Live Healthy with Diabetes

In India, the prevalence of diabetes is spreading like fire. Every second person you come across is a pre diabetic or diabetic or definitely has a family history of diabetes. And it is a common notion that diabetics are not allowed to enjoy all the good food around and have to stick to a boring eating regime or diet food. But the good news is that just with a few lifestyle changes you can actually control the progression of diabetes and live a normal life like just like anyone else.

There is no single diabetes diet plan. Every diabetic would have a different body weight, sugar levels and complications which need to be dealt individually. But the food options remain same.

Total calories: With everyone leading a sedentary lifestyle these days, consuming 25-30kcal/kg body weight/day is enough to meet your caloric needs without adding unwanted weight on you.
Carbohydrates: about 50-60% of total calories should come from carbs but the quality you choose is very important. Opt for low GI fiber rich complex carbs like whole grains, oats, quinoa, bran, jowar, ragi, brown rice, pulses, sprouts etc which can help you meet your daily fiber intake of 25-30gm. Fruits and vegetables are also fibrous carbs loaded with vitamins and minerals and other health promoting nutrients. Avoid simple carbs like white flour, rice, sugar, bakery products, sweets, pizzas, burgers etc. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream preventing spike in your blood sugar levels whereas simple carbs load your blood with sugar making diabetes worse.
Proteins: 15-20% of total calories should come from proteins. The RDA for a normal person with no kidney dysfunction is 1gm/kg body weight. Include good quality proteins like low fat milk and milk products, eggs, chicken, fish, soya etc. for normal bone and muscle function.
Fats: not more than 20-25% of total calories should come from fat as diabetics are at a higher risk of heart problems. Not all fats are bad. There are good and bad fats. The bad ones are saturated fats and trans fats found in ghee, butter, baked food, red, whole milk, fried foods, ready to eat foods etc and the good ones are plant oils like ricebran oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, groundnut oil etc and fish, flaxseeds and walnuts which contain omega 3 fatty acid. Omega 3 fatty acid helps to fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.
Sodium: diabetics are also at a higher risk of high blood pressure hence shouls restrict their sodium intake to not more than 1tsp salt/day and avoid all processed foods as they are very high in sodium.
Magnesium: Research indicates that magnesium-rich diets may help lower type 2 diabetes risk. Whole grain breads and cereals, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and soybeans), and certain fruits and vegetables (such as spinach, avocados, and beans) are excellent dietary sources of magnesium.

General tips:

Do not skip breakfast as after a 12 hour fast, the blood sugar levels drop drastically in the morning and can hypoglycemic stage. A good high carb and protein breakfast like oatmeal porridge, egg sandwich etc can steady your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Eat 6 small meals rather than 3 large ones as large meals cause a sugar load in the body increasing blood sugar levels and also cause overeating in the next meal due to long time gap. Regular small meals can provide energy without affecting blood sugar drastically.
Limit alcohol consumption to not more than 1 drink per day as it is empty calories and causes sugar spikes in the blood. Make sure to eat something like salads, peanuts, roasted chana kurmuta etc along with the drink to slow down alcohol absorption.
Avoid carbonated beverages, fruit juices and flavoured drinks due to their high sugar content. Drink sparkling soda with lime juice, jaljeera, herbal teas or eat fruits rather.
Use sweetners in moderation. Sucralose is the most preferred sweetner.

Exercise guidelines:

Make sure you exercise atleast 4-5 times/week to help you get your blood sugars in control.
You can choose moderate exercises like aerobics, brisk walking, weight training, swimming, dancing etc.
Check your blood sugar at home before and after exercise. Avoid exercise if blood sugars are too high or too low. If you are on insulin, modify your carb intake before and after exercise depending on your sugars.
Eat a complex carb snack like sandwich, wrap, oats etc 1 hour before you do any activity.
Eat immediately after exercise to avoid fall of blood sugar.
Carry sugar tablets or glucose water with you incase of emergency hypoglycemia.
Avoid exercise in case of severe complications like kidney problems, nerve problems or wounds.

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