Eating & Exercise
Eating well is an important part of staying healthy with diabetes. Did you know that losing 5%-10% of your current weight can greatly improve your blood sugar if you have Prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes? Weight loss should be sensible and slow.
Eating shouldn’t be complicated. There are no “bad” foods, just foods that raise blood sugars more than others. If your eating plan includes lots of fresh vegetables, mostly whole grains, plant proteins like beans and legumes, some healthy fats, and foods with little added salt, then you are on the right track!
Here are the top five tips from our Dietitians.
- Stop drinking sweetened drinks like pop, fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin waters, fruit punch, iced tea, and hot chocolate. Drink water most of the time.
- Eat breakfast, lunch and supper every day.
- Eat three to four food groups at each meal. Click HERE to get a copy of Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
- Eat less dessert, fast food and junk food. Eat more fruits and vegetables instead.
- Choose plant based proteins – beans, legumes, lentils – more often. Limit red meat and processed meats like sausage, bacon and deli meats.
Click HERE to visit Diabetes Canada website and learn more about healthy eating.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to have a special diet that's different from the rest of my family?
No, there is no “Diabetes Diet”, just a healthy meal plan that is good for the whole family. Canada’s Food Guide, the Mediterranean Diet, DASH diet or Vegetarian diets are all healthy examples.
Do I have to stop eating my favourite foods like bread, potatoes and pasta?
No – these foods are commonly known to people as “starches” but they are better known as carbohydrates, or “carbs”. You will commonly hear about “good” carbs and “bad” carbs. All carbs break down into glucose or sugar in the blood to give our muscles energy. Some break down faster than others and are harder for our body to handle all at once.
Think of carbs as “gasoline” that keeps you going – we need some but not a whole lot at one time. Spread them out over the day in smaller amounts.
My sister says I can't eat dessert ever again - is she right?
Yes, you can have dessert! Just not at every meal. It’s a “sometimes” food, not an “every day” food. Check with your dietitian about what foods can be eaten and how often.
If I just stop eating sugar, will that fix the problem?
Avoiding eating simple sugars like white sugar, honey, molasses, and maple syrup, can help control your blood sugars, but it will not “fix” your diabetes. Eating these sweeteners did not cause your diabetes. Cutting down on them will help you develop a taste for less sweet things and choose more nutrient rich foods more often.
I'm only going to eat protein and fat, no carbs, and then my blood sugar will be perfect won't it?
Any diet that gets rid of one or more food groups is not nutritionally balanced. This might be a fad diet! Some people follow diets like this, and can do fine for a few months, but often the lack of variety of food makes it difficult to continue. You will do best on a plan that you can follow long term, that provides a variety of food and nutrients, and that the whole family can follow.
I've heard that supplements like cinnamon will control my blood sugar. Can I take this instead of metformin?
Many of these supplements are not well studied for diabetes and there is little information that tells us how well they work. Plus some of them can be quite expensive. Always discuss any supplements, herbals and alternative therapies with your diabetes educator or health care provider. Some can be tried safely, but others may interact with other medications that you are taking.
Both aerobic exercise (the kind that makes your heart beat faster) and resistance exercise (the kind that builds muscles) can keep you healthy with diabetes. Exercise can help with blood sugar control, muscle strength, blood pressure – and lower body fat, triglycerides and your risk for heart disease. Plus, exercise makes you feel good!
If you have Type 1 diabetes or are on insulin, talk to your diabetes educator about ways to adjust your insulin doses or food intake before or after exercise.
For a great video and brochures on getting started with gentle exercise, click HERE.
Questions? Book your appointment with a Dietitian from Diabetes Grey Bruce today!