Healthy Eating for Healthy Living

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Healthy Eating for Healthy Living

Mahwish Shiraz.
Senior Clinical Dietitian.

Healthy eating is an integral component in the management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as anyone else. The difference is that a diabetic person must have nutrition in measured amounts at regular, evenly spaced meals and snack times, and in balance with physical activity. For someone with diabetes, food is even more important as a tool for controlling diabetes- the key to a full and abundant life.

The international bodies emphasize that one should focus on overall eating patterns and personal preference, rather than any particular dietary prescription. Despite all the publicity surrounding new research and nutrition guidelines, many people with diabetes still believe that there is something called a “diabetic diet”.

The food is made up of three main components- carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In addition to these, one also needs vitamins and minerals. Collectively, these substances are called “nutrients” and they are all essential for a ‘balanced diet’.  Obviously nutrition as part of an overall diabetes treatment plan is not an entirely do-it-yourself project. That’s why the pre-printed diet plans don’t work any longer. One need to work with a dietitian to determine whether their diet is balanced or not and which meal plan is best according to individualized needs. To simplify and translate these nutrient things into everyday eating one can distribute these nutrients in five different food groups, namely, starchy foods, fruits, vegetables, protein foods, milk and dairy products and fatty and sugary foods which are mentioned in food guide pyramid. Foods that provide similar types of nutrients are grouped together. Foods within these groups can be exchanged in order to get variety.

Some tips for healthy eating plan are;

Healthful Carb Sources: Eat at least as much fiber and whole grains as are recommended for the general public. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help you get the daily fiber (25 grams for women, 38 grams for men) and whole-grain servings (about three) suggested for good health.

Weight Loss:  There is no single ideal weight-loss diet, but what does work is “portion control and finding an eating pattern you can follow.” For weight loss, eating less and burning more calories through exercise are most effective. Energy balance is key; the calories we take in should not be more than we burn, or extra calories will build up.

Supplements: Use food to get the vitamins and minerals you need instead of spending extra on supplements or herbal products. We have no proof that dietary supplements help to manage diabetes, either. Vitamins and minerals are necessary but are better when eaten in actual food.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Limit or avoid sugary beverages to reduce the risk of weight gain and worsening of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  

Fat: When  eating fatty foods, eat the healthful kind in small amounts.

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