Eating healthy is important for everyone, but it’s even more important for people living with type 2 diabetes. A healthy, balanced diet together with exercise is the most powerful tool for managing the disease.
One method that you can use to manage your diet is called the plate method. This method requires you to look at your actual plate (9 inches across is the ideal size). You then divide it into 4 quadrants. As you put food on the plate, cover 2 quadrants with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, or cabbage. Cover 1quadrant with lean protein such as white-fleshed fish or white-meat poultry without the skin and the other quadrant with carbohydrates. This include grains, bread or starchy foods but are found in other foods as well.
Whether you also need snacks in between meals depends on your insulin regimen. Your doctor, nurse or dietitian can give you further advice on adjusting your carb intake with your insulin dose.
Another method is by counting the carbohydrate intake. When it comes to carbohydrates, you need to learn to count them. Doing this helps with two things, keep your blood sugar level under steady control and provide your brain and muscles with the energy they need to function.
Living with diabetes is all about controlling the glucose level in the blood. And because carbohydrates are turned into glucose when absorbed, people with diabetes need to be mindful of their intake.
Women with diabetes typically aim for 45-60 grams of carbs per meal and men 60-75 grams –and a third of that per snack. What matters when you count carbs is the amount – not the type. This is where food labels come in and the ability to read and understand food labels and to know portions and carbohydrate contents.
Another method is by looking at the glycemic index. The glycaemic index ranks food on a scale of 0 to 100 according to the food’s impact on your blood sugar. The higher the index, the quicker the food is digested and absorbed, leading to an increase in the level of glucose in the blood. It is important to know the glycemic index of the foods so that you know which ones to avoid or to cut back on.
Remember that diet, exercise and ensuring that you take your medication are all important in controlling diabetes.