Food in Type 2 diabetes

Adaptation of diet is one of the fundamental treatments for people with type 2 diabetes. Along with the pharmacological treatment and the practice of physical exercise on a regular basis,

Food in Type 2 diabetes

Struggling with diabetes?

Adaptation of diet is one of the fundamental treatments for people with type 2 diabetes. Along with the pharmacological treatment and the practice of physical exercise on a regular basis, a diet adapted to diabetes is able to improve and help to normalize the levels of Blood glucose.

Although the benefits are clear, there are still many doubts about how to carry out this specific diet to treat diabetes, since it does not consist only in consuming healthy foods, but it is necessary to have some more knowledge. For example, is it enough if I eliminate the sugars in the diet? Is it necessary to reduce the consumption of all fats? Are there foods that can be consumed freely without affecting the blood glucose values?


Next, these and some other questions and doubts are very common in people with type 2 diabetes worried about their diet.

Is it enough to eliminate sugar to control 2 diabetes?

Common sense tells us that if diabetes is characterized by an increase in blood glucose (sugar) levels, the problem could be resolved by reducing or eliminating the sugars in the diet. Although this is a good measure of general health, unfortunately, it is not enough to control diabetes properly.

The message is important: foods that contain carbohydrates are those that will increase blood glucose levels.

Within carbohydrates we find 2 groups that should be taken into account in the diet of people with diabetes:

  • Sugars: table sugar, some sweeteners such as fructose, fruits and fruit juices, milk and yogurt, sweets, sugary drinks, chocolate, and pastry products.
  • Starches: present in farinaceous foods such as rice, pasta, potato, legumes, bread, cereals, pastries and pastries.

The sugars belong to the group of carbohydrates. Therefore, it is understood that the sugars present in a sweet or a cake will increase blood glucose levels in a similar way to the starch that contains bread, rice or potatoes. In any case, the first step to take is to control the amount of those carbohydrates ingested, be they sugars or starches. 

Should the diet be high or low in carbohydrates?

In recent years, recommendations on the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates have been modified. Thus, at present, the American Diabetes Association indicates that there is no recommended amount of carbohydrates for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, with high or low carbohydrate feeding guidelines being authorized for the treatment of diabetes. It seems reasonable to think that the number of carbohydrates should be adapted to each person according to their personal characteristics and especially their levels of physical activity. Thus the amounts of food such as bread, rice, pasta or vegetables should be increased in people who exercise regularly and reduce in others more sedentary.


People who are treated with insulin or oral medication that can lead to hypoglycemia should pay special attention, maintaining similar amounts of carbohydrates in each of the meals of the day. This will avoid imbalances that can cause hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.

Are complex carbohydrates absorbed slowly? Are they better than the simple ones?

The carbohydrates can be grouped according to the size of the molecules that form them. In this way, there are simple carbohydrates (or sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches). You tend to think that simple carbohydrates raise blood glucose much more quickly than complex carbohydrates. This is not always the case.

First of all, the most important thing to remember is that any food that contains carbohydrates will increase blood glucose levels. Foods rich in sugars or refined flours (such as white bread, cereals, white rice, pasta or potato) are those that raise the blood glucose figures faster because their Digestion is very fast and they pass into the blood easily.

Meanwhile, foods rich in whole grain flours (brown rice, whole grains) and legumes raise blood glucose much more slowly. As always, there is some exception. Some foods that contain sugars raise blood glucose more progressively. This is the case with fruits. The sugar that they contain in a majority way is fructose.

This sugar must undergo a series of transformations to be converted into glucose, so the effect on blood glucose levels is slower. Should I use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar? Artificial sweeteners are a group of substances that contribute sweet taste to food without increasing the contribution of carbohydrates. Thus, using these substances instead of sugar would reduce the number of carbohydrates ingested and thereby, moderate blood glucose levels.

There is much controversy about the use of sweeteners in people with diabetes. In some cases, its use has been linked to unwanted side effects for health. In any case, these studies are not sufficiently serious and conclusive, so that currently their use is authorized in our country, is considered safe. However, the reasonable use of these sweeteners is recommended, avoiding abusive use that could give rise to doses above those recommended. Some people use fructose-based sweeteners or the like, such as some agave syrups. Fructose, although slower, also increases blood glucose levels.

What happens with fats and proteins?

The direct effect of eating high-fat foods (oil, butter, cream, nuts or fatty parts of milk). animals) or proteins (meats, fish, eggs, cheese among others) is much lower compared to the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates. If the recommended portions are consumed, these foods hardly affect blood glucose levels. However, excessive consumption can lead to imbalances in blood glucose levels, weight gain and alterations in some metabolic parameters, which would worsen the general health status of the person with diabetes. In addition, it is important to correctly select the type of food to be consumed, avoiding processed protein foods or low-quality fats, especially those found in many bakery and pastry products.

Should I buy special foods for diabetics?

The diet of people with diabetes does not require the consumption of products special, because you can make balanced menus and adapted using the usual products, only taking into account the quantities of food consumed.

Despite this, there are interesting products on the market that reduce the content or type of carbohydrates compared to the usual ones. In this way, you can find chocolates, cookies, nougat, puddings or bread that due to this reduction would have a lower effect on blood glucose levels.

To know if these products are interesting or not, it is necessary to review the nutritional labeling they provide, comparing it with the original product. it should be remembered that these products offer a reduction, and not elimination, of carbohydrate content, so they cannot be taken freely.

In this article, information has been provided that answers many of the doubts they are presented to people with diabetes about their correct nutrition. In any case, the feeding pattern must be prescribed and personalized by the health professional, as it will be the person who will adapt the diet to the characteristics and needs of each individual.

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