A selection of frequently asked questions from people with diabetes:
Do I have to follow a special diet?
No. The dietary recommendations for diabetes are the same healthy eating guidelines that most people should be following.
Can I eat bananas?
Yes. Although all fruits (including bananas) contain some sugar, it is not enough to cause large rises in blood glucose. Most people with diabetes should be aiming to eat some fresh fruit every day. Five servings of fruit and vegetables every day are important in maintaining health.
What about the sugar in carrots/corn/beetroot? Should I avoid these vegetables?
There is a little sugar in these and other root vegetables, but in normal-sized helpings they are unlikely to cause any problems. Most people need to eat more vegetables and eating a good variety is encouraged.
Should I cut out red meat?
No. Red meats such as lean beef, lamb, mutton, and pork, are good sources of B vitamins and iron, and so can be an important part of eating healthily. If red meats are trimmed of visible fat and eaten in moderate quantities they can be no higher in fat than chicken.
Are bread and potatoes really fattening?
No. Low-fat starchy carbohydrate foods like these, as well as rice and pasta, are perfectly good foods to eat. It’s the fat or oil that’s often added to them that makes them fattening.
Can I eat ‘diabetic’ chocolate?
Foods marketed as ‘suitable for diabetics’ are unnecessary and expensive. They may not contain sugar but are often high in fat and calories. Eating a little ordinary chocolate occasionally can often be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.
Is it okay to drink ordinary beer?
Yes. In moderation most alcoholic drinks are okay. Low-sugar lagers are often higher in alcohol than regular ones so are not recommended.
I’m following a sugar-free diet, why is my blood glucose still high?
It is not necessary or possible to have a sugar-free diet. Small amounts of sugar don’t raise blood glucose any higher than other carbohydrate foods. If blood glucose is high, the whole diet needs to be looked at in case calorie intake is too high or the distribution may not be appropriate. Other factors such as medication and exercise levels obviously need to be taken into account too.
Is it okay for me to eat low-fat foods?
Some are, but it’s worth checking packaging labels. Some foods that are low in fat contain more sugar than the regular versions.
I don’t need to lose weight so why do I need to exercise?
Apart from all the other health benefits of exercise, regular exercise lowers blood glucose. This effect on blood glucose can last for up to 48 hours after a bout of exercise (even after a 30 minute brisk walk) so some regular physical activity needs to be built in on at least 5 days of each week.