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Healthy Eating

Why is eating healthily so important?

  •  Eating healthily will help to keep your body in tip top shape and boost energy levels, as well as helping you to manage your
    • weight
    • blood glucose
    • cholesterol
    • blood pressure
  • A healthy balanced diet is important for everyone

Whether you're looking to make a complete lifestyle change, or just searching for some healthy meal ideas, you'll find useful information and resources in this section.

"I remember when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes - I didn't know how I was going to navigate that table."

-Phyllisa Deroze

What should I be eating?

A balanced meal for all the family should include:

  • Starchy carbohydrates - also known as complex carbohydrates. These are high fibre, slow release (low glycaemic index), wholegrain versions of carbohydrate foods e.g.
    • wholegrain bread
    • wholegrain or basmati rice
    • wholegrain pasta
    • potato with skin
    • porridge oats
    • unsweetened muesli
    • other high fibre wholegrain cereals
  • Lean protein e.g.
    • lean red meat
    • chicken or other poultry with the skin removed
    • eat oily fish twice a week
    • beans, peas, lentils
    • low fat cheese
    • low fat milk
    • eggs
    • vegetarian protein such as tofu or quorn
  • Vegetables, salad or fruit e.g.
    • carrots, onions, mushrooms, peppers, cabbage, turnip, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, aubergine, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, leeks, brussels sprouts, asparagus
    • Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, kiwis, grapefruit, mango, blueberries .... the list is endless!

What about between meals?

  • Fruit and yoghurts are great if you feel hungry and need to snack between your meals or to eat after meals instead of biscuits or desserts – they’re low in fat, contain lots of vitamins and minerals and help you to meet the recommendation of ‘5 a-day’ for fruit and vegetables and ‘3-a-day’ for dairy
  • Chocolate, cakes, sugary foods, biscuits and fatty fried foods like takeaways are not healthy foods to eat every day and should be kept as occasional treats
  • Artificial sweeteners can be used as an alternative to sugar

Simple swaps and diet changes

Diet changes do not necessarily have to mean saying goodbye to all of your favourite foods. Small changes can make a big difference to your diet. For instance, you can change the way food is prepared. Here are six simple food swaps that can make your meal instantly healthier.

Carbohydrates matter

Another part of making healthier food choices is being aware of the carbohydrates in food. It is important to read the labels on foods so you know their carbohydrate content. Glucose is a carbohydrate, so the amount and type of carbohydrate you consume may affect your blood glucose levels, as well the dosage of insulin you need if you are on insulin treatment.

 Simple carbohydrates 

  • Include fruit, honey, white bread and dairy
  • Give food a sweet taste
  • Raise blood glucose levels quickly

Complex carbohydrates

  • Include potatoes, brown bread, pulses and oats
  • Contain more fibre and take longer for the body to absorb
  • Raise blood glucose levels more slowly

 Keeping track of your carbohydrate intake – also known as 'counting carbs' – can be complicated, but there are lots of tools, apps and online references available to help you get started. 

"What if we started thinking of food as fuel?"

-Shelby Kinnaird

Alcohol and diabetes

If you drink alcohol it is important to drink sensible amounts. The maximum recommended intake for alcohol is the same for people with diabetes as those without diabetes.

Maximum recommended intake spread throughout the week

Men = 17 standard units per week
Women = 11 standards units per week

A standard drink is:

1 small glass of wine (100mls)
1 pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
Half a pint of larger beer or stout (284ml)

Important points

  • Drinks should be spaced out, with at least 2-3 alcohol-free days, and never saved up to drink on one occasion
  • Use a sugar free mixer
  • Alcohol is high in calories. If you want to lose weight reduce your intake of alcohol. One standard drink contains 100-150 calories and 10g of pure alcohol
  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach

If you take insulin or glucose lowering tablets called sulphonylureas (ask your pharmacist) it is particularly important that you:

  • Always have a carbohydrate snack before bed after consuming alcohol to decrease the risk of night time hypos
  • Carry Diabetes ID and hypo treatment with you

Alcohol consumption will decrease your awareness of the signs of hypos

For more information on safe alcohol consumption, visit HSE.ie.

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