A relatively small weight loss of 7 percent of body weight has been shown to help prevent diabetes. Strive to stay at your own lowest sustainable weight, even if that is above what the charts say you should be. It is better to aim for a smaller weight loss and be able to keep that weight off than aim for an unrealistically low number, which could cause a "rebound" effect.
The best way to avoid these foods is to shop around the edges of the grocery store and minimize the number of processed, packaged foods in the middle. Sticking with "real" food in its whole, minimally processed form is the best way to eat well for diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet pattern like the ones discussed here reduce the risk of complications that stem from high blood sugar, like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
The breakfast should be 1/3 fruit, 1/3 starchy fiber foods (multigrain bread and cereal products), and 1/3 protein (nuts, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy products). The lunch and dinner plates should be 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 starchy fiber foods, and 1/4 protein. Choose whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and brown rice to increase fiber intake. Most of these are low in fat. Choose only lean meat and poultry.[81,82,83,84] Remove skin and trim fat before cooking (50-100 g or 2-4 oz). See the milk fat (MF) of all dairy products. Use skim or 1% milk products and low-fat cheese (less than 20% MF), or choose fortified soy products. Reduce your total fat intake (less than 25% - 35% of your daily calories). To achieve this, always try to choose low fat foods and avoid fried foods. Limit saturated and trans fats to less than 10% of your daily calories. Try to always choose unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils and non-hydrogenated margarine (in moderation). Saturated and trans fats raise blood cholesterol levels, while unsaturated fats lower blood cholesterol. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are usually of animal origin. They are found in meats, whole milk, dairy products, butter, and hard margarines.[85,86,87,88,89,90] Trans fats are found in baked and pre-packaged foods. Hydrogenation is a process that changes liquid vegetable oil into a solid fat such as hard margarine. The hydrogenation process changes some of the good fats into cholesterol-raising saturated and trans fats. People with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing or have already high levels of fats in their heart and blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and tuna, and in flaxseeds (2 tbsp per day, freshly ground).[90,91,92,93] Three to four servings of fish per week is recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Omega-enriched foods are also available in supermarkets such as omega-3 eggs and omega-3 enriched dairy products. Omega-3 supplements: Always look for the active ingredients DHA and EPA. Recommendations are 600-900 mg/day. Always check with your doctor or registered dietitian before taking any supplements. Increase fiber in your diet by eating more whole grain foods, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.[94,95,96] These foods also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and have a lower glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods will help to keep your blood sugar levels in the target range.[97,98,99]
As a bonus, stress relief may help you sleep better, which is important because studies show that not getting enough sleep can worsen type 2 diabetes. Sleeping less than six hours a night has also been found to contribute to impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes. In fact, a review published in 2015 in Diabetes Care analyzed 10 studies that involved more than 18,000 participants combined and found the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes in the group of participants that slept seven to eight hours per day. That’s the minimum recommended amount of sleep for most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Contrary to popular belief, not all carbs are off-limits if you’re managing diabetes. In fact, the ADA recommends vitamin-rich whole grains in a healthy diabetes diet. These foods contain fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. Fiber can also promote feelings of fullness, preventing you from reaching for unhealthy snacks, and it can help slow the rise of blood sugar. Plus, whole grains contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are healthy for anyone, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not.
Sugar and processed carbohydrates should be limited, says Massey. That includes soda, candy, and other packaged or processed snacks, such as corn chips, potato chips, and the like. And while artificial sweeteners like those found in diet sodas won’t necessarily spike your blood sugar in the same way as sugar, they could still have an effect on your blood sugar and even alter your body’s insulin response, though more research is needed to confirm this.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes also increases as people grow older. People who are over 40 and overweight are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, although the incidence of this type of diabetes in adolescents is growing. Diabetes is more common among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. Also, people who develop diabetes while pregnant (a condition called gestational diabetes) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
When the insulin levels are unable to keep up with the increasing resistance, blood sugars rise and your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and starts you on a pill, such as metformin. But metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs – the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart. Much of this extra sugar will also just get turned into fat.
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When picked well and eaten in moderation, dairy can be a great choice for people with diabetes. Just keep fat content in mind, as being overweight or obese can reduce insulin sensitivity, causing prediabetes to progress to full-blown diabetes or increasing the risk of complications if you have type 2 diabetes. Whenever possible, opt for fat-free dairy options to keep calories down and unhealthy saturated fats at bay.
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
If you eliminate concentrated sources of carbohydrates (foods that turn into sugar in your blood stream) like candy and cookies, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for diabetes medications. Everyone with type 2 diabetes will benefit from an improved diet, but you may still need other interventions, such as increased physical activity, weight loss or medications to keep your blood sugars in the target range. Check with your doctor about any diabetes medication dose adjustments that may be required if you change your diet.