Cause and Prevalence
Diabetes affects over 220 million people worldwide. Diabetes occurs in several types, including type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes happens when the pancreatic beta cells no longer produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for processing glucose. Why this occurs is not known, but it appears to be the cause of an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks those cells. Type 2 diabetes often has a genetic component, but lifestyle choices greatly increase the risk of developing it. This form usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition where the body does not respond to insulin as it should. It can progress into a form of insulin-dependent diabetes.
Hunger and Diabetes
Diabetics with uncontrolled blood glucose levels, especially those with type 1 diabetes, can experience excessive hunger as a symptom. All diabetics, however, can benefit from learning how to handle diabetes hunger and regular urges to eat unhealthy foods. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are often linked with being overweight, making it important to have good eating habits. By eating a healthy diet that curtails hunger, diabetics can maintain their weight in a range that helps decrease symptoms. Even modest weight loss can improve blood glucose levels and overall health.
Food Choices for Diabetics
Carbohydrates turn into glucose when eaten. They are a source of quick fuel for the body and brain. Simple carbs, like sugar, digest quickly and cause a fast rise in blood glucose levels in diabetics. While they can be consumed in moderation, they can also cause the hunger associated with diabetes. Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, make better choices. Greens can be eaten almost without limit as they have very few calories or carbohydrates and are nutrient dense. Protein and healthy fats, like olive oil and fish oil, help diabetics feel full longer and slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. These foods also have a low glucose response. Another factor for diabetic eating is how much food is consumed. Proper portion sizes can help maintain better blood glucose levels, control hypoglycemia in diabetics, and help with weight loss.
When to Eat
When to eat can be almost as important as what to eat when learning how to handle diabetes hunger. Diabetics should not go too long without food because it can cause hypoglycemia. Those on medication and insulin need to eat at regular intervals, preferably around the same times each day. This helps avoid extreme glucose and insulin changes. Other diabetics can benefit from healthy snacking between meals to curb hunger. Frequent protein snacks, including foods like nuts, can help. Carbohydrates should be spread throughout the day and not eaten all at once, which could cause a rapid blood sugar spike. Controlling diabetes hunger is about maintaining a balanced diet in when and what is eaten.
World Health Organization: Diabetes
HelpGuide: Diabetes Diet and Food Tips
Dietary Guidelines for Diabetes