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Healthy, Balanced Diabetes Diet for Better Health

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A healthy lifestyle should include nutrition and exercise, but when you have diabetes, these factors hold even greater significance. To put diabetes into one simple sentence: it is a metabolic illness marked by persistently excessive blood sugar levels in the body. There are three main types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational. Blood glucose is the primary energy source you get from food. Therefore, the ultimate challenge of controlling diabetes is keeping your blood glucose level, also known as blood sugar, within the target range. To do this, you must understand that the foods or diet you choose, how much you eat, and when you eat are crucial in maintaining your blood glucose level.

At first, modifying your eating and drinking habits and becoming more active may seem complicated. But, you might find it simpler to take baby steps. For a healthier you, this article will explain what to include and avoid in your diet while you have diabetes.

Understanding a Diabetes Diet

The best diet for diabetes is quite different from a regular diet. Consider a diabetes diet as a way of life instead. This diet plan assists people with diabetes in leading a better life with improved blood sugar control and lowers the risk of complications from diabetes and high blood lipid levels. Furthermore, it helps them maintain a healthy weight and a better eating pattern. Eating the most nutritious foods in moderation, following a balanced diet, and having regular meal timings constitute a diabetes diet.

Foods to Eat

You might worry that having diabetes is equal to avoiding tasty foods. The good news is that diabetes is not a death sentence, and you can still enjoy your favourite meals, but you may have to eat fewer or controlled quantities. Consuming various healthful foods from all food groups in the suggested serving sizes is the key to eating when managing diabetes. 

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green, leafy vegetables offer vital vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Additionally, they little affect blood sugar levels. According to research, the high antioxidant content and starch-digesting enzymes in green, leafy vegetables make them beneficial for patients with diabetes.

Among the green, leafy vegetables are

  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Amaranth Leaves
  • Fenugreek Leaves
  • Bok choy

Whole Grains

Compared to refined white grains, whole grains have higher levels of fibre and more minerals. People with diabetes should consume a diet high in fibre because fibre slows the digestive process. As a result, nutrients are absorbed more slowly, which helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Compared to white bread and rice, whole wheat and other whole grains have a lower glycemic index (GI). They consequently have less of an impact on blood sugar.

Include these whole grains in your diabetes diet: 

  • Whole grain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Rye
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Whole-grain pasta

Protein

The body uses protein for growth and repair. Therefore, most protein-rich diets have no direct impact on blood sugar levels.

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Skinless chicken or turkey, lean meat
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Dried beans and some peas like chickpeas and split peas

Dairy

Dairy products like nonfat or low-fat milk or lactose-free milk if you have lactose intolerance, yoghurt and buttermilk.

Fruits

When it comes to fruit, balance is vital. If you eat fruit as a healthy snack or as a component of a balanced meal, there shouldn’t be any issues. However, it starts to become a problem if you only eat fruit for a meal or consume a lot of it.

Certain fruits have more sugar than others, so choosing fruits with reduced sugar content may help you achieve your blood sugar goals.

Fruits with less sugar include:

  • Strawberries
  • Oranges or mandarin
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Raspberries

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats support heart health and give you a feeling of fullness. Among them are

  • Avocado
  • Unprocessed peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds

Foods to Avoid 

Knowing which foods to exclude from a diabetes diet is equally as crucial as knowing which ones to include. That is because many foods and beverages are high in added sugar and carbohydrates, raising blood sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, you should limit or avoid the following foods.

Refined Grains

White bread, rice, and pasta are examples of refined grains that are high in carbohydrates but poor in fibre, which might cause blood sugar levels to rise more quickly than with whole grains.

Processed Meats

Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, salami, and cold cuts contain excessive sodium, preservatives, and other dangerous substances. Well, these are not precisely diabetes-friendly. 

GI-High Fruit

Melons and pineapple rate high on the glycemic index scale, while some fruits are low. It indicates that they have a higher and faster pace of blood glucose processing than other fruits.

Sweetened Beverages 

Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, sweet tea, and energy drinks are not good choices. You can do better without them. 

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats

Unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats can worsen diabetic symptoms. These fats are present in fried and processed meals, such as baked goods, fries, pizza, and chips.

Alcohol

Those with diabetes should generally restrict alcohol consumption. It is because drinking alcohol can fluctuate blood sugar levels more likely.

The HealthifyMe Note

A smart diabetes diet strongly resembles a healthy diet, which minimises added sugars and refined grains while focusing on whole, minimally processed foods, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates in moderation, lean protein, and healthy fats. It may seem like a lot to know, but the fundamentals of managing your diabetes focus on simple, healthy eating with regular exercise. 

  • Breakfast: Bajra dosa – ( 2Nos) + Sambar – (1/2 Cup)
  • Mid-morning: Buttermilk (1 glass)
  • Lunch: Brown rice (1/2 cup) + dal (1 cup) + palak sabzi (1 cup)
  • Snacks: Sprout salad (1 cup) + lemon tea without sugar (1 cup)
  • Dinner: Multigrain chapati (2 Nos) + spinach gravy (1 cup) + dal/pulse curry

The HealthifyMe Note

We all love tasty snacks. But light homemade snacks are an intelligent choice for diabetes rather than packaged ones. Also, ensure that the snack portion is smaller than your primary meals. Your daily food consumption should include fibre, lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. 

Alternative Diabetes Management Strategies

Physical Activity

Physical activity is necessary, along with a good diet. Take on as many various forms of exercise as you can. On most, if not all days of the week, try to engage 3-4 days a week in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. 

Plan Ahead

Make a weekly food plan using nutritious dishes that you may find online or get guidance from a nutritionist. It helps to avoid last-minute rush and dietary mistakes. 

Counting Carbohydrates

One well-liked technique for controlling blood sugar levels is carb counting. First, you must keep track of the grammes of carbohydrates in the meals you consume. Then, depending on how many carbohydrates you eat, you might occasionally need to modify the insulin dosage you take.

Conclusion

Your diet can support or hinder insulin resistance, breaking or making your diabetes manageable. The fundamental principles revolve around simple, wholesome eating in moderation. Finally, as you dine, aim for a diet low in simple sugars and high in whole plant-based foods, including fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy plant-based fats, but watch out for added sugars. Just keep in mind that, while these meals may assist in controlling blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet that is generally nutrient-rich and well-balanced, along with an active lifestyle, is the most crucial component of managing blood sugar.

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