What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and comes from carbohydrate foods we eat. Carbohydrate foods include bread, pasta, rice, cereals, fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and milk and yoghurt. The body breaks carbohydrates down to glucose which then enters the blood stream. For glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy, a hormone called insulin must be available.
Diabetes occurs when the body does not make insulin or when the insulin that is made is not working properly. This leads to increased blood glucose levels and diabetes.
Learning how to manage your diabetes will help you feel better and help to prevent health complications caused by high blood glucose levels. Healthy eating and knowing how food affects your blood glucose levels plays an essential role in you managing your diabetes.
What should I eat?
A healthy diet for diabetes includes the right balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
To help manage your diabetes, your meals should be:
- An appropriate size – not too large
- Regular and spread evenly throughout the day
- Lower in fat, particularly saturated fat
- Based on high fibre carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, dried beans, lentils, starchy vegetables and fruits.
Carbohydrate foods are the best energy source for your body. All carbohydrate foods are digested to produce glucose but they do so at different rates – some slow, some fast.
The Glycaemic Index or GI is a way of describing how a carbohydrate containing food affects blood glucose levels. The type and amount of carbohydrate you eat is very important as some can cause higher blood glucose levels after eating. The best combination is to eat moderate amounts of carbohydrate and include high fibre foods that also have a low GI.
To find out the amount of carbohydrate that is right for you, make an appointment with one of our friendly Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APD).
Healthy eating for people with diabetes is no different to what is recommended for everyone. There is no need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods, so relax and enjoy healthy eating along with the whole family.