Type 2 diabetes is avoidable - your diet can prevent you suffering

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
4 March 2013

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise with one in 20 people in the UK now a sufferer - and thousands more undiagnosed.

Diabetes means lifelong medical treatment and an overhaul of your diet. In serious cases it can cost people eyesight, limbs and occasional their lives. And the big tragedy is that this serious condition is avoidable with simple diet and lifestyle changes.

Type 1 is hereditary but type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in middle age after years of bad diet catch up with the body and it stops being able to process sugar properly. And anyone is susceptible.

Cathy Moulton, Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK explains: "Around 80 per cent of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented with lifestyle changes, such as being more physically active and eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetable and low in salt, sugar and fat.

[Related: UK rated 5th in world for childhood diabetes]

"Even small changes, such as taking a regular brisk walk or swapping high-fat foods for something healthier can help a person to maintain a healthy weight and so reduce their chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

But that doesn't mean you have to cut out sugar entirely when you're young. To prevent diabetes you need to make regularly healthy decisions about what you eat and how much you exercise, but you can still have a little of what you fancy occasionally.

The ideal diabetes-prevention diet

You don't need a diabetes-specific diet, you just need to pay attention to the healthy eating advice that's already out there. A balanced diet with plenty of nutrients, fruit and vegetables is key.

You're aiming to keep your blood sugar level, rather than giving it spikes by eating sugary foods. For this reason, a low GI diet is a good one to follow.

[Related: Natural remedies for diabetes]

If you find yourself getting tired or craving a sweet kick, try eating smaller meals more regularly or adding healthy snacks between meals to keep your blood sugar, and energy, levels up.

Wholegrains - instead of white rice, bread and pasta, go for brown, wholegrain varieties that haven't lost nutrients in the refinement process.

Fibre - you need plenty of this to keep your digestive system moving and high fibre foods tend to release their energy slowly. Good sources include vegetables and high-fibre breakfast cereals.

Reduce sweet foods - cut down on very sugary foods that give you a big sweet hit at once. This includes foods with natural sugars such as fruit and fruit juice, which should be limited to one glass a day.

If you can't give up sugary foods entirely, think about your meal as a whole. Reduce the amount of carbs you have so that you can have a small, sweet dessert at the end of your meal. And cut portion sizes so you still get the treat you crave but it's not so bad for you.

[Related: Five surprisingly healthy foods]

Vegetables and pulses - eat plenty of these non-starchy carbs to keep you full and keep your blood sugar level, as they will release their energy over the day.

Protein - Go for healthy protein sources such as fish, chicken and vegetarian sources such as beans.

Good fats - Some fat is good for you but avoid saturated fats and those found in red meat and dairy and instead go for options such as olive oil, nuts and seeds and avocados.

As well as what you eat, pay attention to how you eat. Regularly spacing meals and snacks is important and eat slowly so your body has time to register you're full before you over do it.


There's no avoiding how vital exercising is to your health and particularly to keeping you diabetes-free. Try different fitness options to find one that you actually enjoy, which will make it easier to incorporate into your life.

Some people find it easier to get their exercise  with friends for encouragement, while others prefer activities such as yoga and walking they can do on their own. If you're short on time, go to a higher-intensity class that backs in a whole workout to half an hour.

[Related: Why exercising with friends is more successful]

Aim to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes, three times a week.

Diabetes is more commonly diagnosed to people who are overweight. Following this advice should help you look and feel great, but if the weight is creeping on it could be to do with emotional eating or even a physical problem.

Keep a food diary and if you're not feeling the benefits of healthy eating, see your GP for more advice. Find out more at Diabetes UK.

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