Diabetes Management: A Healthy Food Guide
According to the International Diabetes Federation estimates, there were about 65 million people with diabetes in India in 2013. Diabetes is the health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Blood sugar is also known as blood glucose; it is a crucial source of energy for the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body utilize the glucose. If insufficient insulin is produced by the body or it does not respond to insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood resulting in diabetes. The body naturally produces blood sugar from the food we eat and stores in the body. Diabetes can be successfully managed by the combination of a well-planned diet and medication. Use websites that provide free nutrition databases and food labels to look up the nutrition information of food. A healthy balanced diet is essential for diabetes management. The food you eat affects your blood sugar, body weight, and heart health. The three major food groups that contribute calories are carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Among the food groups, carbohydrates have the maximum effect on blood sugar levels. After meals, the increase in your blood sugar level is determined by the amount of carbohydrate in the food. Nutrition data helps you identify the foods that contain carbohydrates and control portion sizes. Examples of foods rich in carbohydrates are rice, bread, roti, naan, cereals, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes), dried beans, lentils, milk, yogurt, fruits, juices, sodas, and desserts. Protein is an essential part of your diet but it does contribute calories. Excessive consumption can result in weight gain and increased fat intake. Lean meats, low-fat or non-fat dairy, and plant-based proteins are good choices. Foods that have a high fat content are also high in calories; which can lead to weight gain. Minimizing saturated and trans fats can reduce the risk of heart disease and support improved weight control. Reliable online nutrition databases also provide the fat content of foods.
Weight loss can also help lower blood sugar levels. Regular exercise and controlling calories can help with weight loss. Utilize free calorie counters to plan your meals. Convenient calorie counting apps on mobile phones help you stay on track when you eat out. Work with a dietitian to create personalized meal plans that fit with your insulin or medication dosage and schedule. A dietitian who understands ethnic diets can work with you to set up effective meal plans.
Seetha N. (M.S. Computer Science, B.S. Dietetics, B.E. Computer Engineering) is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Her website provides Indian cuisine nutrition facts.