We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 and have had to make some life changes to protect ourselves and our families from this virus. But those with type 2 diabetes need to take extra measures as they often have other medical issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. If their diabetes isn’t well controlled at this time, their immune system won’t be as strong, which puts them at higher risk of a secondary infection if they contracted the virus. So, this blog is about the foods to help you stay strong, boost your immune system and help manage your blood glucose levels.
Families are now transitioning to work from home and distance themselves from social situations and starting to stock up on food and medical supplies in case they become unwell.
What foods should we be buying?
It’s natural to look for products that’ll last a long time in the pantry, in case we can’t leave home to get fresh food. When choosing, it’s important to consider a range of food types to ensure you get the nutrients you need.
Remember, we get glucose from eating carbohydrate foods. Our bodies NEED glucose to function properly. However, too much carbohydrate will cause blood glucose (BG) levels to rise, as it’s the process of getting glucose into the body’s cells that is affected in type 2 diabetes. If you’re planning meals high in pasta, rice and potato over the next few months, your body may not be able to process this amount of carbohydrate, which may result in higher BG levels.
How will you know if it’s too much?
Check your BG levels before and two hours after your meal. These should be similar, as it takes two hours for your body to digest your meal and move the glucose into your cells.
Food and drinks that will be helpful at this time:
- Food and drinks that won’t cause additional rise in BG levels
- Foods that contain fibre that slows the release of glucose into the blood
- Drinks to stay hydrated
- Foods with nutrition so your body has what it needs to boost its immune system.
Some ideas for your next shop:
Fruit and Vegetables
- Frozen vegetables
- Canned vegetables – corn, tomatoes, lentils, beans (look for no added salt varieties)
- Canned soup
- Avoid packet soups. They have a high sodium content, which can be dehydrating, increase your blood pressure and they also have low nutritional value.
- Frozen berries
- Canned fruit in natural juice
Grains high in Fibre
- Wholegrain wraps, beans, lentils, rolled oats, wholegrain crackers, nuts and seeds
Don’t forget the Calcium
- Fresh milk, UHT milk or milk powder, yoghurt, almonds, canned fish with bones
Meat or meat alternatives
- Lean meat, fresh or frozen fish, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, canned fish (salmon, sardines, tuna)
Are you on medication or insulin that increase you risk of hypoglycaemia (hypo)?
Tips to help keep your BG levels in range:
- Include drinks without sugar to stay hydrated. If you don’t drink a lot of water, go for unflavoured mineral water and add your own fresh lemon or sugar free cordial.
- If choosing to sip on hot lemon and honey, just add 1 tsp honey.
- Drain the juice from canned fruit.
- Be careful with potato – one small-medium potato per meal; sweet potato has less effect.
- Eat smaller amounts of rice or pasta and bulk it up with extra vegetables.
Tips to prevent waist gain while at home:
- Choose healthier snacks more often than not, low in saturated fat and sugar – wholegrain crackers, fruit toast, unflavoured popcorn, small handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. Remember you want foods with nutrients to build your immunity, but not the kilojoules.
- Alcohol – Kilojoules in alcohol are easily consumed. The body will always process alcohol first, (because it’s seen as a poison), so the kilojoules from the food you eat at this time is more likely to be stored as fat.
- Being out of your normal routine can lead to excess sitting and snacking. This is a good time to practice mindful eating, watching portion sizes, and remember to keep moving – getting up and walking around every hour.
- Stress is a big contributor to waist gain. It can be defined as ‘a feeling we can’t handle a situation’ which puts our brain into survival mode. This can result in a lack of clear thinking, resulting in not making the best food, drink or physical activity choices. In this mode we’re only thinking of now, not long term. So emotional and over-eating can become an issue.
- Find ways to decrease your stress levels as best you can. Stress hormones cause fat to be deposited around the waist, it increases BG levels and blood pressure and lowers the immune system.
We trust you’ll find some of this information is helpful. We understand everyone is unique and will find different things that work for them. It’s a matter of developing our own tool kit with all the things that work for us, that we can pull out when we need them.
Let us know what you have in your tool kit!
Helen & Amanda