A healthy diet is necessary for any individual but for a diabetic; her diet takes on far more importance. All this is down to the a nifty scale called the Glycemic Index (GI) which measures the level of rise of blood sugar compared to glucose. The GI is a compilation of all kinds of foods compared to glucose and how it affects blood sugar levels. And while the method has its fair share of criticism, the fact is that it remains a pretty accurate guide for diabetics. Foods that are low in the GI chart (below 55) cause your blood glucose levels to rise slower which is suitable for diabetics. 56-69 is considered moderate whereas food with a GI score above 70 is considered high and should be avoided like the plague. But just eating low GI food isn’t enough. Here are ten dietary amendments for diabetics that will go in a long way helping them live with the disease.
- Thy shall eat fiber-rich food
The WHO recommends that one should eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables in a day. There’s a good reason for this, not only do these have all the necessary nutritional requirements, but these foods score very low on the GI chart. These include most fruits, non-starch vegetables (but do stay away from potatoes) and lentils. They help control your blood sugar levels and also keep other chronic conditions like hypertension, heart disease and stroke at bay!
- Thou shalt have small, frequently-spaced meals
Since the main agenda is to prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking suddenly, eating small, frequent meals opposed to three large ones is the order of the day. In fact, study after study, has shown that smaller meals will not only help keep your blood sugar levels in check, but also help a person lose weight in the long run.
- Thou shalt load up on complex carbs
Complex carbs have higher nutritional value thanks to the fact that they take longer to get broken down by the body. This doesn’t cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels when they’re consumed. Complex carbs are, usually, found in vegetables, whole-wheat bread, cereals, spinach, broccoli and other leguminous plants and veggies.
- Thou shalt always carry a healthy snack
The problem with an ailment like diabetes is one never knows when they can have hypoglycaemic episodes (low blood sugar). This is why it’s imperative that a diabetic always carry a healthy snack. Some useful options include nuts, almonds, sprouts, flaxseeds and multigrain bars.
- Thou shalt go green
Green is the magic color for diabetics. Green leafy vegetables are perfect, and even green tea provides a nutritional punch other beverages could never match. Since diabetics are often worried about keeping their sugar levels in check, green tea with its polyphenols and polysaccharides perform the task admirably. In fact, epigallocatechin gallete (EGCG), a compound present in green tea inhibits the production of glucose in the liver in turn lowering the blood sugar levels.
- Thou shalt say no to binge drinking
Heavy drinking leads to weight gain and obesity which raises your blood levels of triglycerides as well blood pressure levels – two conditions that are closely linked to diabetes. If you’re taking insulin or any other medicine that stimulates insulin production, binge drinking can lead to severe low blood sugar reactions. In fact, the greater the quantity of alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of hypoglycemia.
- Thou shalt cut down on artificial sugar
One of the primary reasons for the current obesity pandemic (which is causally linked to type 2 diabetes) is the gluttonous consumption of sugar around the globe. Of course, we can’t blame people for liking sugar since we’re evolutionarily geared to crave sugar. But the problem is that the evolutionary process probably didn’t factor in the Industrial Revolution which made it very easy to produce crystallized sugar that can be added to so many different kinds of foods. And it has in turn led to the global obesity epidemic. Most sugary food items like pastries or chocolates score very high on the GI chart and therefore it’s imperative to moderate or cut down their intake.
- Thou shalt monitor their salt intake
While salt consumption is synonymous with hypertension instead of diabetes, the fact remains that diabetics are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than non-diabetics. This is why diabetics should avoid packaged food items which pack a lot of salt like canned soups, ready-to-eat meals, canned veggies, cold cuts and salad dressings.
- Thou shalt avoid large meals
Maintaining regular blood sugar levels is the Holy Grail for diabetics and nothing derails this quest more than large, fatty meals. All of us have a tendency to binge-eat but the indulgence is more dangerous for diabetics since it can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Stick to small meals and avoid binge-eating at all costs.
- Thou shalt not eat out too often
The best way to live for diabetics is to plan every meal which means that they shouldn’t eat out too often. When we plan our meals, we’re in complete control of what food we’re going to eat, how many calories we’re going to consume and how much we’re going to eat. The entire dynamics changes when we’re eating out and more often than not, we end up making the wrong choices. This is why diabetics should minimize eating out as far as possible!
In conclusion, it is possible to live a long life with diabetes. Following a life of moderation and discipline would help to a great extent.