Below are dietary tips endorsed by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. These tips are cited from the clinical practice guidelines of the management of type 2 diabetes1.
1) Have regular meal timings. Do not skip meals or cut down certain foods drastically.
2) A healthy diet should consist of carbohydrate from cereals (preferably whole grain), vegetables, fruits, legumes and low-fat milk.
3) Monitoring of the total daily carbohydrate intake is the primary strategy in controlling sugar level. Total carbohydrate intake should be consistent and evenly distributed throughout the day i.e. 3 main meals with 1 or 2 snacks in between without incurring any excess calorie intake.
4) When it comes to choosing a snack, avoid foods that have high glycemic index as it will cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Some examples of high glycemic index food are donuts, table sugar, candy and cookies.
5) Choose instead a healthy snack that have low glycemic index. Some examples are low-fat yogurt, soy milk and baked beans.
6) Reduce intake of table sugar as over-consumption can contribute to high calorie intake and cause weight gain. Hence, artificial or natural sweeteners are recommended substitutes.
7) Limit intake of foods high in saturated and trans-fat in order to reduce the risk of heart disease.
8) Choose vegetables rather than fruits. Fruits contain natural sugars, hence are usually higher in calories than vegetables. However, you can still eat fruits in moderation as long as the calories do not exceed the recommended amount. For example, you can have one whole guava, one whole green apple, one whole kiwi, one medium-sized apple, one medium-size orange or one slice of pineapple or papaya.
9) Individuals with diabetes are encouraged to test their blood sugar (before and 90 minutes after meal) a variety of foods in order to self-evaluate the effect of different foods; and achieve the better blood sugar control.
The choice of food and how much you consume are extremely important as this will affect your sugar level. Your blood sugar will rise up if you eat more than what you need. Hence, having a good sense of portion control is an important skill.
The Canadian Diabetes Association suggests the following handy portion as your guide.2
Image 1: Portion Guide [Internet]. Canadian Diabetes Association 20192
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) proposes another method called “plate method” to help you to choose different foods and the portion size you should use in planning your meals3.
For example, fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots. Then, in the other smaller sections, fill with whole grain or starchy food, like whole wheat bread, noodles, brown rice, corn or potatoes. Fill the other one quarter section with protein such as, fish, chicken, lean beef, eggs, tofu, or cooked dried beans3. See example in image 2.
Image 2: Eat Well! | Living with Diabetes | Diabetes | CDC [Internet]. Cdc.gov. 20193
Below is a practical example of food choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This example is designed for a person with diabetes, to achieve better blood sugar control.
|Take whole meal or whole wheat instead of white bread Low GI milk formula Oat, millet, cereal are good choices for breakfast Can add with eggs and some fruits e.g green apple, guava, ½ pieces of oranges or red apple||One quarter plate of brown rice Half plate of vegetables. Any vegetables (Two types or more different vegetables) Take some lean protein like eggs, fish, chicken, beef or pork, tofu, mushrooms||Dinner is about the same as lunch by referring to the portion as discussed above in diagram (half plate of vegetables, ¼ of rice and ¼ of protein)|