Food for Thought Blog

Supporting Individuals Following a Diabetic Diet

November 12th, 2021Awareness, Food

According to Diabetes Canada, 29% of Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition that makes you more susceptible to developing diabetes(1).

Last year in Waterloo Region, 665 households that accessed emergency food assistance, requested foods for a diabetic diet. Nutrition plays a crucial role in helping to manage and possibly prevent diabetes. For those who are experiencing food insecurity, accessing food that can help manage their diabetes can be more difficult due to the high cost of those items.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body is not able to regulate its blood sugar levels. When we consume carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into glucose. This type of sugar is the body’s main form of energy, however, for our cells to absorb and use glucose they need the help of a hormone called insulin. When someone has diabetes their body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not respond to insulin. Both cases mean that the cells are not able absorb glucose and get the energy they need to carry out different roles in the body. This also leads to high blood sugar levels which can have many negative side effects on the body.

Why is diet important for someone with diabetes?

Diabetes, especially if left unmanaged, can lead to a wide range side effects or different health complications. Potential side effects or complications from diabetes may include:

  • Blindness
  • Kidney Failure and Dialysis
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Amputation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Nerve Damage
  • Numbness in feet or foot complications
What foods support individual with diabetes?

Nutrition plays a key role in helping to treat and prevent diabetes. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are high is fibre which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and prevents spikes in blood sugar which are more difficult for individuals with diabetes to control. Protein can also play a role in regulating blood sugar. Most individuals receive support from a dietitian or other health care professional on how to manage their diet to help regulate blood sugar levels, however, the following are foods that commonly recommended for a diabetic diet.

  • Whole Grain Products (ex. cereal, oatmeal, cracker, pasta, barley)
  • Fruits and Vegetables with no added salt or sugar
  • Low Fat Milk Products
  • Lean Protein (chicken, tuna, beans, lentils, legumes, etc.)

How to Support Individuals Who Require a Diabetic Diet?

  1. Consider Making a Financial Donation
    • Financial donations allow us to work with community members and industry partners to secure appropriate fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food items to support individuals with diabetes.
  2. Donate Non-Perishable Items
    • Canned fruits and vegetables with no added salt or sugar.
    • Canned beans or lentils with no added salt
    • Whole grain pasta, cereal, and crackers
    • Rice
    • Unsweetened oatmeal
    • Dried beans, lentils, and legumes
    • Canned tuna or meat (low sodium and/or packed in water)
    • Unsweetened peanut butter