There’s no such thing as an anti-diabetes diet, but there are ways of eating that can reduce the risk and impacts of diabetes. 

Healthy eating can really help. So, it’s important to find the right diet for you.

The Diabetes College advises eating balanced meals with:

  • Lots of vegetables; ideally, enough to fill half your plate.
  • Foods that are high in fibre, with a low glycemic index – like brown rice and other whole grains – will not raise your blood sugar as much as their low-fibre counterparts.
  • Protein, which helps shape and repair the body after injury or stress.

Certain diets (low-carb or ketogenic) and intermittent fasting can also help treat diabetes. But your first step should be to consult a healthcare professional before considering any diet or exercise program.

What’s the best diet for managing diabetes?

If you have diabetes, a dietician can advise you. 

According to Canada’s Food Guide, a good diet can reduce blood sugar levels. It can potentially improve other health outcomes, too.

Canada’s Food Guide also gives tips on eating well. Basically, you need to:

  • eat some of everything, but not too much,
  • cook more often,
  • take the time to eat,
  • read nutrition labels,
  • limit processed foods and
  • choose good quality carbs.

The guide also tells you to eat with people you like. You can treat yourself once in a while.

If you have diabetes, you can check your blood sugar levels at home. A dietician will help you understand the results. They will tell you what to change in your diet to better manage your diabetes.

What is a low-carb diet and a ketogenic diet?

A low-carb diet – like the Mediterranean diet – reduces foods containing sugar or starch. It highlights vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats and proteins (olive oil, fish).

A ketogenic diet contains very few carbohydrates and lots of fat and protein. The body uses its fat to produce energy.

According to Stanford Medicine, both diets have “received high marks in controlling blood glucose levels and aiding weight loss”.

Ketogenic diets do, however, carry certain risks. They provide less fiber and fewer nutrients, and they can be difficult to maintain.

Be sure to seek the advice of a healthcare professional before starting one of these diets.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting involves going many hours a day without eating. Basically, it means limiting eating to a shorter period during the day.

It reduces blood sugar levels and helps you lose weight, which can reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes.

There are many ways to fast. For example – depending on their age, weight and health situation, some people go without food for a longer part of the day and eat only for a few hours.

If done properly, intermittent fasting can:

  • help you lose weight,
  • reduce inflammation,
  • improve insulin sensitivity and
  • reduce the impact of diseases like heart disease, as well as diabetes.

The potential disadvantages of intermittent fasting may include:

  • headaches,
  • dizziness,
  • fatigue,
  • irritability,
  • mood swings, and
  • sleep disturbances.

Caution! Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is very important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you’re considering this method.

A healthy meal plan for managing diabetes

Your ideal diet for preventing or managing diabetes should be:

  • healthy and balanced,
  • tasty,
  • varied and composed of plant-based, unprocessed, whole-grain foods, and
  • interesting enough to follow for the rest of your life.

A healthy diet is not a fad diet. Your diet should reflect your values, culture and preferences, and be sustainable over the long term.

This article is meant to provide general information only. It’s not professional medical advice, or a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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