MANAGING your diet as a diabetic can be hard work and can sometimes feel like a full time job in itself.
Constantly looking through the labelling of products and timing your meals can be tiring, but there are foods you can avoid to prevent your blood sugar spiking.
Diabetes can be a difficult condition to live with and it’s imperative that diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under control[/caption]
When you’re diabetic your body can struggle to produce enough insulin or the insulin isn’t effective.
With type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces no insulin, but in type 2, cells in the body become resistant to insulin, so a greater amount of insulin is needed to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range.
Even if you have a balanced diet, it can be hard to keep your levels in check.
It’s important that you don’t cut any food groups, whether you have diabetes or if you’re just trying to improve your diet.
A balanced diet contains foods from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
It’s also essential to understand that it’s difficult to target particular areas for fat loss.
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Again this can be done through a range of exercise and healthy food choices, while cutting down on some foods will help – there are also certain exercises that you can do to target belly fat.
Speaking to The Sun GP Dr Sally Roxburgh from The Fleet Street Clinic said it is important for those with type 2 diabetes to control their sugar intake as well as control their weight, portion sizes, and calorie intake.
She added: “Getting enough exercise and lifestyle choices are equally important.
There are certain foods that should be avoided if you have type 2 diabetes, while other foods should be consumed in moderation.”
1. Fruit juice and smoothies
Dr Roxburgh said it can be easy to over indulge when it comes to fruit juices and smoothies – meaning you are packing in extra sugar and calories which can lead to both glucose spikes and weight gain.
She explained: “Fruit juice and smoothies should be avoided as they can put blood sugar up very quickly.
“Fruit in general can be consumed and I would never recommend excluding any fruit totally because of the nutritional value that fruit contains, however, there are certain fruits that I would recommend over others for someone with type 2 diabetes.
“For example, berries or an apple rather than pineapple, oranges or bananas. Tinned fruit, however, I would avoid as it is kept in a high-sugar syrup.”
Healthy smoothies can sometimes have just as much sugar as fizzy drinks in them – even though the sugars are natural these can contribute to weight gain.
2. Processed meats
Dr Roxburgh said processed meats such as salami and ham and fatty red meat should be avoided.
She said: “These can cause weight gain which makes diabetes harder to control. Instead, opt for leaner meats such as chicken and turkey.
“Ready meals and processed foods should be avoided as they often contain hidden sugars and fats that make blood sugars high, cause weight gain and predispose to heart disease.
“A combination of a healthy, balanced diet, weight management, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle choices will be the best way to manage type 2 diabetes.”
Studies have previously revealed that processed meats lead to weight gain in as little as two weeks for people who eat it on a regular basis.
The study found that people eating processed meats ate an average of 500 calories more than those who did – and an excess of calories equates to weight gain.
3. Carb-based foods
Speaking to The Sun, Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart said once carb-based foods are digested, the sugars element of the carbs is absorbed into the bloodstream.
She explained: “Then your pancreas produces insulin to remove glucose from the blood and to allow it to be used by your cells.
“If the blood sugar of a healthy person gets too high then more insulin is produced, slowing down the breakdown of fat, thus fat accumulates more easily in the body.
“Various foods can raise blood sugar and this is not a bad thing as blood sugar will rise after any snack or meal.
“But the foods that make your blood sugar rise more quickly are the carb-based ones such as rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit and anything with added sugar.”
Dr Newman-Beinart added: “Don’t forget if you eat wholegrain foods then the fibre in these causes your blood sugar to rise more slowly.”
Top tips to make sure you're on the right path to weight loss
Personal trainer Lewis Paris explained that we need to dispel myths when it comes to fat loss.
He said: “When losing weight we can’t simply decide where we want to lose fat, it’s impossible, instead we lose fat all around the body.
“Yes we can help encourage certain areas around the body to “tone up” by performing certain exercises but we still can’t pinpoint exactly where the fat will be lost.”
To ensure you’re on the right path to losing weight and shedding belly fat, keep it simple and focus on these 3 things:
– Understand your daily maintenance calories and eat 2-300kcal less
– Increase your NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (walking, cleaning, gardening, playing with your kids etc)
– Introduce LISS workouts x1-2 times per week: Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (bike ride, brisk walk, cross trainer)
He added: “To increase your chances of burning belly fat and building a solid core, you must first understand how to contract & breathe correctly during your workouts.
“This will not only encourage good technique and a saved lower back but it’ll help improve your mind to muscle connection, your muscles will get stronger and you’ll build a more toned physique around your midsection.”
4. Sweetened drinks
While this might seem like an obvious bet, it’s best to avoid drinks that have added sugar and sweeteners.
The NHS says you should drink plenty of sugar-free fluids if you have high blood sugar levels as this can help if you’re dehydrated.
Dr Roxburgh added: “It is also best to try to avoid adding sugar to your drinks such as in your tea or coffee. Similarly, alcohol should be limited as it is calorific and high in sugar.”
Associate professor of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago Rasa Kazlauskaite, MD said that it’s hard to control your blood sugar levels if you’re constantly having sweetened drinks.
This could include fizzy drinks, juices or even coffees laden with sweeteners.
She said that even though these drinks are calorific, they don’t actually make you feel any fuller and if consumed in excess can lead to weight gain.
“While for the most part the best course of action is to entirely avoid sweetened caloric drinks, a small serving of these beverages can be helpful in quickly raising blood sugar when people are struggling with acute hypoglycemia.
“If you don’t have low blood sugar and are simply craving something sweet, you can scratch the itch with a sugar-free seltzer.
“Still, your main beverage of choice should be water. If you have trouble putting away water without the flavor, try adding pieces of freshly sliced fruit to your water bottle, she told Everyday Health.
A little bit of what you fancy every now and again can be good for us.
But for people suffering with high blood sugar levels, this has to be narrowed down even further.
Cakes have teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar in them and often you won’t be able to find out how sugar laden they actually are, especially if they are from a bakery or its been baked by a friend.
The NHS said you should avoid cakes if you’re trying to lower your blood sugar levels and trying to lose weight.
What are ‘good’ food swaps?
But there are some food that can help lower your blood sugar levels.
Dr Roxburgh said that snacks made from wholegrains are a good addition to the diet.
She added: “Potatoes are very high in carbs so aren’t usually counted as one of your 5 a day but if you want to eat potatoes, then new potatoes are better than old potatoes as they contain less starch.”
Dr Roxburgh also suggested keeping alcohol to within 14 units weekly with three or four days off drinking, and avoid alcohol on an empty stomach as this can also lead to hypos.
Dr Newman-Beinart said: “Reishi mushrooms are an important supper food to include in your wellness routine as they include beta-glucans and triterpenoids, which are compounds that can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels, reducing your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.”
You can use Reishi mushrooms in different dishes as it can be purchased as a powder – ideal for any one not a fan of their veggies.