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Diet and Nutrition for Type 2 Diabetes

diabetic feeding panel

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, i.e. too high a level of sugar in the blood. This disease usually occurs after the age of 40 and mainly affects people who are obese or overweight. Diet for type 2 diabetics helps to meet nutritional needs, control blood sugar levels, achieve a healthy weight and prevent the risk of associated diseases.


The essentials of the diet for type 2 diabetics:

  • Choosing foods with a low glycemic index
  • Consuming Fibre
  • Favour good quality fats
  • Avoid added sugar
  • Adapting diet to physical activity

Diet benefits in type 2 diabetics

The purpose of the special feed for type 2 diabetics is to :

  • Fulfill nutritional needs
  • Controlling blood sugar levels
  • Preventing hypoglycemia
  • Achieving a healthy weight
  • Prevent cardiovascular disease

Diabetes and diet are closely linked. This fact sheet gives you dietary recommendations for people with diabetes. However, it is not a substitute for a consultation with a qualified dietician-nutritionist. Several factors such as age, sex, weight, treatment, etc. can influence these dietary recommendations.

In adults with diabetes, carbohydrates should represent 50 to 55% of total energy intake, proteins 10 to 15% and lipids 30 to 40%. These differences make it possible to individualize nutritional treatment on a case-by-case basis.

Diabetic food helps control blood sugar levels

Controlling blood glucose levels is a priority for people with diabetes. In addition to worsening diabetes in the long term, a rise in blood glucose levels can be very dangerous at the time. The diet for people with type 2 diabetes aims to distribute carbohydrates and the different food groups fairly evenly throughout the day. To control blood glucose and weight, carbohydrate intake must be well distributed throughout the day and there must be adequate spacing between meals. It is not advisable, for example, to have 4 servings of fruit for breakfast and then not eat any more for the rest of the day.

Type 2 Diabetic Diet Prevents Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia mainly affects diabetics who take insulin. It is a sudden drop in blood glucose levels that can be caused by various events such as :

  • Taking too much insulin or too much medication
  • Delaying a meal or snack
  • Meal too light
  • Unanticipated physical activity

Achieving a healthy weight with a complete diet

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can play a role in controlling and stabilizing blood glucose levels. A loss of 5-10% of the initial weight already improves insulin sensitivity, blood glucose control and blood lipid control. A healthy weight also helps prevent diseases associated with type 2 diabetes. By eating better, cutting back on portion sizes and moving more, you’ll achieve this goal naturally.

Special diet for type 2 diabetes to prevent cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common complications of type 2 diabetes. The risk of cardiovascular disease is 2 to 3 times higher in diabetics. It is therefore essential that the diabetic diet takes this risk into consideration and proposes appropriate dietary measures. The diet for diabetics should include a reduction in fat intake and a preference for good fats. It is a diet low in saturated and trans fatty acids.

People with diabetes who wish to accurately calculate their total energy requirement in order to assess the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to be consumed can do so with the help of a registered dietician.

Special diet for type 2 diabetes: recommendations

People who are diabetic or overweight should eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. The goal is to regain a healthy weight, avoid hypoglycemia and the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is what the diet for type 2 diabetics proposes.

What are the anti-diabetes foods?

The diet for diabetics includes foods that are beneficial against diabetes. These foods provide the body with just what it needs while stabilising blood sugar levels. Thus, by following these recommendations, type 2 diabetes can be much better experienced on a daily basis.

Low glycemic index carbohydrates

It is now recognized that taking into account the glycemic index (GI) of foods can provide benefits as part of the diabetic diet. A low GI diet can result in lower blood sugar, better metabolic control and improved blood lipid levels, among other things. This is the conclusion of two meta-analyses. It is recommended to favour foods with a low or medium glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index should be avoided.

Marine Omega-3

Omega-3 can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetics by reducing blood triglycerides. It also seems that fish, in general, reduces the risk of diabetes or glucose intolerance. However, it is recommended that regular consumption of fish be preferred to fish oil-based alternatives. The American Heart Association recommends that patients with cardiovascular disease consume 1g of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) per day. This corresponds to 3 portions of 150g of oily fish per week.

The oily fish richest in omega-3 are :

  • Mackerel
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Halibut
  • Canned sardines
  • Shrimps
  • Cod
  • Scallops

Soluble dietary fibres

Dietary fibre reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Once diabetes is diagnosed, it still helps to reduce blood lipid levels. Soluble fibre, in particular, slows gastric emptying and delays the absorption of glucose, thus improving blood glucose levels after a meal. Type 2 diabetics are prone to hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). Fibre can lower this level. For example, an intake of 50g per day may have an effect on insulin and blood lipid levels. It is recommended to consume between 25 and 50g of fibre as part of the diet for diabetics.


Diabetes contributes to the activity of oxidants, free radicals. It is therefore necessary to consume enough foods rich in antioxidants to compensate for this phenomenon. Antioxidants are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. They inhibit the damage caused by glycation (reaction between glucose and proteins), which is responsible for the accelerated ageing of tissues. It is important to note that glycation can lead to complications such as arteriosclerosis, kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy, etc.

In the table below, find the 20 foods that are the richest in antioxidants.




Red cabbage
Sweet potato

Diabetes: what are the forbidden foods?

In the diet for diabetics, certain foods should be avoided. In addition to increasing the risk of hypoglycemia, they are harmful to the body in the long term. In fact, the following foods promote weight gain, a rise in blood lipid levels and thus the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long term.

Added sugars

Controlling carbohydrate intake is of paramount importance in a diabetic diet. Carbohydrates are naturally present in foods (fruit, dairy products, starchy foods, etc.) but can also be added. Industrial products often contain added sugars in the form of saccharose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, syrups, etc. All these added sugars should be consumed in moderation. They are not very nutritious and cause large variations in blood sugar levels. It is suggested not to consume more than 10% of total calories in the form of added sugars if blood sugar levels are stable. If this is not the case, it is recommended that no more than 5% of total calories be consumed in the form of added sugars.

Foods high in added sugars :

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Sweet yoghurts
  • Dressings and sauces
  • Condiments
  • Cereal bars
  • Biscuits and cakes
  • Jams, Jellies and Spreads

Industrial food

As noted above, industrial foods often contain a significant proportion of added sugars and saturated fats. In addition to promoting weight gain, they have a negative effect on blood sugar and blood lipid levels. In the context of the diet for diabetics, it is strongly recommended to cook one’s own dishes as much as possible and to avoid ready-made meals and industrial foods.


Fructose produces a lower insulin response than sucrose or starch. On the other hand, when taken in large quantities, it is associated with an increase in blood triglyceride levels. It is therefore advisable to avoid consuming too much fructose on a daily basis. This intake should be limited to a maximum of 60g per day. Fructose is found in foods (fruit, honey, etc.), in drinks (especially fruit juice) but also in processed products in the form of glucose-fructose syrup. As always, it is important to read labels carefully.


As part of the diet for type 2 diabetics, care should be taken to consume alcohol in moderation. A glass of alcohol is tolerated only if the blood sugar level is well controlled, otherwise there is a high risk of hypoglycaemia. The risk of hypoglycaemia is greater if you are taking insulin or medicines that stimulate insulin secretion. Alcohol must be taken with food.

One serving of alcohol a day is tolerated in women and 2 servings a day in men.

One serving of alcohol corresponds to :

350ml of beer
12cl of wine
4.5 cl strong alcohol and spirits

Saturated fatty acids

It’s best to choose lean cheeses and meats and limit butter and cream. It’s just as important to read labels so you don’t make the mistake of choosing a product high in saturated and trans fats. Foods rich in Omega-6 should be eaten in moderation. If eaten in excess, they can oxidize and create a rise in fasting blood sugar levels.

Sources of fat to avoid :

  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Fatty meats and cold cuts
  • Grapeseed, sesame, sunflower and corn seed oils

Other foods not recommended :

  • French fries and breading
  • Salt
  • Sweet drinks

Diabetes and diet: our practical advice for everyday life

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Written by larguet

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