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What can I eat if I have type 1 diabetes?

Health • by Paul de Beyer • 26 November 2019
Having diabetes can impact every facet of your life. Whether you’re the person suffering from it or a family member, the consequences reach far and wide. They hit home hardest around the dining table, as both the person suffering from the disease and their loved ones try to get to grips with the disease and its quirks.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. This is a result of your pancreas not creating enough insulin, a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy.

It causes your blood sugar to be too high, which can cause the following issues:

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, it’s a chronic, autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack the pancreas and stop it from creating insulin.

Sadly, there’s no current cure for type 1 diabetes. You can live quite comfortably with it, as the treatment aims to help manage blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle changes.

Why does it matter what I eat and when I eat it?

Because the body does not allow the pancreas to make insulin, it cannot regulate its own blood sugar levels. This makes what you eat, and when you eat, very important.

Meal timing and keeping to a routine is one of the best ways to regulate your blood sugar. When you eat, your body is flooded with “food”, which in turn becomes energy. If you keep a strict eating schedule, with the help of insulin, you can control your blood sugar levels and avoid the dangerous high and low spikes.

The best part of today’s modern insulin regimen is that you can eat almost anything. A healthy, balanced diet that helps you maintain a healthy weight, controls blood fats and blood pressure can reduce the risks of diabetes-related complications like heart disease and stroke.

Foods to eat more of

Replace regular food staples with healthier alternatives such as:

  1. Brown rice
  2. Whole wheat products
  3. Quinoa and other whole grains
  4. Oats
  5. Fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, sweet potato and tomatoes, etc.
  6. Beans (otherwise known as legumes) and lentils
  7. Fat-free yoghurt and milk products
  8. Omega-3 rich fatty acid fish like salmon
    Complex carbohydrates are key to regulating your blood sugar, as they come packed with energy.

Foods to Avoid

Unfortunately, most of the “yummy” things in life are not very good for us. This holds especially true for diabetics. Processed foods high in sugar, fat and salt are exactly the type of things you need to avoid. They overload the system before dropping away to nothing, causing potentially dangerous spikes in your blood sugar levels.

Try to avoid:

  1. All types of soft drinks, including energy drinks and flavoured water
  2. Breads, pasta and chips
  3. Takeaway foods, especially deep-fried foods like French fries
  4. Fruit-flavoured yoghurt, which is generally highly sweetened
  5. Sweetened breakfast cereals
  6. Flavoured coffee
  7. Sweeteners like honey and golden/maple syrup
  8. Dried fruit, as the drying process concentrates the sugar levels
  9. Packaged snack foods
  10. Fruit juice
  11. High-fat animal products with potentially high trans-fat levels like bacon and beef mince, as well as full-fat dairy products like milk, butter and cream.

Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing disease. Try to see those life changes as steps to a healthier you. However, 

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