Diet & Type 1 Diabetes

Is There A Diet I Should Follow?

You may find that when you start taking insulin for diabetes, you begin to gain weight. This is normal and can be combated by making sure you eat healthily and take plenty of exercise. The goals for staying healthy when treating your diabetes are:

  • Maintain a steady blood glucose concentration – this helps to prevent any further complications. Combining your diet and exercise regimen with your insulin treatment is vital.
  • Keep your cholesterol levels as low as possible. Try to decrease the amount of fat you eat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Make sure you attend all your monitoring clinic appointments. This will help you to keep a check on your diabetes.

When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you will be given an appointment to meet a dietician to plan a diet that can help keep you as healthy as possible. This will be tailored to your needs and exercise level. A general outline of the amounts of various types of foods you should be eating is:

  • 50-55% Carbohydrates. These should be in the unrefined form and preferably low GI instead of simple sugars such as glucose. This prevents large swings in blood sugar levels, releasing energy constantly instead of all at once. Foods such as vegetables, fruits and wholegrains are recommended.
  • 30% Fat. This should be in the form of low fat spreads, fish oils such as omega 3 and nuts. It is essential that you lower your intake of saturated fats such as those in red meat to around 5% of your daily intake. If possible you should try to cut out hydrogenated fats from your diet (these are contained within fried and snack foods)
  • 15-20% Protein.  Protein is required to help rebuild your cells, the best sources are fish, soy and poultry. It is vital that you try to limit your consumption of red and processed meats, as they usually contain high levels of fat. This can help to decrease your chances of developing cardiovascular (heart) disease.

Your weight when you are first diagnosed with diabetes will determine what type of diet you will be given. If you are overweight, it is likely your dietician will want to help you lose some weight to help reduce your risk of developing major complications. To do this, you will be given a diet of around 1000-1600 calories a day. If you have managed to maintain a healthy weight, the dietician will give you a diet that is isocaloric, which means ‘same calories’. This will help you to keep your weight constant. Sometimes type 1 diabetes can cause you to lose weight, if this is the case, you will be given a diet that allows you to steadily put weight on.

When talking to your dietician, it is important that you get across your lifestyle and current exercise level. This will help you get a diet that you will be able to stick to. Your alcohol intake should be monitored, not cut out, as large intakes of alcohol can lead to attacks of hypoglycaemia.

It is vitally important that you stick to both your diet plan and insulin regimen as failure to do so can lead to life threatening complications.

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