Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Type 2 Diabetes

When consumed, nearly all carbohydrates convert into glucose, including not only simple sugars but also complex starches. It is not necessary for food to have a sweet taste to cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.

Using a meter can assist in determining which foods are suitable for your body and which are not. It is recommended to test your blood sugar levels before and two hours after consuming the first bite. If your levels increase by more than 2.0 mmol/l, it indicates that the meal contained more carbohydrates than your body could handle. As a type 2 diabetic, it is convenient to remember this guideline as all 2’s are scattered throughout.

If you were not aware, it’s important to know that this is not something you can take responsibility for. The cause could be due to genetics, medication, years of misguided dietary recommendations, and a variety of other factors, but none of which can be attributed to your actions.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that tends to worsen over time unless accompanied by dietary modifications. Fortunately, there are several choices available to you. You can rely solely on diet changes, a combination of dietary changes and medication, or solely on medication. However, selecting the last alternative is expected to result in increased medication use over time. Moreover, if you’re not a fan of metformin, don’t worry; there are plenty of other medications to choose from. Therefore, even if you’re not prepared to adopt a very low-carb diet, you could consider a moderately low-carb diet with medication support.

Are you carrying excess weight? According to statistics, 90% of T2 diabetics are overweight. However, there is a small percentage of individuals who have always been slim and still develop this metabolic condition. Weight gain often serves as a precursor to T2 diabetes, as the body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces. Normally, insulin would help us burn the glucose from the carbohydrates we eat, but in this case, the glucose is stored in fat cells. When these fat stores become full, glucose overflows into our bloodstream, leading to symptoms of T2 diabetes such as excessive urination and eye, tear, saliva issues. Therefore, weight gain is a symptom rather than a cause of T2 diabetes, which means that traditional dietary advice may not be effective for those with this condition. Instead, a low-carb diet is recommended to help manage the body’s inability to process carbohydrates.

There are three main macro-nutrients that provide us with the energy we need: fats, protein, and carbohydrates. These macros also help us obtain the micro-nutrients we require, such as vitamins and minerals. If you reduce your carb intake, you should increase another macro-nutrient to compensate to avoid malnourishment or vitamin deficiencies. Carbs raise our blood sugar levels, but protein does so to a lesser extent, making it acceptable in moderation. However, fats are particularly beneficial because they prevent blood sugar spikes by slowing down the absorption of any carbs we consume. Despite what we’ve been taught for years, fats are actually beneficial to us.

Concerned about your cholesterol levels? When following a low carb diet, it is possible for your cholesterol levels to increase slightly when you begin to lose weight. However, this is actually a positive sign, as it indicates that the cholesterol stored in your body is being released into your bloodstream to be eliminated. As you continue to lose weight and stabilize, your cholesterol levels will also stabilize and will likely be lower than before you started the diet.

Going on a low carb diet can help you lose weight and this weight loss can improve your insulin-resistance. Additionally, a low carb diet may have benefits for other conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and depression.

Make sure to ask for your test results. It’s hard to know what steps to take next if you don’t have a clear understanding of your current situation.

Finally, it is crucial to note that if you are taking medication with hypoglycemia as a potential side effect, such as Gliclazide, do not attempt a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet without consulting your doctor and using a glucose meter. Changing your diet without proper medical guidance and adjusting your medication dosage can cause a sudden and dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. Your doctor may need to gradually lower your medication dosage or even stop it entirely, but you should never make these changes on your own. Always talk to your doctor first

What foods increase blood sugar levels? Well, besides sugar, starches can also raise your blood glucose. This includes bread, anything made with grain or oat flour, rice, potatoes, pasta, corn, cereal (even the “healthy” options like Weetabix and muesli), most beans, and most fruits. Therefore, you may want to reduce your intake of these foods or avoid them altogether.

What foods can you still buy? Here are some options: meat, fish, poultry, leafy greens and vegetables that grow above ground, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, full-fat Greek yogurt, full-fat milk, extra dark chocolate (85% cocoa chocolate, is a great choice!), avocados, whole tomatoes, berries, olives, and nuts. Looking for meal ideas?

Here are some meal ideas to add to your shopping list:

  • Eggs with ham, bacon, and cheese
  • Omelet with spinach and/or smoked salmon
  • Omelet with cream, cinnamon, berries, and coconut shavings
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt with nuts and berries
  • Leafy green salad with tuna (in oil), mayonnaise, capers, olives, and avocado
  • Leafy green salad with warm goat cheese and bacon, topped with vinaigrette dressing
  • Meat, fish, or poultry with veggies like cauliflower rice or broccoli rice, with cheese and bacon for added flavor. You can use different herbs and spices to switch things up.
  • Scrambled eggs with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, tomato, and high meat content sausages for a filling breakfast.

Remember to choose whole, unprocessed foods and limit or avoid starches like bread, grains, rice, potatoes, pasta, and most fruits.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of recipes online for low-carb meals. Just search for what you want to make and add “keto” to it. The diabetes.co.uk website and www.dietdoctor.com have many recipes and visual guides (including carb content) as well as videos. I highly recommend reading Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Diabetes Code, which is not only informative but also an enjoyable read. It will help you understand how to manage your condition and communicate effectively with your doctor.

If maintaining your weight is important, then avoid Intermittent Fasting or One Meal A Day. Instead, stick to a diet of three meals and three snacks per day, all of which are low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. This approach can help you manage your blood sugar levels without compromising your weight.