Saturday, 18 January 2014

Food, Glorious Food

Chances are if you’re diabetic that at some stage someone has said to you “Should you be eating that?!” as you reach for a biscuit or some chocolate.  Food and diet in general is obviously one of the most important things to consider when you have diabetes and can cause difficulties for some people who are unsure about what to do for the best.

I remember the first few supermarket trips after I was diagnosed 12 years ago.  As a university student I was faced with the timeless battle of buying the “right” food on a budget.  I think that first trip took me an hour and a half as I poured over food labels, laboriously trying to find the “healthiest” food on each aisle.

In truth that was partly due to still being in a state of shock at being diagnosed, and partly due to not being fully informed about what choices I had regarding food, and how I could use my insulin to manage what I wanted to eat (to a certain extent anyway).

Whilst the picture above is a little tongue in cheek (what about cake with poison for example?), it’s not really far from the truth.  That said, it’s probably wise to make a little distinction between what you can eat and what you should eat.  Perhaps surprisingly the answers to these questions are not really much different whether you’re diabetic or not.

What you “should” eat which is basically a healthy balanced diet which is low in saturated fat and salt and high in fibre and contains lots of fruit and vegetables.  That’s basically what anyone should be eating, regardless of diabetes.  That’s not to say that a sweet or sugary treat is off limits of course, but they should be eaten in moderation rather than making up a part of your daily diet.

So what steps can do to make some improvements to your diet?

Eating a lot of foods that are high in saturated fat can increase your cholesterol which in turn increases your risk of heart disease which is something you obviously want to avoid.  Limiting your saturated fat intake and switching to lower fat spreads or using skimmed milk can help.  The NHS Live Well site has some good information on reducing your fat intake.

It’s also worth taking a look at the Eatwell Plate which gives a good guide on what proportion of your daily food intake should come from which food groups.  You might find that making a few small changes will give you some big benefits.

There are also other resources you can use when reviewing your diet.  Diabetes UK have a guideto healthy eating with diabetes which includes over 250 online recipes.  You can also make an appointment to talk to a dietician via your GP or Diabetes Centre at your local hospital.  They can offer a number of options for you depending on your circumstances.

Finally, you can always talk to other people with diabetes about their experiences, either via this blog, Twitter/Facebook or using one of your local groups.  It’s always good to be able to speak to other people in a similar situation to yourself as sharing tips and frustrations can often be a good way of finding out something new.

You can find us on Twitter at @AndyPeerSupport or @LouPeerSupport or search Facebook for “Diabetes Peer Support Sheffield” or “Essex Diabetes Peer Support”

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