Medically Reviewed By: Tom Iarocci, MD
If you receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, you will also receive a plan for a whole new lifestyle. You'll have to change your diet, exercise more, quit smoking, take medications, visit doctors, and more. This can feel overwhelming, but it is important that you receive and follow a healthy diet plan for type 2 diabetes if you are to have it under control and avoid complications.
It is likely that you will first want to know what you can eat. Your physician will provide you with a healthy diet plan for type 2 diabetes, but this may still leave you somewhat confused and overwhelmed. There is a lot to take in, after all. Hopefully, the following will clear a few things up for you.
1. What Can You Eat?
You can eat anything and everything, but there’s a catch, which we’ll get to in a bit. Let’s start with the good news: you can eat almost every type of food you can think of and still have good control over your diabetes.
Once upon a time, when people were diagnosed, they would be provided with an encyclopedic list of forbidden foods, and they were told again and again that they had to remove all sugar from their diet. Luckily these old fashioned "do's and don'ts" are no longer so rigidly structured.
What matters is that your diet is healthy and balanced. It doesn't mean, in other words, that you can never have chocolate cake again. It simply means that you should only have that small piece of cake if you have not yet met your caloric limit—and if you cut out other carbs that you might have had instead, and that you have made sure you have received all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet as well.
Yes, you will need to make some changes to what you were eating before, but these changes have to be realistic, and you have to be able to keep them up long term. Totally removing something from your diet is counterproductive, because it will only make you want it more.
The idea is that you should tweak your diet so that you start to control your levels of blood glucose and fat. This strategy should also help your blood pressure. Lastly, you should achieve a healthy weight. Scientific evidence has shown that each of these factors are affected by what you eat, so do avail yourself of a visit with a nutritionist to have a healthy diet plan for type 2 diabetes written up specific to your needs, even if it is just to help you make the initial changes.
2. What Can't You Eat?
If you are thirsty, you should drink, but your objective should be hydration and not adding extra calories and sugar. Try to not drink too many fruit juices and sugary drinks. These beverages raise your blood glucose levels, which is what you are fighting against in diabetes, and the extra calories can make you put on weight. So, stock up on the seltzer, sugar-free drinks and water. And you can have tea and coffee as well, but watch the sugar, cream and caffeine.
Be skeptical of the "suitable for diabetic" or "diabetic" food labels. Often these are low-value items that have plenty of fat and calories, and sometimes they use sugars which cannot be digested, causing you to have the laxative effect; plus, often they are not cheap.