The must do’s
Eat small, frequent meals: Long gaps followed by large meals creates low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and raises (hyperglycemia), both of which are detrimental to diabetes management. Eating small snacks every two hours will distribute the carbohydrate load and thus the insulin need. It becomes un avoidable to eat large quantities of food if the time gap between meals is more than six hours apart. This large quantity of food creates an insulin demand that the body is unable to handle, especially in diabetics, thus leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Eating every two hours doesn’t have to be tedious or a hindrance to routine life, even small meals like a sandwich or fruit can do the trick.
Don’t fear foods: Most diabetics almost instantly develop a fear of certain foods like rice, bread, potatoes, grapes and other sweet fruits. Several studies have clearly ruled out these deceptive fears. Diabetics can have all of the above high carb, high sugar foods, provided they keep the portion sizes small. These foods shouldn’t be eliminated from the diet. But limit bread to one or two small slices in a day. As for rice, make sure you throw the excess water out and do not have more than a small bowl in a day. Other refined foods like noodles, pasta etc. can also be a part of the diet as long as you limit the portion size to a small bowl, not more than once or twice a week.
Please note that the total number of these foods in a day will vary depending on the age, body weight, gender and other health conditions of the person. Your diet must be discussed with your nutritionist for individualised guidance.Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes daily l This could be a simple walk in your building or in the park or even at home. If you enjoy a sport like tennis or golf, indulge in it as many times a week as your schedule permits. On other days, walk or stroll. Regular cardio activity directly helps insulin utilisation and helps stablise sugar levels.
Learn to read food labels: Although food labeling is quite nascent in India, it is now catching up.Sugar can be `disguised’ into many pre-packaged foods under different names: fructose corn syrup, maltase, agave beet sugar, molasses, brown sugar, cane juice, caster sugar, corn sweetener, date sugar… the list goes on.
Limit fat intake: This is a crucial step as excess fat in the body increases insulin resistance thus making it difficult to manage blood sugar levels optimally. Watch the overall oil/ghee/butter used in daily cooking at home and when you eat out.
Of course, you have to cut out sugary foods like cakes, mithai and the like but you can manage your carbs just like you would manage your blood sugar. You already have a long list of dos and don’ts as a diabetic. Don’t add fear to the list.