Ms Saritha Rajiv
Consultant Dietician and Nutritionist
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by an increase in blood glucose levels due to insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas or the inability of the cells to use insulin efficiently. Experts say that in a few years time, India will hold the dubious distinction of being the diabetes capital of the world. Why are we so vulnerable to it? Our genes, a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits and lack of awareness make us prone to obesity and obesity is one of the leading causes of Type 2 diabetes all over the world. Changes in lifestyle can reduce our dependency on medicines and help control the disease.
Dietary Management of Diabetes
The aim of a healthy diabetic diet is to keep blood sugar under control. Here is a simple method to keep your diet on track. As shown in the figure, divide your plate into half and divide one half into two more halves. The bigger half should contain fibre rich vegetables, one small half can contain whole grain and cereals, the other half can be of lean meat (chicken or fish) or pulses ( dals or peas or chole). Do not forget to include a cup of low fat milk or curd and a medium sized fruit.
Choose whole grains and cereals like whole wheat flour, ragi, bajra, brown rice etc instead of refined cereals like maida, white bread, white rice etc. Whole grains are rich in fibre and will prevent a spike in blood sugar levels unlike the white counter parts.
Fruits are not a taboo for diabetics. However, they contain simple sugars called fructose. An excess intake can cause a sudden increase in blood sugar. So eat them in moderation.
Watch your meals. Instead of eating three large meals, eat frequent, healthy smaller meals. This will help control your blood sugar.
Beware of Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Symptoms include excessive sweating, confused feeling, trembling, nausea and anxiety. To counter the condition, always carry a small packet of sugar candies or glucose powder.
Include poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats in the diet. Use oils like canola, rice bran, olive, mustard and sesame. Heart friendly omega 3 will keep the HDL (good cholesterol) high and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).
Choose low fat products like skimmed milk or low fat cured and lean meat. This will not only control cholesterol levels but also help maintain a healthy weight.
In short, diabetic diets are not boring. Identifying healthy foods, understanding portion size and learning to count carbohydrates will help you include many of your favourite foods in the diet. Your dietician can guide you through this journey of choosing the right foods to keep your blood sugar under control.