Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
Diet management, oral medication and insulin injections are essential to the treatment of diabetes
The good news is, if you know
how to choose your food wisely you may be able to control your diabetes with less or no medication at all. Meal planning is the cornerstone to good diabetes control.
Meal planning in diabetes aims to achieve:
If you are overweight, you should try to lose some weight. A Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5 to 23 is considered healthy.
Studies have shown that a 5 percent weight loss can remarkably improve diabetes control.
You can calculate your BMI using the following formula:
Body Mass Index (BMI) = Weight (kg) / [ Height (m) x Height (m) ]
Check your BMI with this
BMI Calculator on HealthHub.
Simple Weight Management Tips
You should eat a variety of foods in the
correct proportion to meet your nutritional requirements.
The Healthy Diet Pyramid shows the different groups of food that you should include in your daily meal plan. You should eat more of the foods at the base of the pyramid and less of the foods at the top of the pyramid.
Carbohydrates are found in starches and sugars. Carbohydrates have a direct effect on your blood glucose levels.
To prevent your blood glucose from rising too high, foods containing carbohydrates should be:
These foods contain starches and they are your main source of carbohydrates. You should eat consistent amount of these foods in a meal and throughout the day.
To ensure that you eat a consistent amount, you will need to quantify your amount of carbohydrates.
Consult your dietitian for the amount that you need per day. To help you quantify the amount of carbohydrates, compare the amount of food you eat with one slice of bread.
The following foods are equivalent to one slice of bread:
You should choose foods with a higher fibre content e.g. whole-meal bread instead of white bread.
These foods provide you with antioxidants, essential vitamins and
fibre. You should eat two servings of each per day.
Fruits and certain vegetables (see the list below) contain carbohydrates and should be eaten in consistent amount.
The carbohydrate content of one serving of the fruit and vegetables listed below is equivalent to one slice of bread.
High Fibre Food
Dairy products like milk and cheese are good sources of protein as well as calcium. You should take at least one cup a day. Milk contains carbohydrates and one cup (300ml) is equivalent to one slice of bread. Choose milk with the lowest fat content like skimmed and low fat milk.
Meat and alternatives are important sources of protein. It does not directly affect your blood glucose levels. However it contains saturated fats. So you should watch out for the fat content. You should eat two to three servings per day.
Choose only lean meat and poultry without skin, and limit the number of egg yolks to two per week.
Balancing Your Diet with My Healthy Plate
The foods found at the top of the pyramid should be taken sparingly.
Salt and sodium-rich products like sauces, preserved and canned foods have been linked to
high blood pressure.
Reduce the sodium in your diet by adding less salt and sauces in your cooking, and using herbs and spices to flavour your food.
Sugars contain carbohydrates. Although studies have shown that sugar and sugar products can be included in your meal plan, it should be counted as a carbohydrate substitute.
Three teaspoons of sugar is equivalent to one slice of bread. However, one slice of bread will give you more nutrients than three teaspoons of sugar. So
If you have a sweet tooth and find it difficult to stop eating sweet things, artificial sweeteners can be used to sweeten your drinks.
Although fats do not directly increase your blood glucose levels, excessive intake will increase your weight and has an impact on your blood cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats like animal fats, certain types of vegetable oils like palm and coconut should be reduced as these fats increase your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels.
Use unsaturated fats like olive or canola oils in cooking. Foods should be prepared with a minimum amount of fats.
Cooking methods like roasting, grilling or steaming rather than deep-frying are encouraged.
You should consult your dietitian for your meal plan. Your dietitian will be able to advise you on the amount of carbohydrates you need per day and tailor your meal plan to fit into your lifestyle.
Get the Fact on Fats
Besides choosing your food wisely, exercise will help you lose and maintain your body weight and increase the effectiveness of your insulin.
Diabetes and Exercise
If meal planning does not control your diabetes, your doctor may have to prescribe some tablets for you.
many different types of tablets available to treat Type 2 diabetes. These tablets are a tool to help you manage your blood glucose level in addition to the meal plan and exercise that you need to follow.
If both diet and tablets fail to control your blood glucose to the desired level, insulin injections may be needed.
Your doctor may have prescribed one of the following for you:
How does it work?
How should I take it?
Helps pancreas to release more insulin.
Take the tablet(s) everyday before meal(s).
Do not miss or delay meals.
Take the tablet(s) immediately before each main meal.
Biguanides e.g. Metformin (Glucophage®)
Helps the body to use insulin more efficiently.
Take the tablet(s) with the meal or after the meal.
Thiazolidinediones e.g. Roziglitazones (Avandia®)
Take the tablet(s) before or after the meal.
Glucosidase inhibitors e.g. Acarbose (Glucobay®)
Helps to stop the quick rise of blood glucose after a meal.
Take the tablet(s)with the first mouthful or immediately before each of the three main meals.
Before taking your medicine, inform your doctor if:
If you take your medicine but do not eat on time, your blood glucose may become too low. You may experience weakness, dizziness, hunger, sweating, trembling, blurred vision, unsteady gait or fast heartbeat.
These symptoms may occur. Consult your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away.
Rashes may occur when you are taking these medicines. If you have rashes, inform your doctor immediately.
If you have any of the following side effects, inform your doctor:
How Do Diabetes Pills Work?
A person with type 1 diabetes is dependent on
insulin injections as his/her pancreas is unable to produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, there may be times (e.g. during illness, surgery or pregnancy) when the usual tablet treatment may not be effective and have to be temporarily replaced by insulin treatment.
In addition, many patients with type 2 diabetes do much better on daily injection, especially when tablets are no longer effective. This does not mean that their diabetes is worse. Insulin should only be used when prescribed by a doctor and adjustments of the dosage should be supervised.
Insulin cannot be taken by mouth because it is digested and destroyed by the stomach. Currently, the only way to receive insulin is by injection.
There are different types of insulin preparations which are based on:
1 - 2 hours
1/2 - 1 hour
1 - 3 hours
4 - 8 hours
4 - 12 hours
16 - 24 hours
Premixed (Short & Intermediate)
2 - 12 hours
8 - 24 hours
28 - 36 hours
For more information about the preparation of insulin injection, please click
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This article was last reviewed on
Thursday, October 17, 2019
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Your guide to managing and preventing diabetes mellitus in Singapore. Learn more about type 2 diabetes and the signs and symptoms to look out for. Articles contributed by SingHealth Polyclinics, National University Polyclinics, National Healthcare Group and Health Promotion Board.
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