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Diet for type 2 diabetes

In its early stages or with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a healthier diet and regular exercise. A healthy, balanced diet is a powerful tool for managing type 2 diabetes. It can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control and improve your overall health and well-being. 
 
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

Making healthier food choices

Eating healthy when you have diabetes can be difficult, especially when it seems easier just to choose something convenient or to have what everyone else is having. But eating well means learning to make healthy choices for you – regardless of where you are or who you are with. 
 
A nutritious menu doesn't have to cost more or take longer to prepare. Your diabetes care team can help you create a healthy meal plan that fits with your daily routines.

Important tips for type 2 diabetes

Eat a variety of foods in the right amounts

Eat regularly

Balance the amount you eat

against your physical activity and your medication (if you take any)

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.

Infographic displaying different types of food and what to swap them with for a better diet as a diabetic.

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 sugar 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 sugar levels quickly

Complex carbohydrates

  • Include potatoes, brown bread, pulses and oats
  • Contain more fibre and take longer for the body to absorb
  • Raise blood sugar 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 type 2 diabetes

In addition to your food choices, you should also be mindful of the alcohol that you drink. People with type 2 diabetes can still enjoy alcohol, but be aware that it can have unpredictable effects on your blood sugar levels. The sugar in alcoholic drinks causes a sharp rise in blood sugar. At the same time, when combined with diabetes medications, alcohol can also cause hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar. A sensible rule is to always drink in moderation and never on an empty stomach. 

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