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Updated on April 14, 2021

Diabetes Smart Eating Tips

Nearly 1 in 5 (18.4%) of Malaysians have diabetes and the prevalence is the one of the highest in South East Asia compared to the global prevalence of 11%.  Diabetes is a disorder of glucose control and as such, should be easily controlled if you are able to control your food intake every day and lead a healthy lifestyle.  However, in reality, only around 22% are able to keep good control of their diabetes (defined as HbA1c below 6.5%).  In addition, over 80% of diabetes patients have excess weight while 60% admitted to having sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise.

CountryFasting GlucosePost-meal Glucose
Malaysia8.012.7
Indonesia7.911.6
Thailand7.911.0
Singapore7.67.5

Good control of Diabetes can be achieved by;

  • Taking medication as directed by your doctor
  • Checking and monitoring your blood glucose regularly (ideally every day)
  • Regular exercise (ideally 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week)
  • Losing weight to achieve an ideal BMI for your age and height
  • Eating healthily in the right portion and correct food types

Here are 3 simple smart tips to achieve better control

  • Be smart with your carbohydrate choices and portion sizes
  • Beautify your food
  • Be consistent with your meal times

Smarter Carbohydrate Choices

Most foods contain carbohydrate because this provides your body the energy required to function.  The key to healthy eating is to choose the carbohydrates with LOWER Glycemic Index (GI) to help control your blood glucose.  For example, substituting the white rice to a lower GI rice such as brown rice or long grain rice can reduce your HbA1c by around 0.4%.   Reducing portion of rice from a large scoop to a handful serving can reduce your HbA1c by around 1.3%.

Beautify Your Plate

Place the allocated amount of carbohydrate on your plate (it should be around 1/4 or less of your plate size).  After that, add some meat (1/4 plate) and non-starchy vegetables of different colours to beautify your plate.  When you look at your plate now, the meal looks very appetising and delicious but without excess carbohydrate or calories.

Consistent Meal Times

Try to create a routine so that you eat your meals around the same time every day.  In addition, try to be consistent with the amount you eat at each meal and try not to overeat (especially at parties or special functions).  This habit will help you maintain a steady blood glucose with less fluctuations.

Simple diet tips to help you keep better control of your Diabetes

  • Eat the vegetables BEFORE eating the rest of your meal (helps fill you up)
  • Eat fruits (1 or 2 servings) as snacks in between meals
  • Avoid snacking on high-calorie foods like biscuits, chocolate or chips with hidden sugars
  • Avoid sugary carbonated drinks (they contain between 6-9 teaspoons of sugar in each can)
  • Food preparation is very important.  Avoid deep frying food and avoid adding too much sugar or fat into the sauces or cooking style

Take photos of each meal for one whole day to share with your Doctor or Dietician. (this is called a Food Diary).  After that you can discuss with them how to improve or customise your diet based on your health condition.

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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