Why is diet important in diabetes?
Diet is important because it is the most important part of diabetes treatment. Many people need to change what they eat and how much they eat to help treat their diabetes. It is important for people to treat their diabetes so that they:
- Maintain their ideal body weight.
- Keep their blood sugar at or near a normal level
- Prevent long-term problems, such as heart or kidney problems, that can happen in people with diabetes
Changing your diet can also help treat obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These conditions can affect people with diabetes and can lead to future problems, such as heart attacks or strokes.
What foods help to maintain sugar levels for diabetic patients?
- No specific food improves your sugars rather following a healthy meal plan helps you manage diabetes.
- What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are all important in keeping your blood glucose level in the range that your health care team recommends.
- You may be worried that having diabetes means going without foods you enjoy however the good news is that you can still eat your favourite foods, but you might need to eat smaller portions or enjoy them less often.
- Your health care team will help create a diabetes meal plan for you that meets your needs and likes.
- The key to eating with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan outlines.
What are the common Do’s and Don’ts in Diabetes with respect to food?
- Diet plan should be balanced and individualized.
- The calculated caloric requirement should allow the patient to lose or gain weight as
- Required and maintain body weight close to the ideal/ desirable body weight.
- Restrict refined and starchy food items such as maida, rava, white bread, potatoes, other tubers, processed foods and meats.
- Include loads of vegetables and 1 or 2 helpings of fruits such as oranges, papaya etc.
- Sweet tasting fruits need to be restricted for eg: chickoo, sweet bananas, mangoes
- Include mainly high fibre foods (whole grains, pulses, and all green vegetables).
- Daily fibre intake should be at least 20-35 g. Fibre helps to reduce postprandial blood glucose levels and blood cholesterol.
- Avoid trans fats such as margarine and dalda/vanaspati
- Maintain a small food diary. Keep track of all the food you eat in a day. You will be amazed at the amount and type of food you eat.
- An obese patient should restrict calories through reduction in the intake of carbohydrate and fat.
- Ensure that food is eaten not only at the appropriate time but also in appropriate amounts.
- Always read labels and select foods that are low in fat, salt, sugars.
- Try and Include salads in lunch and dinner.
- Avoid Table salt and restrict use of processed foods.
- Check your eyes, cholesterol levels, kidney and liver function tests at least once a year and whenever your doctor advices you.
- Check your feet daily at the end of the day and watch for any cuts and wounds.
- Exercise regularly. Discuss the best possible exercise regime suited for your comorbidities and lifestyle with your doctor’s help.
- Patients who are on insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs should not fast or skip meals because it may result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
- Do not eat white bread, chips, and pastries, which quickly increase blood sugar.
- Avoid processed foods and meats as they will be rich in salt and oil.
- Restrict fried and fatty foods.
- Alcohol increases blood pressure and triglycerides and heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). In excess, it affects the liver and peripheral nerves.
- Do not use artificial sweeteners beyond the recommended quantity. If possible get used to tea/coffee without sugar gradually.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not miss your medication.