Diet Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes

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Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes occurs when the body either cannot utilize insulin properly or does not make enough. You may be able to control Type 2 diabetes without insulin injections through proper diet, exercise and oral medication. Type 2 generally affects adults, although children who are obese and inactive sometimes develop the disease. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you will want to monitor your blood glucose level daily and choose foods that help maintain blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

Carbohydrates

If you are experiencing low blood sugar, have some fruit or fruit juice. Otherwise, enjoy only small portions of fruit. During digestion your body breaks down carbohydrates faster than fiber or fat, turning them directly into sugar for the body to use as energy. Simple carbs--in fruit and refined sugar--cause a quick rise in blood sugar and energy, but with no lasting value.

Complex carbohydrates, the starches, offer lasting value to the body because they take longer to digest and provide a steady source of energy. Complex carbs are found in nuts, vegetables, whole grains and beans. They also contain valuable amounts of fiber.

Keep track of how many carbohydrates you eat. This will help you spread your intake of complex carbs throughout the day to maintain steady energy and healthy blood sugar levels. Choose your foods carefully: Every meal should contain some carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Healthy sources of carbohydrates are fruit, low-fat milk and yogurt, starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white), whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas, and unrefined rice.

High Fiber, Low Fat

Aim to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is the portion of the plant food that we can't digest. It helps move food through the digestive tract, moves stool through the intestine and gives the stomach a full feeling. Fiber provides vitamins and minerals and helps control blood sugar levels by slowing sugar absorption during digestion. Fiber-rich foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and peas, bran and brown rice.

Opt for a low-fat diet to help keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart disease. Fish has less total fat than chicken or meat--salmon, cod, halibut and tuna are good choices at least twice a week. Use olive oil to cook. Limit butter. Avoid saturated fats found in fried foods, fast food, organ meats and highly processed foods. Bake, broil and grill your lean meats.

Start your day with a low-fat and fiber-rich breakfast: For example, have a spinach omelet make with egg whites, turkey bacon, a bran muffin (plain or with a butter substitute) and a small piece of fruit. For a healthy lunch or dinner, prepare fresh, raw vegetables on a bed of dark-green leaf lettuce, plus grilled chicken or fish. Add a slice of dark, whole-grain bread for more fiber.

Alcohol and Sweets

Regulate your intake of alcohol and sweets, keeping it at a minimum. Like sugar, alcohol feeds the body empty carbohydrates and boosts blood sugar levels excessively, with no nutritional benefit.

Try unsweetened applesauce instead of syrup on French toast. Use low-fat vanilla yogurt instead of syrup on waffles. Mash up bananas in your whole-grain pancake batter and they'll be sweet enough to eat without syrup. Snack on plain popcorn or carrot sticks.

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