The Balanced Way to Manage Your Diabetes
Articles by Anne-Marie Gagné PDt, Dietitian/Nutritionist for Gordon Food Service, main food supplier of Le Groupe Maurice.
In Quebec, 830,000 people live with diabetes and nearly 250,000 do not know it. Worrying statistics show that these numbers are increasing.
Type 2 diabetes, where the cells in the pancreas don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin produced isn’t doing its job properly, accounts for 90% of diabetes cases worldwide. This illness doubles or triples the risk of heart attack or stroke. Another concerning statistic is that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 65 and older, all of which leads to one conclusion: Diabetes must be managed. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, the method used to manage type 2 diabetes is often wrong.
When most people are diagnosed, they immediately think about reducing their sugar intake. They believe that being diabetic means cutting out dessert and candy. Some people even doubt their diagnosis: They never eat sugar, so how can they be sick? However, little do these diabetics know that managing diabetes involves much more than cutting back on the amount of cake they eat after a meal. Managing diabetes is a science: the science of balanced eating.
Diabetes: How to manager your alimentation
First, they need to know that sugar is just one of many types of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, which are a kind of macronutrient, are a large group, and it’s carbohydrates that cause diabetics to have high blood sugar, otherwise known as hyperglycemia. Therefore, many foods other than sugar can cause hyperglycemia. The following are the four main groups of carbohydrates and the foods that are associated with them. These foods do not need to be cut out, but should be eaten proportionately throughout the day in order to prevent eating a meal made up of only carbohydrates and another meal without any carbohydrates.
Group Sugar and desserts
Type of carbohydrates: Sucrose
Foods: Muffins, cakes, pies, candy, pudding, gelatin (Jell-O), maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, white sugar and molasses
Group Complex carbohydrates
Type of carbohydrates: Starch
Foods: Bread, bagels, pasta, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, couscous, crackers and corn
Type of carbohydrates: Fructose
Foods: Apples, pears, bananas, etc., frozen fruit, canned or jarred fruit, fruit purée and juice
Group Dairy products
Type of carbohydrates: Lactose
Foods: Milk, soy milk and yogurt
Second, it is important to understand that two other nutrients play a critical role in managing diabetes: fibre and protein. Both of them slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Also, soluble fibre is particularly effective at maintaining blood sugar levels. It can be found in oatmeal, sweet potatoes, turnips, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, pears and several other fruits and vegetables. The key is to have one source of protein and one source of fibre, ideally soluble fibre, with each meal, for example, rosemary chicken with cream sauce, brown rice and asparagus.
Lastly, the distribution of carbohydrates also plays an essential role in managing diabetes. You simply want to avoid having a lunch that is high in carbohydrates and low in fibre and protein (i.e., spaghetti with garlic bread), and a dinner low in carbohydrates and high in fibre and protein (i.e., chicken Caesar salad). This type of carbohydrate imbalance leads to significant variations in blood sugar levels, potentially causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can be very dangerous for diabetics.
The science is in balancing each meal: a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fibre.
To learn more about Gordon Food Service, visit their website.