The moment your fasting blood sugar crosses the 120 mg/dl mark, your heart starts beating faster, worrying that you may be in the prediabetic range. You make efforts to curb this and keep your blood sugar under control. You avoid sugar for some days, stay away from chocolates and ice-creams. Gradually, the enthusiasm slows down and you are back into the craving cycle.
After a few months, you think about reviewing your fasting sugar again -- this time to your surprise, it crosses 130mg/dl. Then you visit your doctor and he gives you another chance to change your lifestyle before he puts you on medication. The visit is followed by serious advice from friends, family and too much information puzzles you.
If you are a diabetic or have recently witnessed high fasting blood sugar values, please try to make healthy food choices. The food list of a diabetic should be planned very carefully.
Here are 7 healthy food choices for a diabetic suggested by an expert:
1. Complex carbohydrates: We hear about choosing complex grains like barley and buckwheat (kuttu) or adding bran to our wheat flour -- this is because these flours take longer to digest and do not convert to sugar fast. For a diabetic choosing the complex carbohydrates is of utmost importance. This is because this food group forms the major part of our diet.
Complex carbohydratesare not only about modifying the chapatti but also about changing our breads and cookies. We need to understand that all these constitute our carbohydrate intake as well. Limit the unnecessary intake of those packs of cookies!
2. Proteins: Having a protein at each meal as advocated by Metabolic Balance, a German innovated nutrition programme, plays an important role in maintaining the blood sugar values. Proteins, like dal, paneer, curd, egg, chicken, fish and nuts not only work as building blocks and give us satiety (feeling of fullness) but they play a major role in lowering the glycemic load of the meal (Glycemic load of the meal is the measure of the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal). This means that food is digested slower because of the presence of protein, it’s turning to sugar is slow and thus the risk of fluctuating blood sugar values is lowered.
Metabolic Balance also recommends having only one protein at a time as it makes the protein easy to digest and does not cause acidity. This means, that we should avoid having pulses (dal) and curd at the same meal. When having curd, let there be vegetable and chapatti and not another protein.
3. Fats: Being a diabetic does not mean that you stop taking fats or start cooking in drops of oil. Besides giving the food a wonderful taste, fats work to give us satiety, which is crucial for our brain to understand. Once full, only then do we understand not to eat any more. Without this feeling of satisfaction, we end up eating much more than required.
Moderate amounts of fats and oils such as virgin olive, mustard, canola, groundnut, rice bran and ghee should be used in our diet. We should try to have a good balance of omega-3 to omega-6 which can be achieved by using different oils during the day. For example, you may put olive oil over your salad, cook your dry vegetable like okra (bhindi) in mustard oil and give a ghee tempering to your dal.
4. Vegetables: These should be one of the major parts included in a diabetic food list. Taking 4-5 servings of vegetables or salads will help keep the sugar levels under control. An easy way to manage the meal is to keep your cereal amount in moderation and fill your stomach with vegetables to have a good portion of complex carbohydrates.
Please understand that vegetables like potato and colocasia are counted as starches or carbohydrates. Thus, have them in lesser quantities or reduce your cereal portion (chapatti or bread) to compensate.
5. Fruits: A diabetic can also take at least 1-2 fruits in a day, if he is able to manage his insulin levels with a balanced diet of complex cereals, vegetables, proteins and adequate fats. The fruit may be taken after the meal as advocated by the Metabolic Balance programme – this is because we long for something sweet after our meal and a balanced meal will ensure that our fruit does not spike our sugar levels.
However, diabetics should avoid having too many different fruits at one time -- like having a fruit salad. They should have moderate amounts of one fruit at a time -- like having a medium sized apple or pear or 200g of papaya. Diabetics should avoid fruit juices as they simply raise the blood sugar levels.
6.Water: The chief nutrient of our diet is usually forgotten. All of us need to understand that our body needs water to keep the metabolism in balance and to remove the toxins. Try to understand your thirst and do not always confuse it with hunger.
Most of the times we eat, we could have well managed with a glass of water. The colour of your urine is a clear indicator of the dehydration. The darker it is, the lesser water you have had, and you need to drink more water. However, diabetics with kidney issues need to take their doctor’s advice about water.
7. Avoid excessive tea and coffee: Having more than 2-3 cups of tea or coffee in a day may disturb the body’s metabolism and dehydrate you.
Defeating diabetes is not difficult. We can easily reverse diabetes if we make healthy food choices and exercise (breathing and physical) an important part of our regime. If you are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic or even a diabetic, you should not panic but try to take positive steps to curb the disease and not let yourself get drowned by its effects. A diabetic should follow their food chart to stay safe.
-- Article by Taranjeet Kaur, Certified Metabolic Balance Coach & Senior Nutritionist- AktivHealth