The diet for type 2 diabetics can be tasty and varied!
When it comes to diabetes, Romanians are not doing too great – from 2012 to 2021, cases of type 2 diabetes almost doubled. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, increased stress levels and an unbalanced diet are some of the causes of the prevalence of diabetes among the population.
Type 2 diabetes can sound like a life sentence, requiring major dietary restriction to keep it under control. The truth is – you can have a rich and varied diet even if you have type 2 diabetes.
Read our complete guide to a good diet for type 2 diabetics, and find out why the Mediterranean diet can be your faithful ally in keeping diabetes under control.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus is the most common type of diabetes in the world. This chronic condition occurs when our body doesn’t produce enough insulin, leading to high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes occurs not only when the body does not produce enough insulin, but also when cells do not respond properly to insulin (insulin resistance).
If you don’t pay attention to the main symptoms, you can live with type 2 diabetes for years without knowing it. This is dangerous for your health and can lead to many complications.
How can we treat type 2 diabetes?
Many are under the impression that type 2 diabetes can be treated. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this chronic disease. Instead, it can be kept under control with lifestyle changes such as:
- weight loss (for people with a BMI above the recommended average)
- eliminating foods that can raise blood sugar
Foods allowed in type 2 diabetes
Here is a list of foods allowed in type 2 diabetes:
Proteins are essential in our diet, but especially in the diet of those suffering from type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that the digestion of protein is slower than for other foods, and does not cause a sudden rise in blood sugar.
According to a recent study from the United States, the origin of proteins is not as important as previously thought in the management of diabetes. A diet containing red meat had the same effect on weight loss and keeping blood sugar under control as a diet without red meat.
However, high consumption of red meat can cause other long-term problems, such as cardiovascular disease or even cancer. When it comes to meat for type 2 diabetes, we recommend proteins such as:
- white meat – chicken or turkey breast, skinless
- fish meat – salmon, tuna, cod, etc.
Just like protein, whole grains break down slowly in the body and don’t cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. Other carbohydrates such as white bread or pasta will have the opposite effect, increasing blood sugar – instead, opt for foods such as:
- whole grain bread
- wholemeal flour
- whole grains – e.g. wheat cereal, oatmeal
- Brown rice
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be a part of any diet. They have an increased content of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help the digestive system and heart to function properly, and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
On the list of fruits allowed in type 2 diabetes we find foods such as:
- forest fruits
When it comes to vegetables, be careful to avoid starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, peas and lentils. Instead, opt for veggies like:
- green leafy vegetables – spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula
Another ally in the diet for type 2 diabetes is beans. It is a rich source of protein and is very filling. Not only that, but it is also a rich source of iron, potassium and magnesium, three of the main nutrients which you need for the proper functioning of the body.
On the list of foods allowed in type 2 diabetes, we may also find dairy products, as long as you make sure they have a low fat content. You can include cream or low-fat yogurt, skimmed milk or low-fat cheese such as curd in your diet.
Foods prohibited in type 2 diabetes
As you can see, it is possible to live with type 2 diabetes and maintain a healthy, varied diet that you won’t get bored of. However, there are also prohibited foods in type 2 diabetes that you must avoid completely. These are:
- Carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, rice
- Products full of sugar – e.g. Chocolate, cookies, ice cream
- Pastry products – e.g. Pretzels, strudel, doughnuts, puff pastry products
- Commercial snacks – e.g. Chips, popcorn, crackers
- Alcoholic beverages – even in small amounts they can have harmful effects
- Fatty dairy products – e.g. Cream and full-fat milk, processed cheese
- Fatty or processed meat – e.g. Cold meats, sausages, ribs
- Starchy vegetables – e.g. carrots and lentils. These are not necessarily “forbidden”, but should be consumed in moderation and in the context of a balanced diet.
- Varied sauces – Mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce
- Candied fruits
- Fruit yogurts
- Fizzy drinks
Doctors also recommend reduced consumption of salt.
Mediterranean diet – the best diet for type 2 diabetics
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that must be kept under control constantly through an adequate diet. That’s why it’s important to adopt a sustainable diet that you can maintain over a long period of time.
Groups of studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can be a great diet for type 2 diabetics. It is not restrictive, but instead contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats, which are allowed in the diabetic diet of type 2.
Studies have shown that, compared to other low-fat diets, the Mediterranean diet was much better at lowering the levels of glycated hemoglobin, by up to 30-50%.
Also, patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes controlled their blood sugar much better following the Mediterranean diet than following other diets.
Even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes, the Mediterranean diet can help you live a healthier life and protect your body against obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. We recommend, however, that you consult a medical professional before making major changes to your diet.
Through the Dahna nutrition app, you can learn everything you need to know about the Mediterranean diet and how it can help protect your health. Put your heart and health first and download the app today for a menu customized to your body’s needs.