Diet is the mainstay of Diabetes management. Your blood glucose often depends on what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat. Most people with Diabetes are recommended an average daily diet of approximately 1200-1500 kilo calories. A kilo calorie (kcal) is a unit of measurement that measures energy. 100 kilo calories indicate the amount of energy your body will get when that particular food or drink is consumed. Usually, nutritionists suggest that about 60 per cent of calories must come from carbohydrates, 30 per cent from fat and the rest from proteins.
Therefore, carbohydrates are by no means banned in Diabetes. They can be consumed, albeit in moderation. Indeed, an occasional sweet is not forbidden in people with well controlled Diabetes. The operational word is, however, ‘occasional’!
Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are the important nutrients in your meal. Amongst these, carbohydrates have the maximum impact on your blood sugar. Even though carbs affect blood glucose, people with Diabetes should not avoid them. Carbs are the body’s most preferred source of energy. Carbs should account for 50-60 per cent of daily calorie intake. However it is the quality of carbohydrates that matters. Instead of simple carbs (sugar, honey, fruit juices, cakes, candies, cookies, etc.) complex carb (whole wheat products, fruits and vegetables) with fibre should make up the bulk of diabetic diet. The presence of adequate carbohydrates is both tasteful and brings in a feeling of fullness.
Protein foods (lean meats, fish, low fat dairy foods, pulses and legumes) can be included with most meals and snacks. They have very little effect on blood glucose. Proteins should make 15 per cent of daily calories.
Fats delay the rise in blood sugar, after eating, as they slow down stomach emptying. Fat intake should account for 20-25 per cent of total daily calorie intake. People with Diabetes have an increased risk of heart diseases, therefore it is imperative for them to choose healthier fats and limit the intake of high fat foods. New research says that healthy fats may be consumed in moderate amounts. Fat intake brings in satiety. However while fat intake is not banned, it is true that some fats are ‘bad’. Processed ready-to-eat and crisp bites contain a type of fat called trans-fat that are invariably damaging to the body. Eat as little trans fat as possible by limiting fried foods and checking labels for 0 grams of trans fat.
Vitamins and minerals help the body to work properly. Fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) are mainly found in animal fats, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish. Water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B, C and folic acid) are mainly found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk and dairy foods. Minerals are necessary for building strong bones and teeth, controlling body fluids inside and outside cells and turning the food you eat into energy. Minerals include calcium and iron amongst many others and are found in meat, cereals, fish, milk and dairy foods, fruit and vegetables and nuts.
Hence, by no means should the diet be monotonous. Indeed a balanced diet with carbs, fats and proteins is desirable. Spices and condiments may be added to make food tasty. While reheated oils and trans fats are best avoided, adequate intake of healthy fats will make food nourishing and tasty, yet healthy too!
List of Good Carbs
- Oats, wheat, roti or bread made from whole-wheat flour and brown rice
- Beans, peas, soybeans
- Oranges, grapefruits, apples, pears
- Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
- Low-fat yogurt, one-per cent milk and low-fat cottage cheese
- White bread, white rice, pasta, noodles,
- Fruit juice, fizzy drinks, sherbets
- Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, potatoes, and lentils
- Sugar, jam, honey, sweet puddings, jelly
- Cakes, pastries, biscuits, pizza
Olive or canola oil, rice bran, groundnut, mustard, safflower, soybean cooking oils, small portion of nuts like walnuts, pistachios, almonds, egg whites and fish
Vanaspati, fats in whole milk, butter, cheese, creamy sauces, high fat meats (mutton, poultry with skin, sausages) palm oil, coconut oil, processed foods.