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Understanding diabetes nutrition: 10 great tips for a healthy diabetes meal

Living with diabetes: Understanding diabetes nutrition

Did you know that the dietary guidelines recommended for people with diabetes are the same as those recommended for general health? That means you don’t need to prepare separate meals for yourself at home – your family can simply adopt your healthy habits!

healthy diabetes nutrition

10 helpful tips for a healthy diabetes diet

Follow these 10 tips each day to promote a balanced and healthy meal plan to help manage your blood glucose levels:

  1. Eat at least three balanced, regular meals each day, incorporating a variety of different foods.
  2. While your healthy meal plan does allow for a small amount of sugar found naturally in many foods, avoid excess sugar and refined carbohydrates, as these promote poor blood glucose control.
  3. Include small servings of high-fibre carbohydrate foods, such as oats, bran cereals, brown rice, sweet potato, baby potatoes, wholewheat pasta, seed loaf, beans and lentils.
  4. Aim to eat at least three servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit every day.
  5. Include a portion of lean protein into each of your meals to help improve blood glucose control.
  6. Lose weight, if necessary. A weight loss of as little as 5 to 10% of your body weight can dramatically improve your blood glucose control.
  7. Cut back on saturated fats, such as butter, chicken skin, high-fat dairy products, fat on meat
    and processed meats, like sausage and boerewors.
  8. Use healthier monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts and peanut butter.
  9. Eat fish, especially oily fish like sardines, pilchards, mackerel and salmon, at least twice a week.
  10. Use salt sparingly, as excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Not sure what meal plan to follow? You can consult with a registered dietitian to compile an individualised meal plan specific to your needs, taking into account your food preferences, level of physical activity and lifestyle.

Eating for diabetes

Here’s a helpful guideline to illustrate what a balanced meal should look like, and how to divide up your plate. Aim for 1/4 plate high-fibre carbohydrates, 1/4 plate good quality proteins and 1/2 plate vegetables. Eat fruit in moderation, small amounts of healthy fats and some dairy.

Building balanced meals

Looking for delicious diabetes-friendly recipe ideas? Check out our free Sweet Life Pick n Pay Diabetes Cookbook!

Pick n Pay is committed to promoting health and wellbeing among South Africans and employs the services of a registered dietician to provide food and nutrition related advice to the public. For your nutrition and health related queries, contact healthhotline@pnp.co.za or toll free on 0800 11 22 88

What to read next?

How to interpret food labels for diabetics: How do you know if a product is going to be good or bad for your blood sugar? Once you understand what to look for on food labels, you’ll be able to choose the right products to help control your blood sugar.

Free Healthy Food Guide: how to eat healthy with diabetes or to lose weight: This Healthy Food Guide shows you exactly which foods to choose (and which to avoid), as well as sharing which portions to eat.

Eat healthy for diabetes: The one article you need to read about diabetes and diet.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

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4 Comments

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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.