Effective diabetic management requires a healthy lifestyle which should include a balanced diet, regular exercise and sensible weight control.
Eating right is vital if you’re trying to prevent or control diabetes. A healthy diet for diabetes contains carbohydrates, protein and fats. Our body needs all three to function properly. The key is a balanced diet.
Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels—more so than fats and proteins—but you don’t have to avoid them.
The serving size and type of carbohydrate you eat are especially important.
What you need to know to prevent and manage diabetes
What you eat
• Eat grains in the least processed state possible, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley or traditionally processed grains such as bulgur.
• Consume non-starchy vegetables, beans & fruits since they are a good source of fiber and they are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even.
• Eat protein at most meals – the best options are fish, skinless chicken and beans.
• Select foods with healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and avocado.
• Limit saturated fat and completely eliminate trans fats, which are mostly found in bakery goods, fast foods and packaged foods.
• Opt for full-fat dairy products Buy unsweetened and add sweeteners or fruit yourself. This is because fat slows down the digestive process, meaning blood sugar levels don’t spike as quickly.
• That doesn’t mean, however, that you should reach for the donuts. Snack smartly. Think healthy, such as peanut butter, ricotta cheese, yogurt or some nuts.
How you eat
• Have three meals and two snacks each day and don’t skip breakfast.
• Eat slowly. Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to flavors and texture. You will enjoy it more, plus you’re less likely to overeat.
• Replace soft-drinks, energy drinks, soda, and juice with water these drinks are loaded with sugars. Even calorie-free drinks contain unhealthy sweeteners.
• Check food labels to spot added sugar Aside from obvious ones- sugar, honey and molasses, added sugar can appear as cane syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, dextrose, maltose’ and more.
• Indulge sensibly; Eat a small portion of sweets with a meal, rather than as a stand-alone snack. When eaten on their own, sweets and desserts cause your blood sugar to spike. But if you eat them along with other healthy foods as part of your meal, your blood sugar won’t rise as rapidly. However, diabetics need to check with their physician before having sweets.
• Eat at regular, set times and keep your portions in check. Regulating the amount of calories you eat on a day-to-day basis has an impact on the regularity of your blood sugar levels. Aim for moderate and consistent portion sizes for each meal or snack and maintain a regular meal schedule.
• Keep a food diary it helps you identify problem areas. It also increases your awareness of what, why, and how much you’re eating, which helps you to be in discipline.
• Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity means better control on your sugar levels. You don’t have to become a gym rat or adopt a grueling fitness regimen. One of the easiest ways is to start walking for 30 minutes five or more times a week. You can also do swimming, biking or any other activity that interests you.
Information courtesy Archana Arora, Senior Dietician.
Consult your physician before opting for a diet/exercise regimen