Nonetheless, Diabetes UK says it is equally important to eat five portions of fruit if you’re living with diabetes or if you’re not. It explains: “You might think that the sugar content of fruit means that you can’t eat it. But the sugar in whole fruit does not count towards free sugars, so it is not this type of sugar we need to cut down on. This is different to the free sugar in drinks, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, as well as in fruit juices and honey.”
The Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation says: “The main type of nutrient in food that raises blood glucose levels is called carbohydrate, often referred to as ‘carbs’.
“Carbohydrates are found mainly in starchy and sugary foods. All carbohydrates, whether sugar or starch, processed or unprocessed, will affect blood glucose levels.”
It explains that all fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose. It notes: “There is growing evidence that people who eat plenty of fruit and vegetables have a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
“You should try to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables; aiming for at least five portions a day. Fresh, frozen, canned, juices and dried fruit and vegetables all count towards a portion. A portion is equivalent to 80 grams (about 3 ounces).”
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It says potatoes are classed as starchy foods and do not contribute to fruit and vegetable intake.
“Remember fruit, and particularly fruit juices, contain natural sugar and will raise blood glucose levels, but most vegetables, especially green vegetables, will have a minimal effect on glucose levels,” says the Foundation.
Diabetes UK says: “It is very unlikely that you need to reduce your fruit intake but you could keep a food diary to check how often and how much fruit you are eating.
“Many people eat fruit infrequently, but tend to have larger portions when they do eat them, so some people find that it is easy to overdo the dried fruit, grapes and tropical fruits.”
It says fruit juice and smoothies ideally need to be avoided or at least cut down on.
It states: “This is because fruit juice and smoothies have most of the roughage removed or already broken down, so it is very easy to drink large quantities in a short space of time – and ultimately this means extra calories and carbohydrate.
“Having less intact fibre means fruit juices and smoothies are not as beneficial to the body compared to whole fruits.”
As a guide, a portion of fresh fruit is one that fits into the palm of an adult hand, according to the organisation. Diabetes UK says: “Be mindful of your serving sizes too.”
The NHS says there is nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, “but you’ll have to limit certain foods”.
“If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week,” it says.
The health body explains: “If you find it hard to change your diet, a dietitian might be able to help.
“Talk to your GP or diabetes nurse to see if the cost could be covered through the NHS.”
The NHS suggests losing weight if you’re overweight will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.
If you need to lose weight, it is recommended for most people to do it slowly over time. Aim for around 0.5 to 1kg a week.
It explains: “There is evidence that eating a low-calorie diet (800 to 1,200 calories a day) on a short-term basis (around 12 weeks) can help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes. And some people have found that their symptoms go into remission.
“A low-calorie diet is not safe or suitable for everyone with type 2 diabetes, such as people who need to take insulin. So it is important to get medical advice before going on this type of diet.”