Type 2 Diabetes
Need to Knows
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diet is Crucial
The right diabetic diet is crucial to managing diabetes. A sensible eating plan can help people with type 2 diabetes maintain stable levels and preserve their overall health. However, it's not as complex or out of the ordinary as you might expect.
A diabetes diet actually looks a lot like the healthy eating plan doctors recommend for everyone: plenty of fruits and vegetables, simple carbohydrates in moderation, and fats sparingly.
People with type 2 diabetes need to watch their calories, since eating more food means higher blood sugar levels. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following calorie guidelines for people who are managing diabetes:
- About 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day for small women who are physically active, small or medium-sized women interested in weight loss, or medium-sized women who are not physically active.
- About 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day for large women interested in weight loss, small men at a healthy weight, medium-sized men who aren't physically active, or medium-sized or large men interested in weight loss.
- About 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day for medium-sized or large men who are physically active, large men at a healthy weight or who are medium-sized, or large women who are very physically active.
Reach for the Right Carbohydrates
You can't avoid carbohydrates completely. They are our main source of energy, but they also lead to the biggest fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Choosing your carbohydrates wisely is critical to managing diabetes.
Complex carbohydrates, or those that are rich in fiber, should constitute between 45 and 65 percent of your daily caloric intake to make the best choices, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Get most or all of your carbohydrates from high-fiber sources like vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains. High-fiber foods are digested more slowly, which helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Avoid foods that contain sugar or refined flour, which are absorbed quickly and can cause your blood glucose to spike. Drink water rather than sugary juices and soft drinks. You should also limit sweets, like cookies and cake, since they're high in calories and not very nutritious.
The Right Fats
Fats contain more than double the calories of either carbohydrates or proteins, so any healthy diet should limit fat intake. Fats should provide only about 25 to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake. In particular, people with diabetes should limit or eliminate unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. These fats raise your risk of heart disease, which is already elevated if you have diabetes.
Saturated fats include:
- White "marbling" or solid fat in red meat
Any oil that is solid at room temperature is probably a saturated fat. Trans fats are produced when a liquid oil is turned into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation; avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.
Protein can help stabilize your blood sugar since it takes time to digest. Even so, be sure to choose lean meats, fish, and non- or low-fat dairy products. Protein should provide about 12 to 20 percent of your daily calories.
many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. Salt directly contributes to hypertension, so you should cut back on the amount of sodium in your diet. Eating fewer processed foods — for example, canned soups and microwave meals — as well as sauces and condiments will help lower your salt intake. Always look for foods marked salt-free, low-sodium, or unsalted.