The Diabetic Diet

Let me begin this post by clarifying that having Diabetes is not a desirable disease and if it can be avoided through diet and exercise, it should.

I am not a doctor who specializes in this disease. All of my knowledge is from classes, seminars, and living with a Diabetic. My mother is a Type 1 Diabetic and has lived with the disease since she was 9 years old. She has had to deal with injecting herself 3 times a day every day and struggles every day to feel 'normal'. When you can't control your blood sugars and they get too low, you lose all control. I've also seen her go through countless doctor visits for her eyes, teeth and blood circulation. She was told when she was 9 that she wouldn't live past 50. She's now 54 but continues to struggle. It's a terrible disease and I urge everyone to do everything they can to avoid it.

There are two different types of Diabetes, but both share the same diet and lifestyle requirements. Type 2 Diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes) is a disease you can get when you don't provide proper nutrition and exercise to your diet for a long period of time, regardless of age. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, our blood ends up having too much glucose and some people will have problems with converting all that glucose into energy. The hormone insulin (which comes from your pancreas) normally helps your cells absorb glucose from your blood and use it for energy. When you consume the wrong types of carbs and sugars, which convert high levels of glucose in your blood, you end up becoming insulin resistant. Eventually, your pancreas loosing the ability to produce enough insulin from the new demand. Therefore, blood glucose levels rise without being secreted and you damage blood vessels and nerves which leads to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, loss of limbs, and much more. At this point your taking medicine every single day or your injecting yourself with a needle to provide the insulin you aren't getting naturally.

Type 1 Diabetes is less common because it comes when your pancreas is no longer functioning in your body due to a disease or lack of immune fighting response you had in the past. Children, teens and young adults usually suffer from this more than adults and elderly. This type of diabetes needs the same diet and lifestyle requirements as Type 2 Diabetes, but can never be cured.

Now that you have an understanding about the disease, I want to explain why I believe we should all adapt a diet as if we were Diabetic.

Our bodies need glucose to turn into energy in order to function. It is so important to nourish our cells so they can properly carry glucose to burn as energy instead of store as fat. This has never been more important for a Diabetic. Many of us, without even knowing it, are insulin resistant (or pre-diabetic) because we are eating too many sugar and carbs for our Pancreas to handle. For generations we've had the same organs that handle the same amount of glucose but suddenly Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise and only getting worse. Today, there are more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes.

So unless the idea of taking medications or injecting yourself every day, fearing the loss of your legs and eyesight, dealing with high blood pressure and not being able to drink your favourite glass of wine again is appealing to you, see how what you can do below:

How to adopt a Diabetic Diet

  • Eat low amounts of simple carbs - Eating none of this is ideal
    • Processed foods
    • Baked goods
    • Refined breads
    • Sugared cereals
    • Candy and desserts
    • Sodas and sugar drinks
  • Eat a high fibre diet consisting of mostly vegetables
    • Any and all vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) are allowed!
    • Whole grain foods in small amounts (rice, quinoa, etc.)
    • Legumes in small amounts
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Reduce your fruit intake
    • Berries are best if you need fruit
    • Banana's are worst
  • Increase your daily activity
    • Invest in a step tracker (like a FitBit or the UpBand) to stay on track
    • Exercise heavy enough to get your heart rate up at least 3x/week for 20-30 minutes. That's all! Walking is just as effective as running.
    • No time to workout? Make it a point to get up an extra 30 minutes earlier to get that exercise in before the busy day begins.
  • Eat lots of proteins and healthy fats
    • Tofu (organic is best) and lean meats like chicken and turkey
    • Omega 3's and 6's (fats don't affect your insulin hormone!) like coconut & fish oils, nuts and seeds
    • Fish

To see if you may be at risk for diabetes, click here. If someone in your family develops Type 2 Diabetes, you are at higher risk. By making proper lifestyle changes that include adequate diet and exercise, you can easily reduce the risk of getting the disease.

Chelsey Labusch