- Diabetics should stay away from aerated drinks
- Processed food and junk food is also off the table for diabetics
- Even in moderate amounts, alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to spike
Diabetes has become one of the most common lifestyle diseases around the world. According to a study, by 2030, 98 million people in India may have Type 2 Diabetes which makes it a potential epidemic for Indians in the coming times. When left unchecked, this condition can lead to many serious complications including cardiovascular ailments, multiple organ damage, and blindness. Living with diabetes can be difficult and tough not only for the diabetic but also for the entire family emotionally physically and financially too. But it does not mean you have to deprive yourself of a normal life and this includes eating a hearty meal. However, since diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation along with other health issues, it is important to consume a healthy diet.
Diabetes diet: Food to eat and avoid for blood sugar control
There is a severe lack of understanding among people on how healthy diet and lifestyle can affect the health of a diabetic. There is nothing called a specific diabetic diet, it is all about eating a well-balanced diet and healthy choices that keeps sugar and energy levels and mood up. To bring more clarity to the chaos, here are some food items that you must definitely avoid if you want to keep your sugar levels under control.
1. Sweetened packaged foods
Make it a point to avoid sugary-laced beverages such as colas and packaged juices. Aerated drinks are high on hidden sugars, specifically fructose that could increase your risk of developing fatty liver, a serious diabetes-related complication. This list is long and includes sugary drinks, flavoured coffee, fruity yogurts, ice creams and sweetened peanut butter.
Tip: Go for fresh whole fruits instead of juices as they give you the necessary fibre as well.
2. Dried fruits
While nuts are heart healthy, you should avoid dried fruits such as raisins. This is because in dried fruits, the sugars get concentrated due to water loss. For example, raisins contain three times more sugar than fresh grapes1.
Tip: Consume low-sugar fruits such as apples, pineapples, oranges, etc.instead of bananas and mangoes.
3. Processed foods
Steering clear of packaged items such as chips, cookies, biscuits, French fries and instant noodles is surely a difficult ask. But since these foods contain high amounts of salts and empty carbohydrates, they can spike sugar levels instantly. The high sodium content can also increase your chances of developing hypertension and heart disease.
Tip: Eat a handful of nuts such as almonds and walnuts if you feel hungry between meals.
4. White rice and refined flour products
White rice is a big no for diabetics and so are refined flour or maida-based items such as white bread and pasta. They are rich in simple carbohydrates and therefore high on the glycemic index (GI). This means they release sugars rapidly into the blood stream, causing sugar levels to spike in a short period of time. While wheat-based items such as phulkas are also comparable on the GI scale, using high fibre wheat with the bran intact can do in moderation.
Tip: If you are a rice eater, then opt for red, brown or black rice which is lower on the GI scale and also contains valuable fibre. Go for high fibre, multigrain breads if you must.
Foods containing potatoes must also be avoided as the starches in potatoes are quickly turned into sugar in the body, contributing to your blood sugar level. While potatoes don't have to be entirely left out, they can be included in moderation along with a large serving of other veggies.
Tip: Go for yam or sweet potatoes as replacement in potato-based recipes that you love.
Even in moderate amounts, alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to spike, while excessive drinking can cause sudden and drastic drop in sugar levels, which can prove dangerous. Some forms of liquor can also negatively interfere with oral diabetes medications. Therefore, it is important to cut down on your alcohol consumption.
Tip: If you must, indulge in an occasional drink or two but make sure to drink slowly and in small amounts.
In the Indian context, other grain options such as rolled oats, millets, barley and quinoa make for healthier alternatives. Those living with diabetics must be aware of how common local foods are placed on the GI scale4 for better clarity. Also, it is important to include more of whole grains, pulses and fresh produce. Switch to low-fat dairy and dairy products or even non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk and soy milk products. And apart from maintaining a good diet, taking up some form of regular exercise can help control your sugar levels as well as cut down your risk of developing other ailments, especially in the long run.
(Priyannka Aashu Singh is Nutritionist at Portea Medical)
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