Diet for diabetics
Small dietary changes can make a difference to your sugar levels, says Ameeta Agnihotri.
How many times have you heard that India is the diabetes capital of the world? Over 40 million Indians have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 30 million on their way to that diagnosis. Type2 diabetes is mainly due to lifestyle excesses — over eating, over resting, over indulging. You can also add genes to this mix. If diabetes does run in your family, consider it a warning and take steps to prevent it from running amok.
Sometimes, as soon as you find out that you are diabetic, those sugar cravings strike. You feel like eating every sweet in sight, every fruit in the market and every potato in the sack.
Well, that’s not allowed. At least, not when you’ve first been diagnosed. Follow the diet and exercise plan given by your doctor for at least three months, which is when your next check-up will be.
The first thing to do is get your weight under control. The biggest and easiest way down the ‘D’ road is via being over weight or obese, say experts from Stanford University. Sixty per cent of your fitness depends on food. Small dietary changes make a huge difference. Start by cut out those excesses like starting your day with sugar-frosted flakes in extra sweet milk. If you can’t do without sugar in your coffee/tea, opt for a sugar substitute. Granted they are not the best option but they are still better than sugar. The sugar in the coffee/tea is largely a mind battle. Persevere and you will enjoy your morning cuppa without its sweetness.
There is good news too. You don’t need to cut out all the foods that you like. You can eat non-vegetarian foods like fish, eggs, chicken and meat. Simply limit portions to 100 gm or consult your dietician for the exact amount. In fact, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are good for the heart. Every article about nutrition keeps harping about junking the junk. And you don’t have a choice. You have to Just Do It. Avoid those sweetened colas, burgers and pizzas like they are poison. Because they are, if you are diabetic.
While some fats are bad, all are not. You can and must eat fat to keep your diet balanced. The only thing is the fat has to be from sources like olive or canola oils. Limit your fat ingestion to around 30 per cent (or less) of your calorie intake.
It is important to recognise the foods that could send your sugar levels shooting up and limit them, if you cannot cut them out completely. Cut down on the carbs. Limit fruits and cut out fruit juices. Those pulpy fruits like mangoes and jackfruits contain high levels of sugar. Keep your food whole: whole grains, whole fruit, lots of vegetables, pulses and low fat milk. Get toned milk. Boil it, let it cool and remove the creamy layer from the top before pouring yourself a glass or making curds. Fifty per cent of your calories must come from those wholesome carbohydrates. Meals must be properly spaced out to small, frequent portions to keep sugar levels under control. The gap between meals should never be more than five hours. Whole foods provide your body with fibre, which slows down the hunger pangs and also eases the passage through the alimentary canal. Foods to include in your daily diet include spinach, broccoli, cucumber, egg plant, greens, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum (in all colours), radish and peas with their pods, among others. Basically the food has to be non-starchy.
You could eat nuts like almonds, but just a handful. Studies conducted in the U.K. show that they do indeed help people with type 2 diabetes.
A walk a day will keep you in shape and help control weight, along with improved energy levels and endorphins. Make it brisk, and keep the pace up for at least 30 minutes. Remember to warm up, cool down and stretch.
● Get your weight under control.
● Work out every day.
● Eat small portions more frequently.
● Limit your fat intake.
● Cut down on the carbs.
● Go easy on fruits and fruit juice.
● Opt for whole grains and lots of vegetables.