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Diet and Diabetes

Diet and Diabetes


Simple dietary modifications can help a lot in maintaining the optimal blood sugar (glucose) levels. A proper diet puts you in the driver’s seat in your journey towards diabetes control

Simple rules of dietary modifications are:

1. Avoid consuming energy dense foods like free sugars, high fat foods.
2. Consume adequate proteins to take care of daily bodily requirements while avoiding excess.
3. Have sufficient high fiber foods.
4. Try to keep the caloric intake and food timing consistent.

While making a diet plan, you should keep in following points in mind:

Calorie Intake:

It is essential for you to take a well-balanced diet which provides just enough calories to maintain ideal body weight. Since obesity is an independent risk factor for diabetes and its complications, you should reduce your calorie/food intake in order to achieve the desired reduction in body weight. Once the target body weight is attained then all efforts would be the concentrated on maintaining this weight.

In Diabetes, It is advisable to take small frequent meals. This reduces the fluctuations of sudden high or low blood sugar levels. Your meal plan should include 3 main meals with 2-3 snacks per day. Never skip or delay your meals. Fasting and crash dieting methods can be dangerous for diabetics.

Indian diet, fortunately, is closest to the diabetic diet. Broadly speaking, only reducing fat and free sugars in normal daily diet and avoiding overeating are simple measures that help you a long way in maintaining a healthy eating pattern.

Carbohydrates Intake:

Carbohydrates are the major source of energy of our diet. The most beneficial carbohydrate sources for diabetics are whole grains, cereals (like whole wheat flour, brown rice, oats, barley and millets) and fruits ( except mango, banana, pineapple, grapes and cheeku) because these are absorbed in the body slowly and hence are unlikely to cause sudden rise in blood glucose levels. Adjust your carbohydrate intake with the dose of medication in consultation with your doctor.

Jams, Jellies, Jaggery and fruits like mango, banana, pineapple, grapes and cheeku contain simple sugar and can raise the blood sugar levels instantly therefore you should avoid taking these food items.

You can use artificial sweeteners (like aspartame, sucralose, maltodextrins) but their nutritive value (calories) must be kept in mind (for example nutritive sweeteners such as fructose and sorbitol are high in calories).

Protein Intake:

Protein is essential for growth, development and tissue repair. Some rich sources of protein are pulses, beans, cottage cheese, fish, eggs, chicken, nuts, skimmed milk and milk bases preparations.

People with kidney disease (nephropathy) should restrict their protein intake ( you need to consult your doctor/nutritionist to know the exact protein allowance).

Fat Intake:

Fats are concentrated sources of energy proper selection of fat/oil source is important in management of diabetes.

All the vegetable oils (except coconut oil) are known to be beneficial and can be taken in moderate amount. You may use Soya, groundnut, mustard, rice bran, sunflower, corn, kardi, olive and palm oil in rotation, preferably using a mix of vegetable oils.

Saturated fats (like ghee, butter) and hydrogenated fats (like vanaspati) should be avoided as they tend to accumulated in blood vessels hampering the blood flow. This may lead to serious complications in diabetes.

Vitamins & Minerals:

Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals (rich sources include green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, milk and milk products, cereals, nuts, fish and egg) is recommended for diabetics to prevent nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy).

Alcohol Intake:

Alcohol can be consumed in moderation(link to FAQ). Alcohol not only provides empty calories but also interacts with medications in diabetes causing frequent attacks of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).