Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses in the Western world. In Canada, it’s estimated that 9.3% of the population has diabetes, and this number is expected to grow to 12.1% by 2025. Diabetes affects the body by either preventing its ability to produce insulin or making cells unable to properly respond to insulin. This can cause high blood sugar levels, which can result in various complications including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
While diabetes can’t be cured, it can be controlled and maintained with proper lifestyle habits. By eating a proper diet, exercising regularly, and regularly monitoring blood sugar levels people affected by diabetes can keep their levels in an acceptable target range. Diet is one of the most important factors when it comes to proper control of diabetes, so it’s essential to be aware of proper eating habits.
Diabetics should try to eat a balanced diet of healthy carbohydrates, lean protein, unsaturated fats, and plenty of fibre. It’s always important to consult a doctor or dietitian when deciding on a meal plan and nutritional recommendations, but there are some good general guidelines to follow. It’s generally a good idea to eat 3 meals a day at regular times so that blood sugar can be controlled and kept consistent throughout the day. Maintaining a healthy weight is also helpful, as this also helps with blood sugar control.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that carbohydrates make up between 45-65% of total daily calories consumed. Fat should make up 25-35% of daily calories, and protein should provide another 12-20%. These figures are general guidelines, and will differ due to each patient’s different health condition and dietary needs. Diabetics should work with a dietitian to determine the right nutritional balance for them, and the foods that can help them achieve said balance.
While each person may have different dietary requirements, these recommendations for what to eat are generally healthy options for anyone, and especially for diabetics.
These foods should be avoided or consumed in moderation. Diabetics should be especially mindful of these foods, as they can cause cardiovascular risks which diabetics are already at increased risk of.
By working with doctors or dietitians, diabetics can establish a healthy meal plan so that blood sugar levels stay in a designated target range. Diabetics should aim for a diet rich in lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Foods high in unhealthy fats, sodium, refined carbs, and sugar should avoided. While poor management of diabetes can raise the risk of other serious health conditions, proper eating habits and lifestyle choices are extremely effective in helping to control blood sugar levels and stay healthy.
Wendy studies English Language and Literature at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
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