Diabetes is not a death sentence, it is a way of life. This is a phrase that endocrinologists love to say. Keeping a therapeutic diet is one of the essential steps in the treatment of diabetes, allowing you the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life.
A diabetic diet is an essential part of the treatment. This condition is characterized by the insufficiency of insulin – a specific hormone generated by the pancreas, which regulates metabolism of carbohydrates. The main attribute of diabetes is the elevation of blood sugar, however, the dysfunction of the carbohydrates metabolism doesn’t go independently, it leads to problems with fat and protein metabolism.
A diabetic diet consists not only in the limiting of carbohydrates consumed. A person with diabetes should have in his or her menu such food that would help to normalize function of other body parts and systems, which are, as a rule, affected by this hormonal disease. For example, if diabetes is accompanied by an excessive weight, which happens fairly often, the diet needs to include a lot of vegetables that contain a few calories but give the feeling of fullness: cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, peas, cabbage, and salad. As the liver is also often affected by diabetes, the diet should limit the consumption of meat and fish broth, but always contain fresh cheese, soy and porridge, which are good for liver function. The cardiovascular system also experiences some effects of diabetes and requires lower amount of salt in the food.
The two existing types of diabetes require different approach towards the diet. A diet for type 1 diabetes is not as important, as the treatment is mostly based on insulin injection, so this diet can be less limited. A diet for type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is essential: at early stages it often helps to control blood sugar level only by following dietary recommendations without use of any sugar-lowering medications.
Diabetic diet: main principles
- Regular and frequent meals 4 times a day, same time every day.
- The number of calories and nutritional value should be equally distributed between all main meals.
- Great variety of food, recommended for people with diabetes.
- Use of xylitol or sorbitol to sweeten your food.
- Control calorie for the everyday menu with the use of special tables.
- Limit liquid intake down to 1200 ml, including first courses.
- Eat food rich in vitamins: rose hip herbal tea, yeast broth, and others.
- Regular control of blood sugar and adjustment of the menu according to the check-up results.
A diet for type 2 diabetes
Contemporary medicine has numbers assigned to all therapeutic diets for easier use. For example, a classic diet for diabetes has the number 9.
So what does this diabetic diet include?
- bread (with preference towards rye pastry) 200-300 g;
- soups made with vegetable broth;
- cooked or steamed meat or poultry;
- cooked or steamed lean fish;
- vegetables: white or flower cabbage, salad, turnip, cucumbers, radish, beet-root, carrot, potatoes;
- 2 eggs a day;
- non sugary fruits and berries: some apples, oranges, lemons, red-bilberry, cranberry, red currant;
- 200-400 ml of kefir or sour-milk a day;
- up to 200 mg of fresh cheese a day;
- mild sauces, including those made of milk;
- appetizers: vegetable salads and jellied fish;
- drinks: tomato juice, milk tea, non-sugary juices, compotes made without sugar;
- 40 g of butter and vegetable oil per day.
Use of the following types of food is limited
- Cereals, beans and pasta can be eaten in limited amounts. And in this case you should eat less bread.
- Soups made from watery meat or fish broth can be allowed twice a week at most.
- Sugar and diabetic sweets can be allowed after a doctor’s permission and advice.
- Milk is allowed per doctor’s advice.
- Eating cheese, cream and sour cream should be limited.
The following is prohibited
- chocolate, candies, cakes, pastry, honey, preserves and so on;
- pork and lamb lard and bacon;
- spicy, salted and smoked food;
- sweet fruits: bananas, raisins, grapes;
- any type or form of alcohol.
The Diet #9 is intended for people with stable diabetes. If the person’s condition worsens somehow, the list of allowed food gets more limited. A final decision regarding the diet for type 2 diabetes is ultimately up to the doctor.
A diet for type 1 diabetes
A diet for type 1 diabetes depends on the use of insulin, that’s why people with type 2 diabetes also taking insulin refer to this diet.
The content of this menu differs very little from that for type 2 diabetes, but it absolutely excludes sugar. However, it is highly recommended to always carry along a cube of sugar or a candy to prevent having a hypoglycemic condition if needed. This condition means too low blood sugar and might lead to a coma in most severe cases.
Modern blood sugar monitors and carbohydrates tables allow such people to have more fulfilling life, food-wise. Existence of such notion as a Bread Unit (BU), which equals to 12 g of carbohydrates, allows people with insulin-controlled diabetes to eat sometimes even the non-recommended food or just more carbohydrates than is typically allowed. However, to use this advantage a person needs to measure level of the blood sugar every time before eating and take necessary amount of insulin calculated according to the number of BU in the meal. You can use special table to calculate the number of bread units you can consume.
Everything said above doesn’t mean that a person with type 1 diabetes can eat anything as much as he or she wants. One meal should not be more than 7-8 BU. These limitations are even more strict for people with excessive weight.
Specifics of the diet for type 1 diabetes is that it contains a higher level of protein. This requirement is more important for people with infectious complications and trophic disturbances in the limbs.
Planning of the detailed diet, alternation of meals and hourly insulin injection time-table should be done only by the treating physician.
A slimming diet for people with diabetes
People with diabetes often have excessive weight, especially those with type 2 diabetes. That’s why the point of limiting calories in the diet might be a hot topic for them. In such case, however, none of the “fast” mono-diets should be used. Such prohibition is caused by the high risk of developing severe low blood sugar condition in case of breaking the balanced dietary pattern. It would be practically unavoidable for people with type 1 diabetes and moderate type 2. A diabetic diet for a person with excessive weight would be a variation of the diet #9 with lowered level of refined carbohydrates (sugar) and some limitation of fats. Such decision, however, should not be made without a doctor’s advice: only your treating physician can help plan a safe menu with lowered level of calories.