For people living with diabetes or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet is a key part of managing blood glucose levels (BGL’s).
While factors such as genetics, stress, certain medications and body weight can increase BGLs, the food we eat plays a critical role in managing BGL’s on a day to day basis. Some foods, particularly those that are high in energy and added sugar such as, cakes, lollies, pastries and potato crisps can cause your BGL’s to rise above your recommended targets.
Making healthier food choices can help with managing BGL’s. These foods are generally high in fibre, include lean protein and have a low Glycaemic Index (GI) value, meaning that they are slowly digested and absorbed by the body, resulting in a lower and slower rise in overall BGL.
Here are some foods that may help improve your BGL’s:
Oats and Oat Bran
Oats are a great choice as they are full of soluble fibre, are digested slowly and they have a low GI value. Including more oats in your diet may help stabilise your BGL’s and keep hunger at bay for longer. We recommend: Half a cup of porridge for breakfast or adding ½ cup of oats to a smoothie.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in protein, fibre and are a healthy source of fat – a health trifecta that helps your body manage its glycaemic response and regulation of BGL’s after eating a meal or snack. Take your pick of nuts – almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, peanuts are all great as snacks or as eaten as nut butter. However, don’t forget to include seeds in your diet too – particularly chia, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Remember to keep an eye on portion sizes as nuts are high in energy and can make weight management harder if you are trying to shift some kilograms. We recommend: Sprinkle a small handful of crushed nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds on a soup or salad.
Fish and Seafood
Lean protein is essential for good blood glucose management. Fish and most types of seafood are an excellent source of healthy-fats and protein, which helps slow digestion and prevent spikes in BGL’s after a meal. Fish also contains valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We recommend: Including oily fish such as 150g salmon or sardines which are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids (the good stuff) 2-3 times per week.
Dairy foods, particularly reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt are a great option to include into your daily regimen. These foods are not only rich in calcium and protein but also low in GI therefore keeping you fuller for longer whilst keeping you BGL’s within optimal levels. We recommend: Enjoy a tub of yoghurt or a few slices of low-fat cheese on 2-4 crispbreads for a quick and satisfying snack
Beans, Pulses and Lentils
Beans, pulses and lentils are packed full of nutrients and can assist in lowering BGL’s. They’re a great low-GI source of protein, soluble fibre and resistant starch, which can help slow digestion, help you feel full for longer and may improve blood glucose response after meals. We recommend: bulk out a curry or slow cooker meal with chickpeas or lentils.
Most fruits have a low GI value. They are bursting with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and make an excellent choice for managing BGL’s. Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes and kiwifruit are some of the many low GI fruits and contain high levels of soluble fibre. Berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries contain fewer carbohydrates compared to other fruits, therefore, have less of an effect on BGL’s. A serving of fruit is equal to a fist-size (e.g. orange), 1 cup (e.g. grapes) or 2 small pieces (e.g. kiwi fruit). We recommend: grab an apple to eat on the run or add berries to porridge or smoothies.
For people living with or at risk of developing diabetes, including a high amount of fibre in your diet is essential managing your blood glucose management – it slows digestion, helps stabilise BGL’s and assists with weight management. Vegetables are full of fibre and making sure your diet is jam packed with these goodies from the garden can help you eat the right amount. Green, non-starchy varieties like spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, okra, and green beans are great choices but be sure to include a variety of colours and types like pumpkin and mushrooms too. We recommend: Adding roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots to your salads.