Nutrition Education plays a very important role for Diabetics because it is a lifelong disorder. Diabetes can be prevented / controlled by eating right with healthy lifestyle changes!
In order to enable a Diabetic to lead a healthy and good quality lifestyle, free from complications, adequate information about diet & knowledge about insulin and drugs are very important.
As a Doctor and a Dietitian, I counsel a lot of diabetic patients who come to me for dietary advice.
I believe that Diabetics can enjoy their meals, the key is to balance their diet.
A common factor among diabetics is their misconceptions linked with their food habits. Certain queries are very common for diabetic patients, like-
- Can you eat rice if you are Diabetic?
Freshly cooked rice has higher Glycemic Index (GI), which means that it raises the blood sugar level quickly. But rice, when cooled, develops resistant starch, meaning it does not get digested quickly.
Hence, cooled rice can definitely be eaten in moderation by diabetics.
- Will eating Fruit increase my Sugar?
Fruits and vegetables are regulatory foods, meaning they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Except for some high GI fruits (which also can be consumed in moderation), fruits should be consumed daily by diabetics to combat nutritional deficiencies.
- Should I be avoiding Desserts?
Diabetics can enjoy desserts occasionally if they combine it with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Can I eat whatever I want, and then compensate it by medicine?Carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose. Even when you are on medications, over-eating just simple carbohydrates can cause the rise of blood glucose levels over the recommended target. You need to control what you eat. You need to regularly follow the diet plan. You cannot use medicine to compensate for over-eating. The key is a balanced diet.
- Will it help if I eat food high on protein?
Too much protein from an animal source may actually cause insulin resistance, a key factor in Diabetics. The excess protein is converted into fat and it affects the renal functions. So it is important to follow the recommended daily allowances of protein, even from the plant sources.
- Should I avoid milk and milk products, as they are high in fat?
For vegetarians, milk and milk products are excellent sources of calcium and protein. Hence low-fat milk and milk products or cow milk without cream should definitely be included in your diet.
- Should I avoid nuts as I am overweight, as it can lead to weight gain?
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which fights inflammation and supports the brain the heart health. Hence these nuts, in moderation, should definitely be a part of your diet.
- If I feast on one day, and to keep sugar in check, can I fast the next day?
A regular eating pattern helps to regularize blood sugar levels. Try to eat roughly the same amount of calories every day. So, fasting and feasting is to be avoided.
For overweight diabetics, the most important lifestyle change required is to lose weight. Losing just 5% to 10% of body weight can help lower blood sugar considerably.
Weight loss is achieved by making healthy eating choices and exercising regularly.
A diabetes diet is a healthy eating plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat & moderate in calories. It is balanced in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals & vitamins.
- Carbohydrates have a big impact on the blood-sugar level, hence the type of carbohydrate selected is crucial to keep the sugar levels even. Focus on high-fiber options like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, oats, etc.
- To recall, the Glycemic Index (GI) tells us how quickly the food raises the blood sugar in our system. High GI foods are low in fiber and protein. Some high GI foods are white rice, white pasta, white bread, sweets, chips and many other processed foods & sugary drinks.
- Studies show that eating too much animal protein may actually cause insulin resistance, which is a key factor in Diabetes. Plant-based proteins are the best bets. Low-fat milk & milk products, sprouts, lentils, beans, pulses & nuts should be included according to the daily recommended allowances.
- The best fats are unsaturated fats, which come from plant & fish sources, and are liquid at room temperature.
- Fruits and vegetables are regulatory foods with nutrients and vitamins. Except for some high GI fruit (banana, mango, etc), fruit should be consumed daily by diabetics to combat the nutritional deficiencies.
- start their day with a good breakfast.
- eat regular small meals.
- adjust the number of carbohydrates in their meals based on the type of insulin prescribed, taking the help of a dietician.
- not exercise on an empty stomach, or when the sugar levels are very high.
Cooking methods are also very important in order to preserve the nutrients in food.
Diabetics can definitely enjoy their meals by balancing their diet, eating in moderation, choosing the right cooking method and exercising regularly.