Eat to beat Diabetes!

If you are a diabetic, your diet should reduce chances of diabetes complications as well as provide necessary nutrients

Eating cakeWhen you have diabetes, you should expect your own diet to do two things. It should help you keep your blood sugar and fats within a healthy range, and reduce your chances of developing complications of diabetes. Your diet should provide you with all the necessary nutrients.

Diabetes Food Rule

Not Allowed: Sugar, glucose, jaggery, honey, all sweets, mithais, ice-cream, chocolates, candies and alcohol

Restricted Amounts: Potatoes, yam, arbi, sweet potatoes. mangoes, grapes, bananas, seetaphal, chikoo, fruit juices, soft drinks, fried foods, parathas, puris, pakoras, mathris, khara biscuit, sweet biscuits, dry fruits, cakes, pastries, jelly, jam, marmalade, pies, salad oil

Free Foods: Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, lemon, clear soups, buttermilk, salads [no mayonnaise], sour chutneys, pickles without oil, lime water, tea/coffee [with prescribed amounts of milk, without cream and sugar].

  1. Consume more of whole grains and cereals like wheat, jowar, ragi, bajra, oats etc., instead of refined cereals like maida and its products [white bread, pizza, burger]. Consume dals and legumes in fairly good amounts, up to 2-3 servings per day to obtain essential nutrients. Sprouted legumes are highly recommended on a daily basis
  2. Prefer skimmed milk and its products rather than whole milk. Care should be taken to skim the milk by boiling it, cooling it in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours and removing the cream layer. Repeat the process to double skim it. Milk products such as ghee, butter, margarine, and cheese, that are high in calories, should be restricted or consumed in accordance to your nutritionist’s advice
  3. Whole fruits, fresh vegetables, and leafy vegetables should be consumed in good amounts in every meal as they provide essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and are low in calories
  4. The amount and type of oil used is very important. Do not consume more than 3-4 tsp oil/person/day. A blend of oil is preferred than any single oil. Non-vegetarians should consume low fat foods like egg whites, lean portions of chicken, instead of red meats [mutton, beef, and pork], organ meats [liver, kidney, heart, and brain], egg yolk [high in saturated fats and cholesterol]. Gravies prepared in onion, tomatoes or palak base, are recommended over coconut and groundnut gravies to reduce fat content of diet.
  5. Slim down your meals automatically by using methods such as boiling, grilling, baking etc., instead of frying. Grilling intensifies flavours like no other cooking method, because the high heat of the grill concentrates your food’s taste. Also, baking at high heat gives results similar to deep-frying, but without as much fat
  6. Hydrate yourself with 1.5-2 litres of water/day. Beware! Carbonated beverages, aerated drinks and caffeine-rich beverages cause water-loss from your body. Avoid them
  7. Start your day with a well-nourishing breakfast. Eat at regular intervals of 3–4 hours. Take at least 15-20 minutes to finish eating your meal
  8. Certain foods that can prove beneficial to control blood sugars include fenugreek seeds [methi]; they can be sprouted, or powdered, and added in salads or atta. Karela can be eaten as a vegetable dish. Or, karela water, or neem leaves extract, can also be consumed with water, early in the morning.

For children

  • A diabetic child should never fast, especially if s/he is involved in physical activity, exercise etc.,
  • In case the child goes to birthday parties, eating chips, cakes and soft drinks should be completely avoided. If the child cannot resist, only a small piece of cake with no icing can be given
  • It is important to inform the child’s friends and teachers that s/he is a diabetic
  • Children should always carry a card that states that they are diabetic, including advice that need to be followed in case of emergency.
Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.


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