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balanced dietDiet is an important component of Diabetes management to keep the blood sugar within normal levels or to improve long term blood sugar control. Achieving good blood sugar control will help prevent or delay long term complications such as Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, Neuropathy (problem with the nerves) and Retinopathy (blurring of vision due to damage in small blood vessels in the eye).

For Pre-diabetic Individuals

The initial intervention for pre-diabetic individuals is a Balanced Diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and high-fiber foods. Regular physical activity of at least 30 minutes per day can help improve the body’s response to insulin and help in weight loss for overweight or obese individuals. Weight reduction may help reduce risk factors that contribute to the progression of Diabetes and its other complications.

For Diabetic Individuals

In addition to the initial intervention of having a balanced diet and regular physical activity, Diabetic individuals will also be treated with antidiabetic medications to support their blood glucose control. For individuals on insulin therapy, carbohydrate counting, or the timing of food intake must be aligned with the schedule of administering insulin to prevent hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels that manifest with dizziness, blurring of vision, tremors and rapid heartbeat. Consult a Registered Nutritionist Dietitian to get a personalized diet prescription for your specific medications.

General Nutrition Advice to All Prediabetic and Diabetic Individuals

1. Always have a balanced and varied diet. Try to have at least 1 serving of protein, preferred carbohydrate (rice, pasta or bread), vegetable and fruit at every meal.

2. Choose whole foods rather than processed foods.  Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and proteins that contain greater amounts of nutrients and fiber that slow down the release of sugars into the blood as compared to processed foods that are easily digestible and may raise blood sugar fast.

3. Choose high fiber foods such as vegetables and whole grain food. 

• For breakfast try whole rolled oats instead of instant oatmeal
• Try brown rice or red rice instead of white rice
• Choose long grain rice instead of short grain
• Try whole wheat bread instead of white bread

4. Choose milks with lower carbohydrate content.

• Choose “unsweetened” soymilk or almond milk instead of full cream milk
• Try special adult milk formulas made for Diabetic individuals

5. Try non-caloric sweeteners as substitute for table sugar when trying to sweeten drinks or desserts

• Safe non-caloric sweeteners include Stevia, Sucralose and Erythritol
• Other healthy caloric sugars include brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup and monk fruit.

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References:

• Crowley, K. & Martin, K.A. editors (2021). Patient education: DIabetes and diet (The Basics). UpToDate. Date Accessed 23 November 2021. Retrieved from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diabetes-and-diet-the-basics?search=diabetes%20patient%20education&usage_type=default&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&display_rank=1

• Raymond, J. L., & Morrow, K. (2020). Krause and Mahan’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.