Diabetes is a common disorder and can affect people irrespective of age or sex. The United States alone was estimated to have around 10.9 million diabetics aged 65 years or more in 2010, while the number of younger diabetics who were less than 20 years in the same year was estimated to be around 215,000. Considering that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of deaths in USA, this disorder needs a lot of attention.
What Is Meant By A Diabetic Diet?
A diabetic diet is often known as MNT or medical nutrition therapy for diabetics. But this diet does not necessarily have to be limited to diabetics. The basic aim of this diet plan is to encourage healthy eating, which is something that everyone can benefit from.
Significance of Diabetic Diet
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which makes it all the more sensitive to the diet consumed. Diabetic diet is a crucial part of diabetes management because of numerous reasons as listed below:
- Diabetic diet is more than adequate to control many cases of borderline diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. Such cases do not need any additional medications, and a rigorously followed diabetic diet can help these people keep their blood sugar levels under control
- Diabetic patients who are on anti-diabetic medications can benefit a lot by following the diabetic diet. It is possible to keep the blood sugar levels under control with lesser dosages and both insulin response and sensitivity can be improved.
- Diabetic patients need to watch their weight. A diabetic diet when combined with regular exercise can help in maintaining normal body weight. Many diabetics lose the extra flab and weight after continuing with the diabetic diet. Maintaining normal body weight can help in controlling diabetes more effectively with lower dosage of medications.
- Diabetic diet ensures that sudden shooting up or dropping down of blood sugar values is prevented. Such fluctuations in blood glucose levels can be dangerous and can even be life threatening in many cases.
- Diabetic diet can keep many of the untoward complications of diabetes from occurring, thus making diabetes control much easier and trouble free.
Foods to Include in a Diabetic Diet
- Carbs are best kept complex. Complex carbs prevent the sudden surge in blood sugar and subsequent Insulin surge to get the rising blood sugar levels under control. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products etc are the best choices of complex carbs
- Fiber can never go wrong in any diet. Ensure that the diet contains a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wheat bran and a few nuts.
- Eat fish at least twice a week. Try to keep clear of the fish that has a lot of mercury contamination like king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. Tuna, sardines, salmon etc are all good choices. Fish contain a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids, which will help in lowering inflammation, normalizing blood sugar levels and keeping ‘bad cholesterol’ levels under check while boosting ‘good cholesterol’ levels.[i]
- Drink lots of water; 8-12 glasses a day are adequate to keep your system detoxified and bowels moving regularly.
Foods to Avoid in a Diabetic Diet
- Avoid all kinds of junk, fried and fatty foods
- Refined flour, transfats, preserved foods, and foods that are high in saturated fats should be avoided
- Red meat and animal fats contain a lot of cholesterol. Avoid such foods totally or use very sparingly. Other high cholesterol containing foods are shellfish, egg yolks and organ meats.
- Use salt in the minimum possible amounts. 2grams per day is the safe limit. Anything beyond this will mean inviting trouble. Dietary salt does not just limit to the amount used in cooking or seasoning. Many food items that you may be consuming day in and day out without a second thought, actually contain a high level of sodium in it. All preserved, canned, processed and pickled foods contain a lot of sodium. So do the sauces and ketchups too. So avoid using much of these foods and also take all of these foods into account when calculating your total intake of salt per day.