Making the right food choices is an essential part of managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but there are some key differences.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, good nutrition is an important part of your diabetes management. A diabetes diet can help keep your blood glucose under control, keep you healthy, and ultimately reduce your risk of diabetes complications.
The Essential Diabetes Diet
In general, people with diabetes should make sure their diet is balanced and healthy, which means including:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Lean, skinless meats, like chicken and fish
- Fiber-rich foods, such as peas and beans
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread/rotis, brown rice, etc.
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Limited intake of fat and salt
Beyond these basics, diabetes diet recommendations do differ somewhat for people who have type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Diet Recommendations
When you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce insulin on its own and you need to take insulin, usually by injection. Since your blood glucose levels can change dramatically, depending on how much food you eat and how much activity you are doing, you need to carefully balance your food intake with your insulin dosage. This may involve:
- Working with your loved ones (family) and diabetes specialist to create a personal meal plan — guidelines to help you choose foods for three meals and between-meal snacks
- Monitoring your blood glucose levels and making adjustments in your meal plan to keep those levels under control
- Carbohydrate counting — closely monitoring your carbohydrate intake — since carbohydrates have the biggest effect on your blood glucose levels
- Learning how to adjust your insulin dosage to handle special food situations, from office parties to holiday buffets
Type 2 Diabetes Diet Recommendations
In some cases, insulin is required to manage blood glucose levels in people who have type 2 diabetes. If this is the case, it is important for you to balance your insulin with your food intake, as described above. But for most people with type 2 diabetes, blood glucose levels can be managed through diet, exercise, and oral diabetes medications.
The goals of type 2 diabetes diet recommendations are generally to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and other common complications of type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is often an important part of a type 2 diabetes diet plan, since obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Dietary recommendations for people with type 2 diabetes typically involve:
- Having a balanced diet that is low in fat
- Avoiding consuming empty calories that come from foods that are high in calories, but low in vitamins and minerals
- Watching portion sizes and calorie intake in order to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
Consulting a Dietitian
Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, your doctor may probably recommend that you consult a dietitian, who can design a diabetes diet plan tailored to you.
Your plan does not have to dictate exactly what foods you will eat, but it will give you general guidelines to follow so that you will consume the right combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to meet your needs — and live well with your diabetes