What you place in your trolley when you have type 2 diabetes can be the difference between good and not-so-good blood sugar control. HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson makes over a reader’s trolley.
HFG reader Dean (38) is a fly-in, fly-out worker in the mines of WA who has recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He also has high blood pressure and has been told by his doctor he needs to lose weight.
Dean’s wife, Karen, does most of the shopping and is worried about what to choose.
“I’ve got three young kids so I’ve been focused on avoiding additives. Now I have to be aware of the carbs, sugars and salt. I don’t know exactly what to look for on the label.”
The good news is Karen loves to cook, so the family eats lots of fresh produce.
“When Dean is home he likes really flavoursome meals and savoury snacks,” she says.
Some of his favourites are stir-fries, curries and creamy pastas. He likes snacking on cheese, ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and salted nuts. But Karen explains, “I think the portion sizes are too big. I’m also finding it hard to come up with healthier recipes for the food he wants to eat and I think having the healthier products there to make them from will make it easier for me,” she says.
“Dean can still enjoy big-flavour meals, it’s just getting the portions right and watching salt intake. A guide is to have meat and pasta or rice serves the size of his fist, and the rest of his plate piled with vegies. Rather than adding lots of sauces, Karen can try fresh herbs, spices, lemon and chilli, to give flavour without the salt.
And instead of Dean’s large portions of fatty, high-kilojoule, salty snacks, he can snack on small handfuls of unsalted nuts or popcorn.
He can also replace his ham and cheese sandwiches for avocado and tomato on toast. This will help him to control his weight, blood sugar and blood pressure, too.
Top tips for eating with diabetes and high blood pressure
Fill a quarter of your plate with low-GI carbohydrates at meal times such as grainy bread, wholegrain cereal or oats, pasta, sweet potato or basmati rice. Half the plate should be vegies and the other quarter lean meat, chicken or fish.
Choose low-GI snacks such as fruit, yoghurt, reduced-fat cheese and wholegrain crackers or unsalted nuts.
Limit salty foods like sauces, stocks, canned vegies, deli meats like ham, cheese and snacks like chips and salted nuts. Go for fresh foods or use small amounts of reduced-salt varieties where you can.
Watch your portions. Eating smaller amounts at main meals and snacks will result in weight loss. This will help to improve blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Choose water instead of sugary drinks and limit alcohol.
Include at least 30 minutes of exercise daily (make sure you’re puffing!).