The following diabetes diet tips could help you either prevent or treat type 2 diabetes… 

According to the Nutrition Information Centre Stellenbosch University (NICSU), the four most important factors in diabetes management are:

  • Healthy eating habits – No special products are required
  • Regular exercise – 20- to 30-minute exercise sessions, three times a week. People with a heart condition or people who have not exercised for a long time should consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine
  • The use of medication/insulin injections, as prescribed by a healthcare worker
  • Regular testing of blood sugar levels

Diabetes diet tips

Here are 15 dietary guidelines from NICSU to help people with diabetes manage the condition while helping prevent the disease in healthy people without this chronic disease:

  1. Lose weight – People with diabetes who are overweight or obese are advised to lose weight. You can improve insulin resistance by losing as little as 5% to 10% percent of your body weight.
  2. Eat a variety of different foods at every meal, and vary the preparation techniques you use to make healthy food. This ensures that your diet contains sufficient nutrients and that it is more enjoyable.
  3. Eat at least three balanced meals per day.
  4. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day.
  5. Increase your fibre intake by:
  • Eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread
  • Having oats, oat bran, or whole wheat cereals e.g. high-fibre cereal for breakfast
  • Including a lot of vegetables and fruit in your diet
  • Regularly eating legumes (peas, lentils, beans and soya), and including barley, samp, brown rice and whole wheat pasta in your diet

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  1. People with diabetes may benefit from foods with a low GI/GL (food that slowly/gradually releases glucose into the blood thereby keeping blood sugar levels balanced), as long as it is incorporated into a balanced diet.
  2. Limit your fat intake, especially saturated- and trans fats, such as animal fats, full cream dairy products, coconut, hard margarine, confectionary (e.g. chocolate, pies and cookies), and palm oils (e.g. coffee creamers and artificial cream). Rather use mono-unsaturated fats in limited amounts (e.g. use canola oil or olive oil instead of sunflower oil, spread avocado or peanut butter instead of margarine on bread).
  3. Eat fish two to three times per week, and chicken more regularly than red meat.
  4. Small portions of red meat are allowed, but it is advised that you frequently replace red meat with fish, chicken, legumes (e.g. peas, beans, lentils and soy) and eggs. Processed meat products such as polonies, Viennas and sausages are unhealthy – rather eat beans, eggs, nuts, peanut butter or lentils.
  5. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Buy vegetables and fruit that are in season and include as much variety as possible. Fruit contains sugar, therefore you should eat only one fruit at a time to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. Don’t consume more than 125ml fruit juice per day.
  6. Aim to eat or drink at least two cups of milk, cottage cheese or yoghurt per day. It is recommended that you consume low-fat products, as it contains the same amount of protein and calcium, but has less fat than full cream products.
  7. Follow cooking methods that limit the addition of fat (e.g. margarine, oil, mayonnaise, cream and cheese) during food preparation. Try boiling, steaming, baking and grilling.
  8. Use small amounts of salt in food preparation and avoid the use of extra salt at the table.  Rather use herbs, salt-free spices and flavouring instead of salt.  Avoid processed foods with a high salt content.
  9. Only consume alcohol in moderation (one to two glasses a day) and always with a meal.
  10. Manage your carbohydrate and sugar intake by limiting or avoiding cakes, cold drinks, sweets, cookies, and sugar-sweetened desserts and drinks (including alcohol), which are very high in energy, but low in nutrients.

World Diabetes Day is commemorated on 14 November 2018.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.