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Diabetes and Eating: Foods to
Eat and Avoid

By eating a healthy diet you can help to control your diabetes. Do not cut out any foods completely. Rather include balanced amounts of all types of foods.

Basic dietary guidelines:

  • Do not miss meals. Have three small meals during the day, with small snacks in between.

  • Enjoy a variety of foods daily.
  • Make starchy foods the basis of most meals. Include starches that have a low glycemic index (meaning that they do not raise the blood sugar too quickly) such as rye bread, whole-wheat seed loaf, bran cereal, sweet or baby potatoes, durum wheat pasta.

  • Eat fats sparingly. Use lower fat spreads; do not deep-fry foods; use a limited amount of vegetable oil for cooking; limit fats such as mayonnaise and avoid creamy sauces.

  • Include some avocados and seeds or nuts as these provide roughage, vitamins, minerals and essential oils.

  • Enjoy lower fat proteins such as skinless chicken; grilled/baked/steamed fish; ostrich fillets; extra lean minced beef and lean pork cuts; boiled or poached eggs. Other great proteins to include are tuna in brine, pilchards and sardines.
  • Eat dry beans, peas, lentils and soy regularly. These provide protein and are an excellent source of roughage. Baked beans on toast are an excellent choice for a meal. Add lentils and beans into meat and chicken dishes, and soups.

  • Use fat-free milk and fat-free cottage cheese. There are many low fat cheeses and fat-free or low fat yogurts available to include in your diet.

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits daily (at least 5). Try a variety of different colors of vegetables and salads, e.g. green beans and corn/spinach and butternut/peas and raw carrot sticks/ green salad and beetroot salad. Eat 2-3 fruits a day, e.g. apples, oranges, peaches, pears, kiwi fruit, berries. Avoid fruit juice unless you are exercising.

  • Avoid sugar in tea/coffee and sugar-rich cold drinks and/or “sports drinks” unless undergoing a strenuous exercise program.

  • Not all foods that include sugar have to be avoided. A good principle is to avoid the food if sugar is amongst the first three ingredients on the ingredient listing.

  • Use salt sparingly as diabetics may be more prone to developing high blood pressure (hypertension). Use herbs, fresh garlic and ginger, lemon juice, etc. to add flavor to foods.

  • Small amounts of alcohol can be included but must always be controlled — consult your doctor first. Always have with a meal; never on an empty stomach.

  • Use artificial sweeteners sparingly.

  • Be active. Walking and any planned exercise are great ways to help control your blood sugar. Have a small snack before you exercise, especially if you are a Type 1 diabetic.

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