Diet is an important part of diabetes management. Eating well not only helps with your diabetes control, but also with weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and general health.
Healthy eating is recommended for everyone, including people with diabetes. All individuals can enjoy the same healthy meals.
Read on for a general guide on how you can make healthy food choices and have a balanced diet. For nutritional advice personalised to your condition and needs, do speak to a healthcare professional such as a dietitian.
What is a healthy diet?
Food provides us with nutrients that we need for energy and for our body functions to keep us healthy.
Macronutrients that our body needs in larger amounts for energy. There are 3 main types: carbohydrates, protein and fat.
- Of these, carbohydrates have the greatest impact on blood sugar.
- While protein and fat may not have a direct impact on blood sugar levels, eating too much protein and fat can lead to weight gain which will increase insulin resistance and make diabetes control more difficult.
- The type and amount of fat consumed is important. Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are better for you. We should limit our intake of saturated and trans fats (e.g., found in fried chicken and baked products) to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Micronutrients that our body needs in smaller quantities are very important for many body functions, such as bone health and our immune system. There are 2 main types: vitamins and minerals.
NOTE: There is no one food that contains all the nutrients that we need. Instead, it is important that we eat a variety of foods in the right portions every day as part of a balanced diet.
My Healthy Plate
My Healthy Plate is a visual guide you can use to help you make healthy food choices.
A balanced meal consists of:
¼ plate of wholegrains
Wholegrains are richer in nutrients compared to refined grains such as white rice as they have not been over-processed.
As they are rich in fibre, they help you feel full for longer, which helps prevent overeating.
¼ plate = 2 servings of carbohydrates
Daily recommended intake = 5 to 7 servings of carbohydrates
¼ plate of good sources of protein
Protein sources include:
- Animal-based protein e.g., eggs, fish, chicken, dairy products such as milk and yoghurt
- Plant-based protein e.g., soy milk, tofu, nuts, beans and legumes
For quality protein intake:
- Choose lean over fatty meat
- Choose fresh over processed meat
- Have a mix of animal-based and plant-based protein
¼ plate = 1 serving of protein
Daily recommended intake = 2 to 3 servings of protein
½ plate of fruit and vegetables
Tips for eating fruit and vegetables:
- End your meal with fresh or frozen fruit for dessert
- Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juices
- Fruit juices are not recommended as they can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Instead, eat the whole fruit with the pulp and skin as they are high in fibre, which slows the absorption of sugar into your blood
- Add vegetables/fruits in your meat dishes to add colour, flavour and fibre to your meat dishes
- ½ plate = 2 servings, i.e., 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables
- Daily recommended intake = at least 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables
Make water your drink of choice. Sugary drinks can make your diabetes control more difficult and also lead to weight gain.
Unsweetened tea and coffee can be taken in moderation. Canned drinks usually contain a large amount of sugar. For canned drinks, opt for diet or 'zero' versions.
If you choose a sugary drink, avoid drinks with Nutri-Grade mark C or D, and opt for healthier options that have reduced sugar, such as drinks with the Healthier Choice Symbol or Nutri-Grade mark A or B.
Fruit juices are not recommended. While they usually have a 'no added sugar' label, they often contain large amounts of naturally occurring fruit sugar.