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Healthy eating and diabetes

Apr 11, 2023


Author: Brina Gervais

Digging into food that helps you meet your wellness goals

Diets versus dieting

If you want to eat healthy, we need to talk about the d-word: diets. You’ve probably heard that most diets fail. And it’s true: they do. When dieters take on rigid, uprooting changes to what they eat, roughly 80% struggle to maintain whatever weight they lose.

And dieters can’t be blamed. Psychological researchers increasingly see willpower as a myth. And navigating grocery stores, which are ever more packed with processed foods, requires a more educated understanding of nutrition than ever before.

That’s dieting for you: biting off more than you can chew. But then there’s diets: the simple summary of what you usually eat. You’ve been on a diet your entire life, it just doesn’t have a catchy name. Getting to know more about what you already eat can help you learn if the foods in your diet are helping or hindering your wellness goals.

If you’re living with type 2 diabetes, or are prediabetic, your diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels, heart health, and weight — all factors that can help you in your fight against diabetes.

You don’t need to change everything about what you eat. But you may want to modify what you usually eat to align your diet more closely with your wellness goals.

When making changes to your diet, take into consideration:

  • Your tastes.
  • Your medications.
  • Your amount of exercise.

A registered dietitian can give you more specific advice, so use this article as a starting point to learn more about the basics.

A range of whole foods
A range of whole foods


Why does healthy eating matter?

Everyone can benefit from eating nourishing foods in the right portions. If you’re living with type 2 diabetes, healthy foods can also help you manage your diabetes.

When you provide your body with more fuel than it requires, your blood ends up with more sugar than it needs. This condition is called hyperglycemia, and over time, it can lead to nerve, kidney, and heart damage.

Eating healthy foods can help you keep your blood sugar levels in a safer range. And healthier foods, eaten in the right portions, can help you maintain a healthy weight — another factor that helps keep blood sugar levels stable.


What does healthy eating look like?

A healthy diet can look the same for someone living with or without type 2 diabetes. It should include whole foods (foods that aren’t processed), fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates in moderate amounts, lean proteins, healthy fats, and limited sugars and refined grains.

For people living with diabetes, high blood sugar levels can affect your heart by damaging, clogging, or hardening arteries. Because of this, foods containing the following can work against your wellness goals:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium

Fast foods and processed foods often contain the highest amounts of these substances, which can accelerate heart problems. By recreating menu items or ready-to-eat meals at home, you can still enjoy these dishes while having more control over what goes into them.

To help your blood sugar levels stay stable and within a safer range, also keep your meals portioned and eat them during consistent mealtimes.


Healthy eating really is a lifestyle

If 80% of diets fail because they’re too rigid, then make changes that you want to keep for the rest of your life.

Start gradual, remain flexible, and adopt a growth mindset that’s kind to yourself during challenging times and setbacks. Progress is normally not linear: What’s important is your ability to get back on track and truly want the changes you’re making.

By working with your health care providers, you can create a balanced meal plan that meets your wellness and happiness goals. Why not have your cake and eat it too, after all? (Even if in smaller portions, occasionally, or with whole wheat flour.)

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