Diabetes has become one of the most common diseases in the modern word. Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is the main reason for the increase in number of patients. In diabetic patients the hormone insulin will not be either synthesized in right amount or might not function properly. This finally leads to elevated blood glucose or blood sugar level. Healthy way of eating is the key step to prevent and control diabetes. The diabetic patients should eat moderately at a regular meal time. They should also practice a regular exercise plan as it helps in burning calories, improves circulation and helps in normal functioning of the hormone insulin.
What to Eat
To maintain a normal blood sugar level, the diabetic patients should make healthy food choices. The nutritional requirements of diabetic patients are same as others. Thus the diabetic patients can have same food as consumed by others but should carefully monitor the intake of carbohydrate which has a great influence on blood sugar level. Along with carbohydrate, the intake of protein and fats should also be monitored. Following tips regarding the diet should be kept in mind by the diabetic patients:
- Eat a balanced diet which contains variety of foods.
- Eat right amount of calorie. Excess calorie may lead to over weight which reduces the sensitivity to insulin. So avoid junk foods containing high calorie.
- Include carbohydrate in each meal and try to spread these dietary carbohydrates through out the day. This helps in preventing high and low blood sugar level.
- Avoid refined and simple carbohydrates like table sugar, glucose, honey, corn syrup, white rice etc. Make right choice of carbohydrate. Eat brown rice instead of white, avoid processed cereals or instant oatmeal and instead have steel-cut oats, eat whole grains instead of refined ones. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin etc. can also be used but should be bothered about the carbohydrates present in them.
- Include food items rich in unsaturated fats like fish, sunflower oil, cotton seed oil, safflower oil, corn, pea nut oil, avocado, hazel nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds etc.
- Food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids like flax seeds, flax seed oil, walnut, walnut oil, olive oil, fatty fishes like tuna, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardine, etc should be included in diet. Also include food items rich in omega-6 fatty acid like wheat germ oil, almonds etc in the diet. Care should be taken to maintain the ratio between omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the range 2:1 -4:1.
- Limit the intake of saturated fats and trans fats which may increase the risk of cardiac disease. Food items rich in saturated fats include hard margarine, whole milk, coconut, fats present in pork, beef and lamb, chips, fried foods etc. And the food items rich in trans fat include cakes, candies, chocolate drinks, fried foods like pizza, French fries etc.
- Protein containing foods should also be included in diet. Apart from its nutritive value protein also helps in controlling the hunger between meals. Protein rich foods include fishes, egg, lentils, beans, low fat cottage cheese, nuts etc.
- Try to avoid alcoholic drinks as much as possible. Alcoholic drinks might interfere with the action of some diabetes medications. Alcohols also behave like simple carbohydrates and may destabilize the blood sugar level.
- Intake of sodium in diet should be reduced. So try to avoid canned foods, pickles, soy sauce, etc.
- Avoid deep frying instead choose grilling, baking, broiling, stir frying etc.
- For snacks in between the meals prefer seeds like pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans instead of chips, crackers etc.
- Include fruits in your diet. Fruits are rich source of vitamins and fibers. Fruits good for diabetic patients are guavas, apples, papayas, strawberries, grape fruit etc. the fruits that should be avoided are bananas, grapes, dates, watermelon, jack fruit, mango etc.
- Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, pees, beans, in the diet. Vegetables good for diabetic patients are cabbage, lettuce, spinach, onion, garlic, bitter gourd, tomatoes etc.
- Drink plenty of water. Drink at least 8 – 10 glasses of water daily.
- Avoid soft drinks, sodas etc and instead mineral water.
When to Eat
- The diabetic patients should always maintain a regular mealtime and snack time which helps in maintaining a constant blood sugar level.
- Eating at regular interval also helps in controlling the hunger and there by prevents the tendency of overeating at next meal.
- Do not skip meals.
How Much To Eat
- The diabetic patients should include three regular sized meals per day and can have up to two snacks as required.
- Do not skip meals as it might lead to over eating at next meal and there by cause elevation in blood sugar level.
Thus with a healthy eating procedure combined with regular exercise and proper medication the complications of diabetes can be kept under check. Consult a dietitian or diabetic educator who can develop a personalized meal plan according to your life style, physical activity and that meets your medication.