Diet for Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes refers to the condition in which there is either absence or inefficient response of hormone insulin in the body.  This leads to increased blood sugar. There are several factors that increase the risk of diabetes, including:

  • Age above 45 years,
  • Individuals who have first degree relatives with diabetes,
  • Individuals with obesity,
  • Individuals with sedentary lifestyle,
  • Individuals with hypertension,
  • Individuals having HDL cholesterol level less than 35 mg/dl and/or triglyceride level exceeding 250 mg/dl.

What kind of diet is suitable for diabetics?

Your diet should be tailored according to your ideal body weight. Planning a diabetic diet essentially requires assessing of your total carbohydrate and calories intake. Secondarily, assessment of protein and fat intake proves to be beneficial.

Carbohydrates that we eat are the major contributors of glucose (sugar) in the body. These carbohydrates are of two types: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are the ones that are direct depots of sugar (for example, sugar) and complex carbohydrates are the ones which contain certain non-digestible components (unavailable carbohydrates or fibre) which have specific nutritive value. They help in reducing the blood the blood sugar and also cholesterol. Hence, it is vital to include fibrous foods in the diet in patients having diabetes. Their sources in food are vegetables mostly dark green leafy ones, fruits and unrefined cereals.

Along with a complex carbohydrate diet, it is important to reduce dietary fat consumption and improve dietary protein consumption. Sources of dietary cholesterol need to be limited like egg yolk, mutton, beef, pork, etc.

Which are the foods items that need to be restricted?

All the recipes containing sugar as the main ingredient should to be avoided, this includes all sweet like jalebi, rasagulla, sheera, shrikhand, kheer, laddoos, halwas, katlis, chikkis, etc desserts like chocolates, cakes, pastries, ice creams, juices, sherbats, milk shakes, etc. Jaggery or honey should not be used to replace sugar.

Are artificial sweeteners advisable? If yes, which type of sweeteners can be used?

Artificial sweeteners can be used in moderation. However, for young adults suffering from diabetes, it is advisable to use artificial sweeteners very sparingly.

Sweetners like saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, natural ones like stevia can be used, however, in restricted amounts.

Patients with early or late kidney disease should avoid acesulfame K as it contains potassium.

What are the further instructions that need to be followed to keep sugar under control?

  • Reduce the consumption of rice. Instead of white rice, brown rice should be preferred.
  • Do not sieve the wheat flour while kneading the dough.
  • Avoid the use of maida based products like like naan, biscuits, khari, puffs, cakes, pastries, noodles, pastas, donoughts, etc
  • It is advisable to include plenty of green leafy vegetables in the diet.
  • It is advisable to include dals and pulses with skin in the diet.
  • Avoid the use of root vegetables like potato, kand, suran, etc.
  • 1 fruit a day should be preferred. Reduce the intake of high calorie foods like mangoes, bananas, chickoo, sitaphal and grapes.
  • Avoid fruit juices.
  • Reduce the consumption of coconut (dry and fresh both) and groundnut in the diet.
  • Avoid dry fruits.
  • Amongst non-veg sources, strictly avoid mutton, beef, pork and egg yolk.
  • Egg whites- 1-2 per day can be consumed.
  • Fish / chicken – 3 small pcs twice a week can be taken, but in roasted or grilled or boiled form. Strictly avoid frying it.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages especially when you are on injection insulin.
  • Avoid smoking and/ or tobacco chewing.
  • Exercise daily for minimum 30 mins.

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