Nutrition Tips for People with Diabetes

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Diabetes nutrition tips from Singapore General Hospital

“It is important that you understand how different foods affect your blood glucose levels, especially carbohydrates, since it is the nutrient that has the greatest effect on your blood glucose levels,” says Ms Kala Adaikan, Senior Principal Dietitian, at the Department of Dietetics, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Related article: What is prediabetes and are you at risk?

Different foods affect blood glucose levels differently

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates give you energy and should not be avoided. They should be included as part of a healthy eating plan. For optimal diabetes control, one must recognise that quantity and quality of carbohydrates are to be considered. The more refined the carbohydrate, such as sugar, the faster the glucose is released into your blood stream. This can cause a surge in blood glucose levels, resulting in unstable blood glucose profiles.

Choose starchy carbohydrates

Starches release glucose into the blood stream at a slower rate compared to sugars, thus providing more stable and sustainable energy levels. This not only results in better blood glucose profiles, it is also better for appetite control. Examples of starchy carbohydrates include rice, noodles, pasta, cereals and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.

Related article: How to keep track of your carbohydrate intake.

Fibre

Increasing fibre intake is known to slow carbohydrate digestion and glucose absorption, leading to better blood glucose control. Make simple changes by switching to brown rice, wholewheat noodles and pasta, wholegrain breads and oats.

Fat

Fat slows the digestion of carbohydrate in a meal, keeping blood glucose levels elevated for longer and making it difficult to keep your blood glucose levels within the desirable range. Fat is also very calorie-dense. So reduce your fat intake!

Related article: Tips to reduce/maintain your weight for better blood sugar control

Protein

It is also important to pay attention to protein foods like chicken and fish that do not contain carbohydrates, hence will not raise your blood glucose levels. Some foods contain a combination of protein and carbohydrates. These include milk and dairy products and plant-based protein foods such as beans, dhal and lentils. These should be accounted for as part of your carbohydrate intake and allowance.

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