Diabetes diet: Seven of the best food swaps to lower your chances of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes affects more than 3.9 million people in the UK alone, with most type 2 diagnoses being caused by a poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. A healthy diet is essential to keep everything from your bones to your skin healthy and it can even reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Choosing healthier alternatives to your favourite foods is an easy way to improve your diet – and these are seven of the best food swaps you should make.

Swap ready made for homemade

Preparing meals yourself means that you are completely in control of the contents of your food.

Ready meals and pre-packaged foods can be loaded with added salt (sodium) and sugars, as well as a host of unknown preservatives which could be detrimental to your health.

Time is no excuse when it comes to avoiding preparing your own food, so be prepared with meal plans and meal preparation for the week ahead in order to sustain a fresh and healthy diet right through your working days.

Use fresh fruit and vegetables and whole foods like pulses, whole grains carbohydrates and fresh herbs or spices to keep your meals healthy and your body nourished.

Some top tips for mastering homemade meals include:

  • Cook in bulk – make bulk meals that can be portioned out for the week
  • Prepare your proteins – boil eggs, poach chicken breasts and prepare a pot of mixed beans to have handy for quick meals

Trade refined carbohydrates for wholegrain

Refined grains are the core ingredient of white flour which has been stripped of naturally occurring bran and germ – the healthiest elements of the grain.

Switch white flour foods like bread and oats for whole grain alternatives in order to reap the benefits of fibre, vitamins and essential fatty acids from every part of the grain.

Replace dry carbohydrates with vegetables

Spaghetti, rice and noodles are all staple ingredients in most people’s diet and can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

Switch up your dry carbohydrates with vegetable alternatives like spiralised courgette and cauliflower rice.

Switch minced meat for minced vegetables

Get crafty with your cutting methods when working on a healthier meal plan by replacing minced meat like beef or turkey with finely chopped mushrooms.

This is a great way to get extra vegetables into meals like chilli or bolognese while reducing your intake of fatty, rich meat and eliminating the need for extra oil.

For protein-rich meat alternatives, try 50/50 beans or lentils and minced meat instead of 100 percent meat recipes.

Low sugar swaps

Satisfy your sweet tooth with low sugar snacks like trail mix and fresh fruit or vegetables.

Rice cakes with banana and honey or nut butter are a protein-packed sweet snack, while fresh fruits or frozen fruit smoothies will quench your thirst and your hunger.

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Bake, don’t fry

Deep fried foods are loaded with excess calories and are high in fat due to the oil content and byproducts of high heat cooking.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed when fatty foods are cooked on a super high heat and have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes.

Cook your meals on a low, moist heat for short periods and switch deep fried foods for baked, boiled, roasted, sauteed or grilled versions to avoid consuming excess fat, calories and harmful AGEs.

Choose proper proteins

Protein is renowned for its muscle repairing and energising properties, but be careful where you source this essential food group from.

Processed meats like sausages, ham, bacon, and pre-cooked chicken are all very high in sodium and saturated fats which can contribute to poor cardiovascular health.

Eat more fresh and frozen fish and non-animal proteins like pulses and legumes.

Lentils, beans, tofu, pea-protein, chickpeas and salmon are all good sources of healthy, fibrous proteins.

When it comes to meat and poultry, opt for lean proteins which have reduced fat or are skinless and boil or bake chicken instead of frying it in oil.

Is there an ideal type 2 diabetes diet?

There is no need to eliminate entire food groups like carbohydrates from your diet in order to lead a healthier lifestyle.

If you are living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, there are a few key things to maintain in your diet to keep symptoms to a minimum.

Medically accredited website Everyday Health insists that following a type 2 diabetes diet doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you love, but instead, it should be thought of as more of a balancing act.

Consuming a variety of healthy carbohydrates , proteins and fats is one of the crucial elements of a type 2 diabetes diet.

Choose foods that are naturally rich in nutrients rather than reinforced or processed products.

Nutrient rich foods will help to keep your blood sugar stable to avoid extreme swings which could cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches and mood changes – known as hypoglycaemia.

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