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Diabetes Diet: Tips For Best Dietary Management

Nutritionist Pooja Malohotra gives some intelligent meal planning tips for healthy eating for diabetics. This diet for diabetics is what you really need to control your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes Diet: Tips For Best Dietary Management

People suffering from diabetes need not survive on bland food all the time

Diabetes is one of those conditions which cannot be cured. It needs to be managed. It is a lifestyle related disorder and calls for lifestyle modifications. However, living with diabetes doesn't mean that you end up eating boring and bland food all your life or give up on your favorite foods like rice or mangoes. With some intelligent meal planning, you can effectively manage your diabetes, and in some cases even reverse it. People with diabetes are at double the risk of heart disease. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy and if a person gets wounded, the wound takes very long to heal. Well, the intent is not to scare you but look for the best diabetes diet to prevent this.

Read on to understand the basic principles of planning a diabetic diet.

diabetes People suffering from diabetes need not survive on boring and bland food all the time

Also read: Longevity Protein Could Help Treat Diabetes, Cancer

FAQ: What causes low blood sugar levels? 

So what is a diabetic diet? The nutrient requirements of a diabetic are very similar to a non-diabetic with a few modifications; you need to be especially careful about your source of carbohydrates. The focus shouldn't be on specific 'superfoods' but on small, frequent, wholesome balanced nutritious meals. Loosing just about 5-10 percent of body weight helps to lower blood sugar and blood pressure and helps borderline patients to reverse their condition. Follow this diabetes diet:

Foods to be included:

1. High fiber whole grains, coarse grains, millets

2. High quality protein such as pulses, beans, egg, low-fat dairy, fatty fish, organic poultry

3. Fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, the more colorful the better

4. Lots of fluid like nimboo pani, nariyal pani, buttermilk (chaas/namkeen lassi), namkeen sattu sherbet

5. Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, mustard oil, desi ghee, fatty fish, fish oils

fishFatty fish is considered to be healthy for diabetics
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: These 7 Superfoods Can Reverse Your Diabetes

Foods to be avoided in diabetes diet:

1. Refined flour which is devoid of fiber and nutrients

2. Red meats, processed meats

3. Fruit juices, whole fruits are a lot better and healthier than even freshly squeezed juice

4. Canned foods, packaged juices

5. Carbonated drinks, alcohol

6. Trans fat from hydrogenated fats, reheated oils

7. Processed, packaged and fast foods which contain refined flour, refined vegetable oil, excess salt, excess sugar and hidden sugars such as bakery items, chips, desserts, sugary cereals, refined pastas, white bread

alcohol causes insomniaDiabetics should avoid alcohol

Also read: Some Of The Top-Selling Diabetes Drugs In India Are Not Safe

Some golden rules for diabetics:

1. Take small, frequent meals, plan for 3-4 mid meals apart from 3 main meals.

2. No fasting, no feasting

3. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.

diabetesDiabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly

4. In case you take insulin shots, always carry some sugar/ glucose powder/ chocolates in case your blood sugar level drops very low.

5. Exercise regularly. Strength training helps to improve insulin resistance.

6. Stay away from packaged foods which say 'low-fat'. Fat is often replaced with a lot of hidden sugar.

Tricks to cut down sugar intake:

1. Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipes slowly to cultivate a taste for low sweetness. You can boost sweetness with mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla essence etc.

2. Sweeten foods yourself - Buy unsweetened yoghurt/ iced tea/ oatmeal etc and sweeten them yourself. You will add much lesser sweetener than the manufacturer.

no fat yogurt can have added sugarFrozen yogurt can be eaten to satisfy sugar cravings

3. Check food labels for hidden sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup, invert sugar, malt syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, evaporated cane juice etc.

4. Instead of an ice-cream, satisfy your sweet cravings by blending up some frozen fruits with yoghurts and chia seeds

Debunking some myths

1. Myth: I can never eat sugar!

Reality: You can eat sugar occasionally, portion control is the key. Choose desserts which are based on whole grains, nuts like a laddo made of atta, besan, til or peanut chikki etc, and those that have healthy fats. Avoid desserts based on refined flour, unhealthy fats and those fried in reheated oils

2. Myth: I cannot eat rice/ potato/ mango

Reality: All of these are safe for diabetics. The sugars present in these foods are natural sugars, which come with fiber and lots of nutrients.

mangoes and bananas for diabetic peopleIt is safe for diabetics to have mangoes
Photo Credit: iStock

3. Myth: I need special diabetic meals

Reality: Expensive diabetic meals offer no special benefit.

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Scores of sportspersons and celebrities across the globe, who are diabetic, are leading perfectly normal lives and managing their diabetes with mindful eating and healthy living. So can you. 

(Pooja Malhotra is a Delhi-based nutritionist)

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