We’re all individuals and as dietary needs can vary significantly from one person to another, it’s important that your diabetes diet is best suited to you. The key to a healthy diet for diabetes is understanding how to control the intake of calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and salt. Foods that are good for controlling your blood sugar are also good for all. You should take into account anything from allergies to how active you are.

Base meals around vegetables

Don’t let vegetables be an after-thought for your meals. Vegetables can be positively delicious and are great for adding vibrant color to your plate. Vegetables:

  • provide a great source of vitamins and minerals
  • slow down the absorption of carbohydrate – reducing post meal blood sugar level spikes
  • help us feel more full for longer

It’s advised to dedicate half of your plate to non-starchy vegetables.

Our advice differs from common advice to base meals around starchy foods, as studies have shown that even lower GI starchy foods can often raise blood glucose levels relatively steeply.

Keep a food diary

Keeping a food diary means noting down everything you eat throughout the day. Taken over a week or a month, they can be useful for reviewing a number of factors of your diet including:

  • How many calories you may be taking in
  • How carbohydrate intake varies from day to day
  • Whether you’re over-relying on snacking
  • Whether you’re getting sufficient amounts of fruit and vegetables each day

With a bit of commitment, a food diary can be a great way to see what’s going well with your diet, as well as identifying any areas for improvement.

Avoid or cut down on energy dense food

Energy dense foods are foods that carry a large number of calories in a small portion.  Typical examples include foods such as:

  • Chips
  • Pies
  • Fast food style hamburgers
  • Fries
  • Donuts

Often chosen for convenience reasons, these foods can lead to sharp rises in blood sugar levels, usually lack a good source of nutrients, and leave us hungry again soon after eating, despite having high calorie content.

Preparing your own food the night before a day of work or college will help to reduce the calories in your lunch and keep you better sustained through the day.

Let your blood glucose meter guide you

A blood glucose meter can be a powerful tool in helping you to choose blood sugar friendly meals and individual foods.

To judge the effects of different food on your blood sugar levels, you need to take blood tests before and after eating. The after meal test is usually taken 2 hours after eating, but some people may also wish to test 4 hours after eating as well.

Whilst all people with type 1 diabetes should test their blood glucose levels regularly, many people with type 2 diabetes may benefit from blood glucose monitoring.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are testing your blood glucose levels, set out what you wish to find out from your testing and when to test to achieve this. This will help you to ensure your testing continues to be of maximum use.