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Live Healthy with Diabetes

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  • Live Healthy with Diabetes

    Live Healthy with Diabetes

    Written by Neha Chandna - Dietician, Nutrition Educator, Exercise Counselor with an M.Sc. in Dietetics and Food Service Management from SVT. She has worked with corporates such as HDFC and Standard Chartered as well as BPOs and MNCs on the Right ways of eating and living!

    In India, the prevalence of diabetes is spreading like fire. Every second person you come across is a pre diabetic or diabetic or definitely has a family history of diabetes. And it is a common notion that diabetics are not allowed to enjoy all the good food around and have to stick to a boring eating regime. But the good news is that just with a few lifestyle changes you can actually control the progression of diabetes and live a normal life like just like anyone else.

    Small changes= great results: Studies have found that the major reason for diabetes besides genetics is a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle pattern which leads to obesity and high body fat percentage. This fat can affect the body's response to insulin. Research suggests that people who are at risk of diabetes, by reducing weight and body fat percentage can prevent or delay the onset of this condition. But most importantly one has to lose weight in a correct manner and not by drastic means.

    There is no single diabetes diet plan. Every diabetic has a different body weight, sugar levels and complications which need to be dealt with individually. But the food options remain the same:

    Total calories: With everyone leading a sedentary lifestyle these days, consuming 25-30kcal/kg body weight/day is enough to meet your caloric needs without adding unwanted weight on you.

    Carbohydrates: about 50-60% of total calories should come from carbs but the quality you choose is very important.

    Opt for low GI fiber rich complex carbs like whole grains, oats, quinoa, bran, jowar, ragi, brown rice, pulses, sprouts etc which can help you meet your daily fiber intake of 25-30gm.

    Fruits and vegetables are also fibrous carbs loaded with vitamins and minerals and other health promoting nutrients.

    Avoid simple carbs like white flour, rice, sugar, bakery products, sweets, pizzas, burgers etc. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream preventing spike in your blood sugar levels whereas simple carbs load your blood with sugar making diabetes worse.

    Proteins: 15-20% of total calories should come from proteins. The RDA for a normal person with no kidney dysfunction is 1gm/kg body weight. Include good quality proteins like low fat milk and milk products, eggs, chicken, fish, soya etc. for normal bone and muscle function.

    Fats: not more than 20-25% of total calories should come from fat as diabetics are at a higher risk of heart problems. Not all fats are bad. There are good and bad fats. The bad ones are saturated fats and trans-fats found in ghee, butter, baked food, red, whole milk, fried foods, ready to eat foods etc and the good ones are plant oils like rice bran oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, groundnut oil etc and fish, flaxseeds and walnuts which contain omega 3 fatty acid. Omega 3 fatty acid helps to fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.

    Sodium: diabetics are also at a higher risk of high blood pressure hence shouls restrict their sodium intake to not more than 1tsp salt/day and avoid all processed foods as they are very high in sodium.

    Magnesium: Research indicates that magnesium-rich diets may help lower type 2 diabetes risk. Whole grain breads and cereals, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and soybeans), and certain fruits and vegetables (such as spinach, avocados, and beans) are excellent dietary sources of magnesium.

    General tips:

    Do not skip breakfast as after a 12 hour fast, the blood sugar levels drop drastically in the morning and can hypoglycemic stage. A good high carb and protein breakfast like oatmeal porridge, egg sandwich etc can steady your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

    Eat 6 small meals rather than 3 large ones as large meals cause a sugar load in the body increasing blood sugar levels and also cause overeating in the next meal due to long time gap. Regular small meals can provide energy without affecting blood sugar drastically.

    Avoid carbonated beverages, fruit juices and flavoured drinks due to their high sugar content. Drink sparkling soda with lime juice, jaljeera, herbal teas or eat fruits rather.

    Use sweetners in moderation. Sucralose is the most preferred sweetner.