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.
While making a diet plan, you should keep the following points in mind:
- Calorie intake– It is essential for you to take a well-balanced diet (i.e. the diet which provides just enough calories to maintain ideal body-weight). Since obesity is an independent risk factor for diabetes and its complications, reduce your calorie (food) intake in order to achieve the ideal body weight. Once ideal body weight is attained then all efforts would be concentrated on maintaining this weight.
In diabetes, it is advisable to take small frequent meals. This reduces the chances of sudden high or low blood sugar levels. Your meal plan should include 3 main meals with 3-4 snacks per day. Never skip or delay your meals. Fasting and crash dieting methods can be dangerous for diabetics.
Carbohydrates intake– Carbohydrates are the major source of energy in 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 insulin doses 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 (e.g. saccharin, aspartame) but their nutritive value (calories) must be kept in mind.
- Protein intake– Proteins are essential for growth, development and tissue repair. Some rich sources of protein are pulse, beans, cottage cheese, fish, egg, chicken, nuts, skimmed milk and milk based preparations.
People withkidney disease (nephropathy) should restrict their protein intake (you need to consult your doctor/nutritionist to know the exact protein allowance).
- Fat intake– They are the concentrated sources of energy. Proper selection of fats/oils sources is important in management of diabetics (especially obese).
All the vegetable oils (except coconut oil) are known to be beneficial and can be taken in moderate amount. You may use Sunflower, safflower, groundnut, mustard, corn, olive and palm oil in rotation.
Saturated fats (like ghee, butter) and hydrogenated fats (like dalda, vanaspati) should be avoided as they tend to accumulate in blood vessels hampering the blood flow. This may lead to serious complications in diabetes.
- Vitamins and 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– Avoid taking alcohol. Alcohol not only provides “empty” calories (which in turn can cause obesity) but also interacts with medications in diabetes causing frequent attacks of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).