Living With Diabetes - Great Foods to Eat

The belief that people with Diabetes are advised to have a restricted diet especially in terms of carbohydrates is a thing of the past. Today people with Diabetes live full and varied life, enjoy their food, and manage to control their blood glucose effectively.

"What can I eat? What should I avoid? "These are a few questions that always haunt a diabetic person. The answer lies in the fact that he can eat most of the foods that he used to eat, before getting Diabetes. Dietician Sherry Waldron says "you should never eat what you don't like."

The food that is eaten is mostly made up of;

· Carbohydrates: Sugar, bread/flour, biscuits, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruit, cereal, sweet corn, milk, and yoghurt.

· Fats: Butter, margarine, oil, cream, milk, yoghurt, and cheese.

· Proteins: Meat, fish, cheese, egg, milk, yoghurt.

Glycaemic index of food

Any diabetic before planning a healthy, balanced and interesting diet should keep in mind the glycaemic index of the food. Glycaemic index is the index that describes the blood glucose raising effects of different foods.

Factors that increase the level of glucose in blood i.e. increased glycaemic index are;

· Cooking, as it breaks down the starch in the food

· Prepared food, e.g. mashed potatoes, polished rice, and grated carrots have an increased glycaemic index when compared with whole potatoes, unpolished rice, and sliced carrots.

· Fluids with meals, causes the stomach to empty more quickly and raise the level of glucose in the blood.

· Glucose content doesn't affect the glycaemic index, but the particle size and cell structure in different compounds gives different food responses.

· Salt in the food increases the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream.

Similarly, factors that decrease the level of glucose in blood i.e. decreased glycaemic index are;

· Starch structure, boiled and mashed potatoes give a quicker blood response than rice and pasta give a slower blood glucose response.

· A high fiber diet slows down the emptying rate of the stomach and binds the glucose in the intestine.

· Fat content will delay the emptying of the stomach.

· Cell structure, of certain foods such as beans, peas and lentils remain unchanged and decreases the glucose level of blood. Whole fruits affect the blood glucose level more slowly than the peeled fruits and juice.

· Large pieces of food take longer to digest and also in the stomach emptying.

Dietary fats

People with Diabetes should decrease the intake of total fat and cholesterol. Foods with saturated fats and Trans fats such as dairy products and red meats should be particularly avoided. Many snacks such as chocolates, cakes, pastries and crisps also contain trans-fat.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated foods should be used wherever possible. Softer fats are preferred. Liquid margarine and oil are preferred. Sunflower oil and olive oil should be used for frying. A meal with a high fat content will cause the blood glucose level to rise more slowly.

Improvise your fat intake by cutting down on the fat during week and have a celebratory weekend meal even with takeaway meals!

Dietary fibers

Soluble fibers found in vegetables, fruits, legumes and oats are helpful in maintain blood glucose levels. Adding fibers such as oats and barley affect the glucose control in the body. The fiber forms a thin film on the intestinal wall and causes the glucose to be absorbed more slowly.

Some important foods

Milk: All forms of milk have milk sugar, lactose (5 gm. /100ml) and same amounts of vitamins, minerals and calcium. Semi skimmed or skimmed milk is preferable to take

Vegetables: A diabetic can eat freely from this group as it has very low carbohydrate content. Sweet corn is the only member which should be avoided.

Potatoes: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam if boiled, then their cell wall bursts and glucose becomes quickly available to the body. Fried, deep fried or refrigerated potatoes will be absorbed more slowly.

Breads: Breads taken with margarine or cheese will delay the gastric emptying and decrease the raise in glucose in blood. A sandwich or a roll with tuna, egg, lean meat, chicken, or cheese and salad along with yoghurt or fruits can be a very enjoyable meal. Sugar frosted corn cereal is preferred over corn flakes.

Pasta: Pasta is prepared from crushed or cracked wheat and hence causes a very low rise in blood sugar. It is a very good food for diabetics. Spaghetti is preferred over macaroni.

Meat and fish: Meat and fish have a high protein and fat content and no carbohydrates. It should be avoided in case of diabetic kidney disease.

Pizza: It is a balanced meal as it contains bread, meat or fish, cheese and vegetables. The hard baked bread causes carbohydrates to be absorbed more slowly.

Herbs and spices: Herbs do not affect the blood glucose at all. Care should be taken that herbal seasonings contain a lot of salt and may increase the absorption of sugar.

Fruits and berries: The higher fiber content of fruits and berries causes a slower uptake of glucose. Fruits with low glycaemic index are apple, orange, and banana.

Article Source: Pooja S Banerjee

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