Living with diabetes series

The Diabetes Diet and Living with Type 2 Diabetes

And the role carbs play in the diabetes diet.

Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

The moment someone hears I am living with type 2 diabetes the first question is — what do you eat? I have to confess that when I was diagnosed in 2014, I imagined giving up everything I enjoyed eating — thanks to all the myths I’ve heard.

The good news is, there is no diabetes diet. That’s right. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, that is. Each individual has a different constitution, different needs, and generally, the doctor recommends making changes in what we eat and how much we eat without making drastic changes unless the situation warrants it.

It is all about planning. By managing what we eat cleverly, we can still continue to eat some of our favorite foods.

The diabetes diet can be flexible.

Let’s look at what healthy eating means — as it also applies to type 2 diabetes:

  • Including variety, with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats
  • Portion control, which means no overeating
  • Eating well-spaced meals, preferably at the same time every day
  • And most importantly, not skipping meals, especially breakfast

Pretty much what we learned in the fifth grade, eh? Except some of us forget to apply it along the way.

Being diagnosed with diabetes means making some changes in the diet.

Does that mean I can never eat cake again? No. It is okay to occasionally indulge in a small piece.

Carbohydrates in the diabetes diet

We need carbs in our diet because they provide the fuel and energy to go about our routine. Examples of carbs include: bread, rice, cereal, pasta and other starchy foods, dairy and that means milk and curds/yogurt, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables like corn, potatoes, beans and legumes, sugary foods, and other snacks (juices, sodas, cookies/biscuits, candy, cake, chips)

Our body converts carbohydrates into glucose or blood sugar from which we get energy. The insulin in our body helps us use glucose properly. An excess of glucose in the blood triggers problems.

All carbs turn into blood glucose eventually, so we must focus on healthy carbs. With diabetes, it is critical to get the right amount of carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar at target levels. Fluctuating carb intake can make blood sugar levels go crazy and so, it is important to ensure that the same quantity of carbs is consumed with every meal.

Counting carbs means knowing how to read labels and which foods are carb-rich so you can control your portions. A dietician can help you develop a good meal plan that suits your lifestyle, keeps you satisfied, and gives you the right number of calories.

What are healthy carbohydrates?

Fiber qualifies as a healthy carb since it does not get digested and does not have a significant effect on blood sugar. This is why diabetics are advised to get enough fiber. It is beneficial and makes one feel fuller, longer.

The important thing to remember is to balance our food, medication, and exercise to manage type 2 diabetes. The diabetes diet need not be depressing.

We can monitor our diet and control blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight by doing the following:

  • Eating healthily
  • Consuming complex carbohydrates with every meal (whole wheat, oats, brown rice, millets, etc.)
  • Eliminating refined and processed foods like bakery items made of white flour, polished rice, and white bread as they shoot up blood sugar levels rapidly. can raise blood sugar levels.
  • Adding fiber-rich foods — vegetables, whole grains
  • Getting protein via low-fat dairy products — milk, curd, paneer, tofu, pulses, lentils
  • Focusing on leafy green vegetables and minimizing potatoes.
  • Adding functional seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower/watermelon/pumpkin seeds to the diet.
  • Taking the doctor’s advice on fruit consumption. Limit banana and mango, but if you must, early in the morning is best.
  • Going easy on the butter, oil, and ghee. Use healthy fats.
  • Minimizing processed foods — this means cakes, cream biscuits, ready-to-eat foods which are full of fat, sodium, and hidden sugars that will spike your blood sugar.
  • Cutting sugar and salt intake. These can directly mess up blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Have to repeat — no sugar. No honey. No jaggery. What about artificial sweeteners? Preferably avoided as they can interfere with healthy gut bacteria.
  • Going out for a few hours? Pack a snack so you don’t suffer from low blood sugar. A handful of almonds or a piece of fruit is a good idea.

Also, talk to your doctor about your specific target blood sugar levels. Monitor your fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels regularly. Keep a food diary to track which foods raise your blood sugar. Not every food acts the same way for everyone. A food that raises my blood sugar may not raise yours.

Stay healthy!

Tomorrow we’ll bust some diabetes diet myths!

In a majority of people diagnosed with diabetes, the main problem is the lack of diabetes education. The Living with Type-2 Diabetes series will cover various aspects of the condition with tips and suggestions to manage it better.

In this series so far:

The ABCs of Diabetes

Blood Pressure and Living With Diabetes

Does Dessert Have a Place in the Diabetes Diet

The Cholesterol-Diabetes Connection

Disclaimer: The information in this post is purely for educational purposes only and does not substitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Writing about Self Improvement, Mindfulness, Meditation, Parenting, Health, Travel, Life, Books. Showing my diabetes who’s boss. Visit: