What is a diabetic diet and should a person with diabetes be following the so called diabetic diet?

Dietary advice given to people with diabetes is often confusing. Of major concern is the inconsistency in the information given to diabetics – often by health professionals. Information or advice given may be outdated or not enough time is available to explain important principals properly.

Why is dietary advice given to people with diabetes often confusing?

Typically, the “diabetic diet” will vary in terms of the way in which important nutritional principles are explained. Recommendations regarding foods (that contain sugar or fat or emphasis on Glycaemic Index (GI), artificial sweeteners or fibre) vary and can be confusing to the diabetic.

The term “diabetic diet” should rather be used with reference to an individualised diet that has been developed taking into account the requirements of a person with diabetes.

What is the ideal diabetic diet?

No single factor – not GI, nor fibre content, nor fat content etc. – should be regarded as any more important than the others. Instead, it is essential to look at the diet for someone with diabetes holistically. All of the factors mentioned are important to ensure a well balanced diet – suitable for the person with diabetes- as well as the following:
– how much one eats
– type of foods chosen
– food combinations
– sugar concentration (more so than merely sugar as an ingredient)
– how refined a product is (e.g. rolled oats instead of quick cooking oats.

Unfortunately, it requires some skill to put together a diet planner that will incorporate all that is required. On top of that, any meal planner should allow the person with diabetes enjoyable food choices whilst ensuring they maintain blood glucose control.