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Type 2 diabetes: How to keep your portion sizes in check to avoid risks

Type 2 diabetes is a condition caused by abnormally high levels of blood glucose resulting from either the body’s inability produce enough insulin to control glucose levels or a natural resistance to the effects of insulin. If untreated, it can cause a host of serious health problems related to eyes, the heart and nerves. Over 3.8 million people are diagnosed with diabetes in the UK but the actual number of people living with the condition could be much higher as the condition often goes undetected. Making necessary lifestyle changes can help mitigate serious health risks.

The degree of insulin resistance is highest in a person with an “apple” shape

There are many triggers but obesity is one of the chief culprits.

Carrying excess weight encourages the resistance of insulin, which causes blood glucose levels to spike. The connection is confirmed by the fact that weight-loss has been proven to control or in certain cases cure type 2 diabetes.

According to the non-profit Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), “The degree of insulin resistance and the incidence of type 2 diabetes is highest in a person with an “apple” shape.

“These persons carry the majority of their excess body weight around their abdomen. In contrast, the ‘pear’ shaped person carries most of their weight in the hips and thighs and this is not as likely to be associated with insulin resistance.”

It is therefore imperative that people with type 2 diabetes monitor their weight. One effective way to do this is to keep your portion sizes in check.

The portion sizes will vary depending on a person’s weight, gender, body composition and activity levels, but as a rough guide, Diabetes UK recommends following meal plan:

Starchy food

Includes rice, pasta, bread and chapattis for energy. Choose wholegrain where possible. One portion is:

Cooked rice = 2 heaped tablespoons

Half a jacket potato = 1 computer mouse

Breakfast cereal = 3 tablespoons

Boiled pasta or cooked noodles = 3 heaped tablespoons

Dairy food

Includes milk, cheese and yoghurt for calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. One portion is:

Semi or skimmed milk = one medium glass (200ml or 1/3 pint)

Hard cheese = small matchbox (30g)

Reduced or low-fat cream cheese = two small matchboxes (60g)

Low-sugar, low-fat fromage frais/yoghurt = 125g pot

Meat, fish, eggs, pulses, beans and nuts

These foods are high in protein, essential to build and replace muscle. One portion is:

Cooked lean meat (eg chicken, beef or pork) = deck of playing cards (60–90g)

Beans and pulses (eg red kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas or lentils) = 4 tablespoons

Nuts or peanut butter (unsalted) = golf ball (2 level tablespoons)

Quorn, tofu or soya = snooker ball (120g)

Fruit

“Fruit Provides you with important vitamins, minerals and fibre that help protect you against stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers,” says the charity. It is an essential part of your five-a-day plan. One portion is:

One handful of grapes

One small glass (150ml) of fruit juice (limit to one portion a day)

Two small satsumas, clementines or tangerines

Two medium plums

Two tinned pineapple rings or 12 chunks in natural juice

One heaped tbsp raisins, sultanas, currants or dried cranberries

Seven strawberries

Vegetables

An important source of fibre, minerals and vitamins, and an important part of any five-a-day plan. One portion is:

Three heaped tablespoons cooked veg (eg carrots, peas, sweetcorn, mixed veg)

One medium onion

One large sweet potato

Two broccoli spears

One heaped tablespoon tomato purée

One piece of cucumber (5cm)

Four large mushrooms or 14 button mushrooms

Three heaped tablespoons beans or pulses (eg kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils)

Foods high in fat and sugar

The health body explains: “You can enjoy foods from this group as an occasional treat, but they will add extra calories so it’s best to keep them to a minimum, especially if you are trying to lose weight. One portion is:

Butter/margarine = one dice (5g)

Low fat spread = two dice (10g)

Unsaturated oil (eg sunflower, rapeseed, olive oil) = 1 teaspoon

Chocolate = one fun size bar

Keeping a record of your current daily intake before you get started is a helpful way to track your progress and see how much you eat in relation to the recommended standards, says the American Diabetes Association.

It adds, “Don’t feel bad and think you have to lose a lot of weight. You only have to lose 5-10 lbs. to lower your chances for diabetes. If you have diabetes, losing 5-10 lbs. could help you manage it.”

According to Diabetes UK, other top tips to manage portion sizes include:

  • Use smaller plates and bowls to help make your portion sizes look bigger.
  • Weigh food if you find it hard to gauge portion sizes. Foods like muesli,
  • Pasta and rice can be difficult to get right at first, so try using the same container to measure out certain foods.
  • Be mindful of what you’re eating. It takes about 20 minutes before your brain registers that you’re full, so eat slowly, putting your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls.

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