What is a Diabetic Diet?
Diabetes is one of the worst diseases that could happen to anyone. Going by the definition, diabetes refers to a disease in which the blood glucose levels are beyond normal. Our bodies turned most of the food we eat to glucose or sugar to use for energy. And an organ that is located near the stomach which is the pancreas help glucose to get into the cells of our bodies by making a hormone called insulin.
A diabetic patient, therefore, has to take really good care of what goes inside their body as diabetes can lead to serious problems such as weakening your eyesight, loss of hearing, excessive weight loss or gain, hair fall, varicose veins, and arthritis as well as kidney, nerve and heart damage. Also one has to be really careful as patients suffering from diabetes are more susceptible to gangrene.
Items that are too sugary or starchy are a big NO for them. In fact, they should be consuming a meal that is naturally rich in proteins and nutrients, and low on fats. Ideally, if one looks at it from a diet point of view, it is one of the best plans a non-diabetic patient can use in order to lose weight.
What would be the reason for taking up a diet?
Truth is, when you suffer from diabetes, you need to be very cautious about your diet, as one wrong item (such as drinking a sugar cane juice) could prove to be fatal. Love those cupcakes? Have a small bite, or better off don’t eat them, as consuming it would simply increase the levels of your sugar.
Once the sugar consumed enters your body, it starts thickening the blood, and results in varicose veins. With respect to the heart, it slowly blocks the arteries, which could prove fatal at a later stage. Considering the challenges a diabetic patient faces a “diabetic diet” has been formulated that keeps in mind the health of a diabetic patient and provides them a list of items to be consumed and eliminated, which you would definitely see an improvement not just in the level of your sugar, but also your overall health.
A diabetic diet is ideally for those who have diabetes mellitus, or in other words, high blood pressure.
Unlike the regular diet plans that we come across, a diabetic diet isn’t a rigorous diet plan that makes you starve or promises to make you lose weight. In fact, this diet helps you come to a weight that is normal, as well as keeps your sugar level normal.
In case of an increase in the level of sugar, one sees common symptoms like joint pain, excessive sweating, blurred vision, and feeling of fatigue. However, following a proper diet plan, and eliminating all the fats and carbohydrates would help you be healthy and happy!
As opposed to a host of diet plans that break-down the meals into six small meals, the benefit of a diabetic plan is that it has no such requirements. One can follow their simple three time- meal plan that would help in achieving the goals. However, If your insulin levels are too high, then your doctor may recommend you a six small meal plan, which would involve eating little, and eating at regular intervals so as to feel full, as well as to prevent both high and low blood sugar level. Eating too much at one time would create a larger amount of insulin. A person whose sugar level is borderline or mild can still do that. However, people with high levels of sugar must stick to a six small meal plan, as that would help in a regular flow if insulin.
Therefore, the title says the diet, as opposed to the diet plan, as persons following this do not specifically have to consume a particular thing at a particular time. They simply have to eat what’s right for them that would further help them in balancing their glucose levels. It is said that in the diabetic diet, you see what goes inside, and not how much. You can eat if you are hungry, but the quantity or amount although not measured should be in moderation.
What can be consumed?
In this diet, a person has to eat in moderation. Following are the foods that one must consume:-
As opposed to the perception of eliminating carbohydrates, one needs to have them in moderation, as carbohydrates are also one of the main sources of calories, and consuming them to a certain limit is essential. Leaving aside simple and complex carbohydrates such as sugar and starchy food and must focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains. Also, in case someone decided to consume milk and other dairy products, they must choose items such as fat-free cheese, butter, and skimmed milk, to name a few.
- Food Rich in Fiber
Fiber is vital for our body, as it helps in moderating and regulating the digestive system of the body, as well as removes the toxins and helps in proper regulation of blood sugar level.
Diabetic patients must have fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, dry-fruits, wheat, millet, oats and nuts.
Yes! You can consume fats. However, fats have a category of good fats and bad fats, in which the “good” fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Examples of foods containing these are olive oil, pecans, peanut oil, foods containing Omega-3 are also a great source of fats for your body.
In contrast with the perception that diabetic patients can have non-vegetarian foods. However, they can have chicken and fish. items such as red meat have to be completely eliminated from the diet.
Fish, again, is a source of Omega 3 fatty acids that promote a healthy heart by lowering triglycerides that lower blood fats.
- Dairy products
For all those who just can’t resist their daily glass of milk, or their love for cheese need not worry anymore, as you can continue having your dairy products. However, milk must be fat-free or low-fat, yoghurt must be plain or low-fat, and cheese must be fat-free as well.
Even though you are diabetic, you can still have sweets. However, you cannot just pick up a bar of chocolate off the shelf and eat it.
For most of the time, one can have dark chocolate, jaggery and carrot cake just to name a few. The level of sugar in these kind of foods are relatively low, and eating these items such as would not lead to any problems. However, one needs to consume these foods in moderation and not overeat.
What can’t you eat?
While we understood what we can eat or consume, there are certain food that diabetics can’t have.
Following are some of the items that are a strict no-no for diabetics:
- Red Meat
Red meat can, under no circumstances, be consumed by diabetics as it contains high levels of cholesterol. Consuming red meat would increase the risk of having Type 2 diabetes by almost 48%. Also, meat contains saturated fats, which are not supposed to be consumed by diabetics.
One must reduce their intake of alcohol if they are diabetic, as alcohol causes the glucose levels to rise or even fall, depending on the amount that one is drinking, and while someone is undergoing medication, having alcohol would interrupt the effects of the medication and lead to “insulin-shock”, which can be a very critical situation.
Another reason to eliminate alcohol is because of the interference with liver. The task of our liver is to regulate the sugar level; and drinking alcohol would lead the liver to start removing the alcohol from the blood, and can also cause Hypoglycemia, meaning that your blood sugar level would drop.
Diabetic patients are usually advised to cut down on their sugar intake. But sodium too has more or less the same effect.
Consuming extra salt will thicken the blood and block the arteries which can lead to cardiovascular diseases, eye-problems and even kidney- diseases.
As mentioned previously, we have good and bad fats, and Trans fat and saturated fats are the “bad fats” for you. These are not good because they increase the body’s production of Low density cholesterol, or LDL. Also, they cause plaques in the arteries, which narrow down the article. As a result of all of this, your heart would have to work harder to pump more blood which increases the risk of heart attack or a stroke.
Saturated fats include milk, butter, cheese, turkey, and red meat. In case you need to have any of these items, you must have just a total of 7% of the total amount of calories you consume on a daily basis.
With respect to Trans fats, these appear mostly in the liquid oil form. Not only do they increase the level of bad fats in your system, but also have a simultaneous effect of reducing the level of good fats in the body. In order to keep these at bay, one must avoid processed foods.
Thus, a diabetic diet is not a diet fad that one blindly follows in order to lose weight or excess fats but it is, in fact, a diet for those suffering from diabetes, as following this would help them maintain their glucose levels. Diabetes is a problem that doesn’t have a vaccine or a cure, and hence, it becomes our responsibility to take care of ourselves while we are eating.
Another great thing about this diet is that after gaining knowledge of the do’s and don’ts, one can plan the diet on their own, right from the number of meals to what is to be eaten by understanding what would be good for them. Every person knows their own body, what it would like, dislike, and what would it endure. Therefore, you must always listen to what your body says. Do not give in to temptations, but occasionally, if you are craving to have something, then you can go ahead and have it! But remember the rule- everything has to be strictly in moderation.
Another good thing about this diet is that with whatever foods that are allowed, one can always prepare their dishes creatively, thus adding spice to the boring and bland items, as controlling diabetes can get onto your nerves at times. It is also very important to seek for the advice and assistance from a dietician to help you formulate a healthy diet plan that will substantially help you to regulate your blood sugar.