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The Correlation Between Diabetes And Food

As Diabetes is a disorder due to the body’s inability to process sugar, there is a direct and intrinsic relationship between Diabetes and food. In fact, managing food intake is also one of the first steps in managing and living with Diabetes.

Once you have received a positive diagnosis for Diabetes, one of the first things the doctors advise is managing your diet and nutrition. At this point, it’s helpful to become aware of the term “Glycaemic Index” and what that means for your diet plan. Glycaemic Index is a value associated with food items that indicates the food’s effect on an individual’s blood glucose levels.

Selecting the right food items by checking out their Glycaemic Indices is very important in managing Diabetes with diet and nutrition. Choice of low glycaemic value foods can help you come out a winner and stay on top of your condition!

What to eat?

One of the first questions that comes to the mind of people and families living with Diabetes is: “What to eat?” The good news is, people living with Diabetes can, in fact, eat almost anything, as long as it is in small portions, barring selected high processed sugar items, discussed in our food corner of Famhealth,s diabetes community.

The term “diet plan” can be a stress point in itself, as it hints at the need to change established eating patterns. However, if you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, this is one stress you need not take, as the “Diabetes diet plans” are some of the healthiest plans and can easily be followed by anyone, with the possible exception of small children.

In fact, there are no specific, rigid meal plans that are to be followed. People living with Diabetes can eat almost anything –moderately.

Do you want to control fluctuation in your blood glucose levels? 

Sometimes you will note your blood sugar levels are fluctuating form high to low. There is a simple reason behind this – chances are there is something that you have been eating that is not fitting in with the management of your condition.

Blood sugars are affected by many things that include the food you ate, how long ago you ate, your physical activity, stress levels, sleep patterns, and your emotional wellbeing. If you use Insulin to address these fluctuations, chances are you may get stuck in a high-low cycle that is bad for your long-term health.

It is a good idea to keep a daily record of your meals and physical activity levels as it has an impact on how stable your blood sugar levels are. People with diabetes need to eat small meals frequently, especially when they are on medications such as Insulin, to watch out for low blood glucose levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, a daily intake of 1400-1500 calories is a must, in accordance with the individual’s BMI and physical activity levels.

Do check with your doctor about how much activity and how many calories your body needs daily as you plan your diet and exercise routine. An ideal diabetes meal includes a variety of low carbohydrates, proteins, fibrous non-starchy fruits and vegetables. However, before we delve into the list of suitable food items, let us take a quick look at the myths and facts surrounding Diabetes-friendly foods.

Smart Eating Strategies

  • Keep a Food Diary
    • One of the smartest ways to manage your condition is to record what you are eating throughout the day. Leading dieticians around the world recommend keeping a detailed record of what you are eating so as to better understand how they impact your condition. Studies in United Kingdom confirm that people who maintained food records lose the extra weight, and keep it off better than people who did not record their intake.
  • Watch your food labels
    • Want to grab your favourite drink or take a bite of the potato chips? It is a good idea to read the nutritional information given on the package label. Knowing the calorie content and glycaemic index can get a little cumbersome, but research suggests that awareness of the calorie content and sugar levels helps people living with Diabetes keep track of unsuitable food items that may spike their blood glucose levels.
  • Start with a good breakfast
    • Starting the day with a good breakfast powers you up with energy and helps you maintain your blood glucose levels throughout the day. There is enough research out there to support this statement. The old saying “breakfast like a king” stands correct if you choose low carb breads & cereals, fresh juices, boiled eggs, nuts, oats, yogurt, cheese, and milk.
  • Eat by the plate method
    • This is an interesting method advocated by ADA, which subscribes filling half of your plate with non-starchy fruits and vegetables, one fourth of your plate with lean proteins such as grilled fish or chicken and the balance with low carbs. This is a popular model which not only aids in weight loss, but also keeps the blood glucose levels under check.
  • Carb counting
    • Carbohydrate counting, also called carb counting, is not a diet plan, it is a meal planning strategy for people with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Carbohydrate counting involves keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates in the foods that you eat every day.
      Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients found in food and drinks. Completely cutting down on carbs may lead to fatigue and restlessness. One must choose wisely and replace unhealthy carbs with Diabetes-friendly and healthy low-carb foods.
      According to National Institute of Health, USA, healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy eating plan as they provide both energy and nutrients such as vitamins & minerals and most importantly fibre. Fibre can help in preventing constipation, lowering cholesterol levels, and controlling your weight.
      Unhealthy carbohydrates are often food and drinks with added sugars. Although unhealthy carbohydrates can also provide energy, they have little to no nutrients and they often spike your blood glucose levels leading to poor diabetes management.
  • Eat more small meals
    • People with diabetes should eat four to five small meals during the day, instead of three large meals according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Eating small meals allows the body to replenish itself, while at the same time slower, continuous absorption of food prevents cravings and hunger pangs. Among the benefits associated with this are decreased blood sugar levels after meals, reduced insulin requirements during the course of the day, weight loss and lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Always stock up your refrigerator
    • Stocking up your refrigerator with healthy food items is all about keeping your supplies ready. This prevents you from eating high calorie and sugary food items when you feel hungry or have any cravings. You can choose from a wide variety of fruits, nuts, cheese, and low carb multigrain breads and protein shakes to quickly make mini-meals and avoid binging. 

To read more on Diabetes, click on the link below. 

Diabetes Types & symptoms