What’s the best dietary approach for Diabetes management?
Keto, paleo, low carb, low glycaemic index (GI), vegetarian, Mediterranean… if you search for dietary approaches to manage blood sugar levels or diabetes you will probably end up rather confused about the best approach to take.
This is because what will work for one person may not work for someone else. Things that impact how suitable a diet is for a person includes:
- Type of diabetes: type 1, type 2, pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes
- Progression of condition: newly diagnosed, managed through lifestyle along, taking medications, requiring insulin
- Physical activity level (amount of exercise, active or sedentary job)
- Cooking skills and label reading competence
- Accessibility to foods and food budget
- Social, cultural, religious factors
- Taste preferences of self and others sharing the meal
Generally, choosing low GI carbohydrates is a helpful start as these foods cause a more gradual and steady increase in your blood sugar levels compared with high GI foods which cause a rapid increase. Additionally, spreading intake of carbohydrate rich foods over the day helps to keep blood sugar levels more stable. A lower carbohydrate diet can help some people to better manage their diabetes. If you are keen to try a low carbohydrate diet seek advice through an Accredited Practising Dietitian for the most evidenced based approach.
At the end of the day there are many different dietary approaches to manage your diabetes and the one that is likely to improve your health is the one that you can sustain long-term. A dietary approach that is overly restrictive or that does not fit in well with your lifestyle will likely not be maintained for long!
By Phoebe Starling, Accredited Practising Dietitian