When it comes to eating for diabetes, the basics are following a balanced and varied diet eating from all five core food groups, that is; vegetables, fruits, breads and cereals, dairy and alternatives and meat and alternatives. Before going through important dietary factors it is important to understand the condition.
Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body cannot maintain healthy blood glucose levels (BGL). Glucose is a type of sugar which in excessive amounts can build up in the blood causing damage to our blood vessels and nerves over time. Glucose in the blood is usually controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced in a gland called the pancreas. When food is eaten and enters the bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into the cells where it is broken down to produce energy. The cells however, can only store so much glucose at one time, so excess will remain in the bloodstream and can negatively impact our health.
There are 3 main types of diabetes and they are categorised as:
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D): is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas produces little to no insulin and require insulin injection for their lifetime for their survival. It can occur at any age, however is most common in children and young adults.
Type 2 Diabetes (T2D): is where the body cannot adequately process the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. T2D usually occurs in people over 40 years of age but is now becoming increasingly common in younger age groups. It is associated with lifestyle factors including poor diet, physical inactivity and overweight and obesity as well as some hereditary factors. People with T2D may be able to manage their condition through lifestyle changes, or may require medication or insulin replacement.
Gestational Diabetes (GD): occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves once the baby is born. However the risk of developing T2D increases for those who have had GD. GD is managed through healthy dietary and exercise patterns during pregnancy and medications if required.
When talking about diabetes and diet it is common to hear about carbohydrate and sugar intake as these provide glucose to the bloodstream. If you have diabetes there is no need to avoid carbohydrates all together but think about the type of carbohydrates you are eating and the portions you are eating them in. Carbohydrates from our core food groups also provide dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals essential to the body’s functioning, therefore should not be avoided. It is all about the type of carbohydrates you eat, the amount and timing of when you eat them.
You may have heard about carbohydrate exchanges or carbohydrate counting. This is an exchange system that makes it easier to spread carbohydrate intake evenly across the day, improving BGL’s assisting in the management of diabetes. The amount of carbohydrate required depends on various factors and should be discussed with your doctor, diabetes educator or dietitian. For people with diabetes who take insulin, carbohydrate exchanges help for the insulin dose to be adjusted around meal times and activities throughout the day.
A carbohydrate exchange is equal to 15g of carbohydrate and a health professional will usually guide you to how many exchanges to have at mid and main meals to ensure you well controlled BGL’s throughout the day. It can be difficult to understand at the beginning but once you get your head around what foods you enjoy, their carbohydrate content and how many exchanges you should have at mid and main meals it all becomes quite easy. Below is a sample daily intake of a person recommended to consume 0-1 exchanges at mid meals and 2-3 exchanges at main meals and the carbohydrate sources are in bold.
2 Weetbix with ½ cup low fat milk and ½ banana
1 small coffee
1 cup of steamed rice, chicken chow mein and 1 apple
1 slice raisin bread
Roast lamb, 1 baked potato, pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower with 1 slice bread
From the above example, you can see that it contains fairly common foods and consists predominantly of the five core food groups. This highlights the importance to gain carbohydrates from these core food groups and not from highly processed nutrient poor foods such as chocolate, chips and lollies. To ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements and controlling your diabetes efficiently contact Coast Sport now to book in with one of our experienced dietitians.
Book an appointment at Coast Sport by calling 4356 2588 or book online via the button below.