November 29, 2017 6:55 am Leave your thoughts
If you suffer from Type 2 diabetes – or are at risk of doing so – it’s vital that you maintain a good diet, to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. With a wealth of sometimes contradictory information out there, we thought we’d strip it all back to basics and look at the simplest, clearest advice for taking care of your own blood sugar levels.
What’s a healthy blood sugar diet?
The NHS advice is clear and concise:
- eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables, some starchy foods such as pasta
- keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
- eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – don’t skip meals
If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week.’
This is, of course, good dietary advice for everyone, and as important for those who don’t have diabetes as for those who do. If followed, it should ensure you feel as well and as energetic as you possibly can.
Diabetes organisations break the advice down further, advising you to eat:
- Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (more if you can)
- Complex wholegrain carbohydrates, including wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown or wild rice. These starchy foods are high in fibre, keeping your digestive system working well, and are low GI (glycaemic index) foods, meaning that their natural sugars are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream
- Meat, fish, eggs, pulses and nuts: for protein
- Dairy produce: for healthy bones. If you’re vegan, you need to consider carefully where you’re getting your alternative vitamins and minerals from.
How much sugar are you really eating?
While nothing is off-limits for diabetes sufferers, it’s recommended that you keep your sugar intake to a minimum. And this, of course, can be really hard.
It can be difficult to be absolutely sure how much sugar we’re eating. NHS guidelines say that those aged 11 and over, with a normal lifestyle, should not eat more than 30g (around 7 tsp) of added sugar a day.
To work out how much you’re consuming, you’ll need to think about how much you add yourself to any food you make (and to hot drinks too). For ready-made food, you need to check the ingredients list. You’re looking for added sugar, but it probably won’t be called that – it might not even be termed ‘sugar’. Look for the words honey, molasses, hydrolysed starch, glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, corn or other syrup, and for added fruit juice. It’s all sugar, just under another name. Ingredients labels list ingredients in order of their contribution to the product: the nearer the start ‘sugar’ is, the more sugar that product contains.
You can also check the Nutritional information label. Here, you’ll find ‘Carbohydrates (of which sugars)’. Look at this figure to see how much sugar the product contains for every 100g. If it’s more than 22.5% of total sugars, it’s high in sugar. If it’s 5g or less, it’s low. Quinoa, for example, works out at around 3% (and none of that is added sugar). A bag of chocolate buttons, meanwhile, is around 55%. Remember, when you’re doing the maths, that you may be eating more (or less) than 100g of the product!
It’s a good idea, if you’re concerned about your sugar intake, to check every bit of food you eat. Sugar is hidden in all manner of ingredients and processed products, including in savoury goods.
Along with exercise, and medication where unavoidable, diet is a key element to controlling blood sugar levels. It’s also one of the best ways of taking control of your own health. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is important for everyone – and absolutely vital if you suffer from diabetes.
Tags: blood sugar, blood sugar levels, brown rice, diabetes, diet, Fish4ever, Nuts, Pulses, quinoa, sugar, Type 2, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta, wild rice
This post was written by Yzanne