Diabetes diet: Control your portions

What you need to know:

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of eating for everyone with diabetes. However, we have come up with tips that you can use to help you make healthier food choices.

There are two types of Diabetes. Diabetes 1 is when one’s pancreas cannot produce insulin while Diabetes 2 is where the body fails to use sugar properly.
Dr Grace Nambatya, a chemist, says when one suffers from diabetes 1, they have to take medication for the rest of their lives while Diabetes 2 can be managed with lifestyle changes.
“I also suffer from type 2 diabetes and I am more pro-protein. When I have to take carbohydrates, I am cautious if they are high energy foods such as sweet potatoes or cassava. I take small portions of these and instead go in for foods with low carbohydrates such as vegetables,” Dr Nambatya explains.

Small portions
She adds that foods should generally be balanced, particularly with colour and its respective ingredients. “As a person suffering from diabetes, you should not consume a big meal in one sitting. You need to eat in moderation and stop eating earlier in the day. For example, you should have had your last meal by 7pm,” she says adding that your meal should consist of food that can fit in your palm.

Partial fasting
Dr Nambatya adds that it is also good to practice partial fasting. For example, you can take a heavy breakfast and lunch and omit supper. This way, the body is able to adjust the sugar levels. The simple rule is to keep it simple and eat a lot more vegetables than any other foods.

Eat less salt
According to diabetes.org.uk, eating lots of salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart diseases and stroke. And when you have diabetes, you are already more at risk of all of these conditions.
“Try to limit yourself to a maximum of 6g (one teaspoonful) of salt a day. Lots of pre-packaged foods already contain salt so remember to check food labels and choose those with less salt. Cooking from scratch will help you keep an eye on how much salt you are eating,” the site states.
Additionally, healthline.com lists fatty fish as one of the foods diabetics should eat due to its omega 3 fatty acids that help to reduce the increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Leafy greens are also recommended for their low calorie levels and as good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. You must also consume chia seeds since they are high in fibre yet low in digestible carbohydrates. Turmeric also helps to lower inflammation and blood sugar levels.

Dr Nambatya also recommends eating nuts since they have been found to improve blood sugar control and reduce heart disease risk. “Studies in diabetics have found that broccoli may help lower insulin levels and protect cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolism,” she adds.
Uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk of several serious diseases. However, eating foods that help keep blood sugar, insulin and inflammation under control can dramatically reduce your risk of developing complications.

What does eating right mean for you?
If you have Type 1 diabetes, carb counting is really important to keep your blood glucose levels steady. This is where you estimate how many carbs are in your meal and match it with how much insulin you need to take.
If you have Type 2 and you are overweight, finding a way to lose weight is important as it really improves diabetes management. This is because it can help to lower your blood glucose and reduce your risk of other complications.