What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where the body’s ability to absorb glucose from the blood is compromised. The pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or the body is not able to use the insulin produced. This leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is broken down by insulin to release energy required by the body.
It is estimated that 60 million people of age 20-79 live with diabetes in India. This number is expected to increase to 100 million by 2030. A large number of the population is prediabetic.
Keeping these facts in mind it is important to know about the right diet for diabetic patients. Ayurvedic medicines for diabetes can work wonders when it comes to controlling blood sugar levels.
Who are diabetics?
People suffering from diabetes are generally called diabetics. They have to take care of their diet plan and overall health all the time.
What is a diet plan for diabetics?
A diabetes diet plan is nothing complicated. In simple words, it just means eating the healthiest foods in moderate amounts and at regular intervals. It is a healthy eating plan that is naturally rich in nutrients. It should be low on fats and calories.
Why do you need to develop a healthy eating plan?
A diabetes diet is recommended for diabetic patients, people who are prediabetic, or if anyone just wants to lose some weight. You can meet a good dietitian or a nutritionist who will chalk out a diet plan according to your needs.
Diabetes in the long run is harmful to various organs like the heart, kidneys, and even nerve damage. A specific diet plan helps you control your blood sugar and manage your weight.
What does a diabetes diet involve?
A diabetes diet includes eating three meals a day at regular times. When you eat food systematically, it helps your body to better utilize the insulin that your body produces or it gets through medication.
You can consult a dietitian who will help you by making a diet plan according to your taste, preferences, and goals. They can advise you about your eating habits such as choosing portion sizes. A dietitian will also keep in mind your size and your activity level.
Types of diet plans
Their can be a variety of diet plans for diabetics to follow from. But here we will be discussing about three types of diet plan. They are:
The Mediterranean diet
Vegetarian and vegan diet
The Mediterranean diet:
This diet is inspired by traditional foods from the Mediterranean. Countries like Greece, Italy, and Morocco usually consume this type of diet. This type of diet is rich in fatty acids that are found in naturally in animals. Oleic acid is also present in a Mediterranean diet. Vegetable based oils and fats are also present.
This diet includes foods like:
Protein: poultry, salmon, other fatty fish, and eggs.
Plant based foods: fruits, vegetables like artichokes, cucumbers, beans, nuts and seeds.
Healthy fats: olive oil, nuts such as almond.
The Paleolithic diet:
This diet is based on the belief that anything processed is bad for health. The reason for chronic diseases is processed food according to this Paleolithic diet. People following this diet eat only what our ancestors could hunt or gather.
Food items that you can eat are:
Protein: meat, poultry, and fish
Plant based foods: non-starchy vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.
Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil.
Vegetarian and vegan diets:
A vegetarian or vegan diet is also known to be of benefit for diabetics. These diets are known to reduce weight, fasting glucose, and waist circumference. A vegetarian diet includes eating vegetables only and no meat of any kind. In a vegetarian diet, you can include animal products like eggs, milk, butter, honey, and so on. Vegan diets do not include any kind of animal product.
Vegetarian and vegan diets include food items like:
dark, leafy vegetables
Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy to follow, but one can miss out on vital nutrients when following such diets. People following these diets may need nutrients through supplements. These supplements include:
Calcium: Calcium is found largely in animal products like dairy. Calcium is a vital nutrient that contributes to healthy teeth and bones. Vegetarian and vegan diets provide some amount of calcium but the body needs more. Fortified Soy milk can provide calcium.
Iodine: Iodine is mainly found in seafood and is required for metabolizing food into energy. Vegetarian and vegan diets lack iodine. Iodised salt provides most of the iodine that the body needs. Too much iodine can damage your thyroid.
B12: Only animal products contain this vitamin. If one is following a strict vegetarian and vegan diet then they will need supplements to fulfill this lack of B12.
Zinc: The main source of zinc comes from animal products. Vegetarians and vegans will need supplements to fulfill their need for zinc. Beans, lentils, and whole grains are good sources of zinc.
These are a few diet plans that one can follow to maintain their blood glucose levels. But if you want to maintain your glucose level for a lifetime then you need to follow some steps. They are:
Keeping track of your carb intake and setting a limit for each meal will help your blood glucose levels. Keeping your carbs in check with a proper diet plan will help diabetics in the long run.
The plate method
The plate method is a simple way of counting calories. You can eat more without realizing the fact that you are eating more. Take a smaller plate than usual. Usually, a 9-inch dinner plate is recommended.
Fill half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, broccoli, etc.
One-quarter of the plate should have lean protein like chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, or eggs.
One-quarter of the plate should have carb foods. Carb-rich foods include grains, starchy vegetables, rice, pasta, fruits, and yogurt. Milk is also a carb food.
Hydrating yourself should be an ideal part of your diet.
Know about portion sizes
Portion and serving sizes are two different things. The amount of food you eat at one time is a portion. While a serving is a specific amount of food. Studies suggest that people eat more when they are served more food. Hence, getting portions under control is important to control your weight and blood glucose levels. Avoid eating straight from the box or bag.
One should know what to eat and what not to eat. Many times people are unaware of the food items that can help them in their health journey. Here we have given some information about the foods that one can eat:
In the digestion process, sugar and starches break down into blood glucose. You can focus on healthy carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes such as beans and peas. Low-fat dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Fiber helps your body digest food and also controls blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber is a type of fiber that comes from plants. The body cannot absorb or digest these high-fiber foods. Fiber-rich foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
Non-vegetarians can eat heart-healthy fish twice a week. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are some examples of heart-healthy fish. Avoid eating fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury.
Foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower your blood cholesterol levels. Some examples are avocado, nuts, canola, and peanut oil.
Foods to avoid
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries. One should avoid the following foods:
One should avoid high-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as butter, beef, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon. Also, you should limit coconut and palm kernel oils.
Processed snacks, baked goods, shortening, and stick margarine all have trans fat. One should avoid them.
High-fat dairy products, high-fat animal protein, egg yolks, liver, and other organ meats are all sources of cholesterol. One should not take 200 milligrams of cholesterol in a day.
One should strive for less than 2300mg of sodium a day. If you are suffering from high BP then you should have even less.
Know about Glycemic index
People with diabetes sometimes use the Glycemic index to select food especially carbohydrates. Talk with your dietitian who can help you with the same.
Results of following a diet plan in diabetes
A healthy plan keeps your blood glucose level under control. It also helps in losing weight. A generous number of fruits and vegetables and fiber reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.
Following these plans will help you in the long run. But a mix of diet and exercise is recommended for better results. At least 40 minutes of any form of physical activity is recommended for diabetics.