everything with the word ‘hydrogenated’ on the label such as butter spreads, mayonnaise spreads, salad dressings, bakery goods, and packaged sauces.
- High-Fat Animal Products: Red meat, fatty cuts of pork, sausage, bacon
- High-Fat Dairy Products: Whole milk, cheese, cream, ice cream
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is used in soda, candy, and packaged food items.
- Artificial Sweeteners: These are mainly used in processed foods with the ‘diet’ label.
- Highly Processed Foods: Novelty sweets, chips, candies, cookies, kettle corn.
The most effective way to avoid the aforementioned foods is to shop around the isles of the supermarket that does not stock packaged foods. Sticking with instant-prepared foods, and those that are minimally processed is best to eat well for diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet reduces the risk of complications such as obesity and cardiovascular diseases that result from high blood sugar.
What Are Some Diabetes Superfoods?
Superfoods are those which improve and promote your health along with supplementing the required fats or calories, protein, and carbohydrates to your body. These foods may be specifically rich in certain types of vitamins or other nutrients that are highly advantageous for people with type 2 diabetes.
Chia is a type of seed that is rich in protein, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also considered as a superfood since they bring down the glycemic load of your meals, stabilise the blood sugars, and increase your hunger satisfaction.
Therefore, adding a few of these seeds to your breakfast menu will help you stay full for long. Further, chia seeds are excellent ingredients for baking and cooking when you want a thicker consistency.
Although vinegar is usually used as a salad dressing, it is beneficial no matter how you take it. It is known to slow down the gastric emptying which benefits people with type 2 diabetes. Further, it slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream, enabling for steady and small insulin response in place of a large insulin stream.
Vinegar is also said to increase hunger satisfaction. Therefore, if you eat your salad dressed with vinegar, you are less likely to overeat.
Cinnamon helps lower the blood glucose level in people with type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that one teaspoon of cinnamon a day is found to be very beneficial. Some of its benefits are:
- Lowers both fasting as well as after-meal blood sugar levels.
- Can be sprinkled on oatmeal.
- Easy to add to any dietary pattern.
- Makes for a tasty coffee
- High polyphenol content prevents health complications.
Lentils contain important vitamins, have rich protein content, and have lots of fibre. They are also rich in iron, B vitamins such as folate, and other minerals.
Further, they have the right balance of protein and complex carbohydrates (high in fibre) and can be cooked in various varieties.
While the green and brown lentils are firm when cooked which makes for a healthy and tasty salad, the orange lentils become soft when cooked which makes them best suited for curries, dal, and Indian soups. The green and brown ones stay firm when cooked and are delicious in a salad.
Salmon, undoubtedly, is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, it is considered as a superfood for people with type 2 diabetes.
The fatty acids levels in wild salmon and farmed salmon are different, the main reasons being the kind of fish they eat. While wild salmon eat smaller fish and live in colder waters, farmed fish are grown in a controlled environment. It is a type 2 diabetes superfood because salmon is a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
There are differences in the fatty acids in the wild versus farmed salmon. Farmed fish contain around ten times more antibiotics, organic pollutants, and other contaminants, thereby making them a risk factor for heart diseases and cancer.
These are some foods that you should include and avoid while preparing meals at home. Just because you are a person with type 2 diabetes, it does not mean that you should not satiate your once-in-a-while cravings or stop going to your favourite restaurant.
Extra Tips To Keep In Mind
Well, let’s see how you can fulfil your taste buds when you go out with your friends or family or significant other.
First things first, it is very important that you stick to a diabetes meal plan. The key to eating healthy food when you are out is knowing what foods to eat and which cooking methods will promote your health and not deteriorate your condition.
Dine On Time
If you are already taking medication or insulin for your diabetic condition, then it is important for you to plan your outdoor meal at the right time. In other words, make sure you eat on time even when you go out.
So, what you can do is look for restaurants that accept reservations so that you do not have to wait for your turn during peak hours or weekends. And if are going to a place that does not take reservations, avoid going there during peak hours.
In case you have to wait, ask the waiter to get you a fruit serving or bread while you wait or go to a nearby place and order an appetiser.
This is the only way for you to know how healthy is the meal you are getting. Make sure whatever you order from the menu is included or fits your diabetes meal plan.
One important thing here is that it is very normal for a person to shy out. Well, don’t. Ask if there is butter or salt added and make sure to exclude those ingredients from your order. And the same remains for side dishes.
Pay Attention To Carbs
The body needs carbs for energy, so they are a vital part of every diet, along with one for type 2 diabetes. When you have too many carbs at once, it affects your blood sugar, i.e., glucose, thereby, causing problems.
Eat low-carb foods such as vegetables or high-quality ones such as whole grains to make sure your blood sugar level is in the target range. There are three main types of carbs.
Sugars: They can either be natural sugars that come in fruits or added sugars in processed foods.
Starches: Contained in whole grains and legumes.
Fibre: It is the indigestible part of plant foods. When eating out, you should either stay away from or limit sugars. The same goes with refined grains and white bread. Have a limited quantity of high-quality starches and fill up on fibre, which actually helps in controlling your blood sugar.
Choosing a spinach salad with added protein, some of which are grilled chicken or fish make for a good low-carb option for lunch or dinner.
Beware Of Hidden Sugar
Well, when you hear the word Sugar, you will obviously be thinking Desserts, and yes, you are right. Most of the dessert part have ‘sugar’ written all over. But you may be surprised about how much sugar content is present in other items on the menu.
Just one tablespoon of honey contains about four and a half teaspoons of sugar, and 1 cup of fruit in heavy syrup has 12 and a half teaspoons of sugar. Therefore, you would want to avoid food items that use sweet ingredients.
If you did not know, even salads could have sugar content in them. Make sure to ask for dressing on the side or add some oil and vinegar as dressing to your salad to avoid the hidden sugars.
When you’re ordering healthy meals at restaurants, watch what’s in the beverages, too. Further, even regular sodas, natural fruit juices such as orange or grape juice have sugar content.
Have It Cooked “Your Way”
Remember that you are a person with type 2 diabetes. You should not hesitate to ask if any of the dishes you ordered can be grilled, baked, or broiled instead of fried. These cooking methods can remove a lot of extra calories from your dishes.
However, if you find yourself eating fried food, remove the outer breading or dab the food with a tissue to get rid of the excess oil. Doing so will help you cut back on calories and fat.
Eat It Plain
When the dish your order is served with a lot of dressing, butter, creamy or cheesy sauce, or sour cream, you are taking in a whole lot of calories. And this is not something you want to be a person with type 2 diabetes.
We recommend you ask to be served plain and if any sauces, serve them on the side so you can choose how much to have. A tip you can follow here is to dip your fork in the sauce and then in your food.
Pay Attention To Portion Size
Restaurants offer very generous portions, unlike the servings you take at home. Therefore, it will be difficult for you to stay on your required portion. So what you can do is split the meal with your mates so that you can pay attention to how much you are eating.
Or if you are eating out alone, then you can ask your server to pack half of it so that you can take it home with you. Also, you need to watch how much of that entree you are munching on – chips and salsa, bread baskets, and appetisers as they add to your total carb and calorie count for the meal as well.
Limit High-Sugar And Alcoholic Beverages
Because you are following a type 2 diabetes diet when eating out, you might not want to use up all your carbs and calories on alcohol or sugary drinks. You can replace those with lemonade, tea or water with a slice of lemon.
Further, we recommend that you talk to your doctor if it is okay for you to have alcohol on an empty stomach as they lower the blood sugar. If you decide to have a drink or two when you are eating out keep some things in mind. Make sure you read the ingredients to make sure you include all those carbs in your overall diabetes meal plan.
It is a fact that home-made meals help you have full control over your carb and calorie count. But we cannot deny that eating out once in a while has its own pleasures. Gathering with your loved ones or folks can introduce you to new cuisines while also helping you spend some quality time with them.
However, people with Type 2 may often be afraid of eating out. They fear that it will affect their sugars or their weight. Living with a type 2 diabetes does not mean that you cannot eat out.
If you follow these above-mentioned tips and stick to your diabetes meal plan, you can enjoy your favourite dishes from your favourite restaurants.