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Diabetes diet: what the diabetic diet really is

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Anyone who tells you that you have to stick to the diabetes diet – if you have Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes – is talking about something that does not exist. There is no diabetic diet!

There is, however, a healthy eating plan that everybody should be following. This means that just because you have diabetes (1 or 2), it doesn’t mean that you have to eat something different to the rest of the family. Diabetes in South Africa is often a problem because families are stuck in bad eating habits: so if you change the way your whole family eats, you’ll be doing everyone a favour.

Basically, then, the diabetes diet is the way all of us should be eating: low fat, high fibre (i.e. lots of wholewheat and wholegrain), as little processed and refined food as possible (i.e. white bread, pastries, cakes etc) and as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t ever have any sugar, but it does mean you should have it rarely, as a treat, and in small portions.

The ‘diabetic diet’ doesn’t exist, because there is no one magical way that will make your blood sugar behave. But there are definitely ways to eat that will help to give you as balanced blood sugar as possible – without the spikes and dips that processed food and food with a high GI count will give you. Check out this diabetes meal plan for some great recipes and ideas, and this basic diabetic menu to get a full week’s menu ideas.

What is the most helpful thing you’ve learnt about food and diabetes?

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.