Author: Denisa Zajíčková
When you think of a diet, you think of food without fat and sugar and the least tasty foods
Source: with the consent of MUDr. Denisa Janíčková Žďárská, Ph.D.
Living with diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean restricting your food. There are many tasty foods that even a diabetic can enjoy. However, it is important to follow certain principles. With properly adjusted nutrition, a diabetic can significantly reduce the risk of developing possible late complications of his disease, on the contrary, increase the inappropriate ones. What foods are a good option for a diabetic’s diet? And which ones are better to avoid?
For many, diet means starvation, limiting favorite food and some form of punishment for past transgressions. The term “diabetic diet” sounds all the more frightening. However, with a diagnosis of diabetes, the diet does not always have to change radically. A diabetic does not have to eat only salad leaves and boiled vegetables, on the contrary, he can choose from a wide range of proven and modern foods.
Basics of diabetic nutrition
Food has a major influence on blood sugar levels and the function of insulin in the body. After eating, the digestion process starts in the body and glucose is released into the bloodstream. Under normal circumstances, insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas – transports glucose from the blood into the cells, where it is used as energy. However, in diabetics either insulin does not work properly (type 2 diabetes) or there is a lack of it (type 1 diabetes).
Therefore, diabetics must be careful about what and how much they eat in order to maintain a stable blood sugar level. Carbohydrate restrictions are usually important because carbohydrates have the biggest effect on raising blood sugar. Careful monitoring of the diet and the correct selection of foods help diabetics maintain optimal glycemic control and minimize the risk of complications associated with high or low blood sugar.
Carbohydrates under control
Knowing the exact amount of carbohydrates in the diet of diabetics is a basic condition for achieving satisfactory diabetes control. Carbohydrates, or sugars, are found in almost all foods and are divided into simple and complex. We simply include all sugars and foods that are sweet and do not contain many other added substances as simple. Glycemia rises very quickly after these meals, so diabetics should avoid them and include them in the menu only in case of hypoglycemia, i.e. low blood sugar.
Other foods are mostly complex carbohydrates, they increase the blood sugar level rather slowly and are mainly contained in side dishes and baked goods. Among the foods, however, there are also foods with zero or minimal amounts of carbohydrates, and it is precisely these that can be included in the meal plan at virtually any time. If they are consumed in normal amounts, they will not increase blood sugar levels. We include meat, fish, cheese, sausages and selected types of vegetables.
Sunshine Coast Diet
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular not only among diabetics. Emphasis is placed on the intake of fresh and seasonal ingredients. The main components of the Mediterranean diet include a large amount of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish. It is rich in fiber, which helps regulate blood glucose levels and thus prevents high blood sugar levels after a meal.
It is characterized by a high content of olive oil, which is a suitable source of monounsaturated fats for diabetics. The Mediterranean diet also includes the consumption of nuts and legumes, which supply the body with protein and help maintain a stable blood sugar level.
Sweet life without sugar
A low-carb diet is also often called a low-carb diet. It focuses on limiting the intake of carbohydrates, especially fast-digesting ones such as sugars and starches. Certain side dishes should be avoided, including potatoes, pasta or rice, as well as many fruits such as bananas, mangoes, grapes, pears and apples.
Instead of them, the menu can be supplemented with foods rich in proteins and healthy fats and fiber. The ideal choice is meat, fish or seafood, nuts and most types of green colored vegetables. A low-carbohydrate diet is one way for diabetics to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. In the case of type 1 diabetes, it also allows for a reduction in insulin doses for meals, but it is always necessary to consult a doctor in advance to adjust the doses.
No meat at all
Even a vegetarian or vegan diet can be suitable for diabetics if it is carefully planned and followed. A vegetarian diet means a wide selection of plant-based foods without meat. A vegan diet includes only plant products and excludes any animal products, including dairy products and eggs. Both of these diets can bring a number of benefits to diabetics. The key is a limited intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, which contributes to reducing the risk of heart disease, which is often associated with diabetes. A plant-based diet is also rich in fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce blood sugar spikes. However, it is important that diabetics who choose a vegetarian or vegan diet ensure that they are getting enough protein, vitamins (especially B12) and minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine and zinc.
Diet always tailored
Diabetics should make sure that the chosen diet meets the individual needs of their body and health condition. He should also not neglect regular blood sugar measurements. Glycemic values after a meal indicate whether the diabetes treatment is set correctly. Values between 3.9 and 6.0 mmol/l fasting are considered optimal.
Diabetics should measure their values before and after meals using classic glucometers or modern sensors that read values continuously. The real-time monitoring system provides users with measured values every minute, without the need for painful finger pricks. Some modern sensors also offer optional alarms that warn of too low or too high blood sugar levels in time.
What else to watch out for?
Diabetics are advised to choose foods carefully and follow food labels. It is important to be interested in the composition of the consumed foods and their nutritional value in advance. In recent years, we have come across an increasingly wide range of alternative products, artificial sweeteners and dia foods in food chains. They may be suitable to diversify the diet, but may not always be beneficial to health.
For example, labeled foods “no added sugar” sometimes they have more fat and carbohydrates than traditional sweets. Rather, I would advise minimizing or eliminating these alternative sources of sweet taste. And if you have a sweet tooth, I recommend high percentage chocolate.
When choosing any more strict dietary direction, I always recommend that patients first consult with the attending physician. It is advisable to obtain more detailed information from certified nutritional therapists.
Source: editors, doc. MD Denisa Janíčková Žďárská, Ph.D., FreeStyle Libre