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Serving dieters and diabetics since 2003

Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes (in most cases this will be 'late onset' though not always late!) you should take advice from your doctor or diabetes consultant before embarking on any changes in eating habits.

TYPE 2 DIABETES

Back in the 1950s and earlier, Type 2 diabetics were put on a lower carbohydrate (low sugar) or low glycemic diet as being essential. This went out of fashion, particularly through the 1980s to the present day. How I see it, the Atkins diet (low carb, high protein, moderate fat, low glycaemic) is very similar to the old fashioned low carbohydrate diet diabetics used to follow. Dieting in general, not particularly for diabetics, in the last 30 or so years has concentrated on low calories and low fat (eg Weightwatchers) and products generally available in supermarkets are promoted as 'low fat' or similar. No mention is made of the carbohydrate or sugar content (often increased) in these slogans. All this coincides with the rocketing in numbers of people being diagnosed with 'late onset' diabetes and the lowering of the average age of onset, with some young people developing it.

To reduce your chances of developing diabetes, as I see it, the following are important points: dont become obese; if you are overweight take action to reduce it, by changes to your eating habits and by taking more exercise; reduce your carbohydrate (sugar) intake, particularly of refined, high glycaemic carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white bread, white pasta, white rice).

In addition to following a low carb/low glycemic diet, diabetics do best to have small frequent meals. This all helps to keep the blood glucose (sugar) levels steady. Do not skip any meals, and have at least one snack between each meal. Avoid large meals or binges.

Diabetics are more prone to heart disease and should therefore watch their bad cholesterol levels. I say 'bad' because 'good' cholesterol helps control the levels of cholesterol in the blood, and some is essential. By following the Atkins diet properly, fat (in the absence of sufficient carbohydrate) is burnt for energy. Therefore, on this or similar diets only, fat consumption is not adding to your weight or to your bad cholesterol levels. Avoid hydrogenated margarine - olive spread and olive oil, for instance, are fine. It may be better to eat butter than hydrogenated margarine (trans fats). My personal experience of the Atkins diet is that it has lowered my cholesterol levels, even though I increased my consumption of double cream from nil to a dollop a day! You can read much more about this on the Atkins website (totally free of charge) or in the books.

I believe that all the products in the Avidlite Online Shop are suitable for diabetics, and are useful extras for a low carb/low glycemic diet, adding variety and 'normality'.

TYPE 1 DIABETES

You may be advised by a doctor/consultant/dietician against following a ketonic diet like the early phases of Atkins. As stated above, in my opinion one should try to keep levels of blood glucose constant. This can be greatly achieved by eating small frequent meals, not skipping any meals, by having a snack between each meals, or even two small snacks evenly spread between meals, and no large meals or binges. High glycemic foods, which increase the blood glucose levels quickly, should be avoided. The worst of these is sugar, so try to avoid all products containing more than a trace of added sugar. Avoid highly refined carbs - usually white, and go for whole grain versions instead - usually brown. Vegetables and fruit contain carbohydrates and sugar, but are slower release, particularly non-root vegetables, and therefore low glycemic and good, especially as they contain valuable nutrients and fibre.

The final phase of the Atkins diet, called Lifetime Maintenance, is basically a low glycemic diet, not aimed at weight loss, and should be ideal for all diabetics, especially if concerned about following a ketonic diet. There are other low glycemic diets which would also be suitable, or just follow my simple advice above. If following the Atkins diet or any other ketonic diet, as you progress through the phases and increase the carbohydrates, I would recommend that you decrease your fat, particularly saturated fat, consumption as you increase the carbohydrates, as you will be burning less fat for energy.

For more about preventing diabetes click on the words "Diabetes prevention and control" below. The information on that page is also relevant for people with diabetes.

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