What is Diabetes?

According to World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. [1]

My tryst with diabetes

My grandma had this disease and my father, in his late 30’s, caught it owing to his not so healthy lifestyle. I don’t know the reason why my grandma had this — maybe because she had a sweet tooth. But my dad definitely became diabetic because of unhealthy eating habits and a lifestyle that wasn’t good for him. I remember how my grandma would pop 1 tab in her mouth before every meal and how my mom would make green veggies for her separately in the evening. When my dad got to know about his diabetes, he made some drastic lifestyle changes and started eating healthy food and reduced his intake of sugar, sweets, and oils.

Foods a diabetic should include in their diet in India

Experts suggest that a diabetic diet should be high in fiber and must contain milk without cream, buttermilk, seasonal fruits, and green veggies. I am listing below some of the food options that I have seen my grandma and dad taking in their diet for years now.

indian diabetic diet

  1. Early morning recipes: a) 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds soaked in 100ml of water overnight b) Overnight soaked almonds (4-5)
  2. Breakfast food options: 1 slice of brown bread with 2 boiled eggs and green tea; 2 small paranthas with raita/ pickle, boiled sprouts; 1 stuffed parantha with pickle and peas sabzi; 1 chapati with any seasonal sabzi; unprocessed ragi flakes/ wheat flakes with 1 cup of low-fat milk; 2 moong dal chillas with green chutney is my favourite breakfast option; 1 bowl of vegetable upma; 2-3 idlis with chutney and sambhar; 2 dosas with chutney and sambhar; 1 bowl of red rice vegetable poha; 2 besan chillas with chutney; 1 bowl of vegetable upma.
  3. Pre-lunch food options: Unstrained vegetable juice; 1 seasonal fruit like apple, berries, mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, lychees, melon, pomegranate; 1 cup of tomato, carrot and cucumber salad; tender coconut water.
  4. Lunch food options: 2 chapatis with 1 bowl of dal and 1 vegetable curry and curd; 2 chapatis with 1 bowl of rajma/chole and 1 vegetable curry and curd/raita; 2 chapatis with 3 oz baked fish and 1 vegetable curry and curd/ raita; vegetable (cucumber/ tomato) salad + ½ cup rice + ½ cup vegetable curry + fish curry; 1 bowl of vegetable daliya + curd + papad; salad + ½ cup brown rice + 1 cup sambhar+ any vegetable curry + buttermilk; salad + ½ cup brown rice + ½ cup fish/chicken curry + any vegetable curry + buttermilk.
  5. Evening snacks: Green tea + bhel puri/ any other baked snack; masala puffed rice + green tea; green tea + a fistful of roasted nuts (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts); black coffee/ green tea/ filter coffee + roasted chana/other homemade snacks (made with less oil).
  6. Dinner food options: 2 chapatis + any vegetable curry (except root vegetable) + dal/paneer/chicken stew; vegetable/ chicken soup with 1 or 2 chapatis; mixed vegetable curry with 2 chapatis; salad + 2 chapatis + any vegetable curry + fish/ chicken curry.
  7. Before bed: A glass of warm milk with a pinch of cinnamon powder/ turmeric powder.
  8. Superfoods/ Functional foods: These foods help in managing the blood sugar levels of a diabetic. Some examples like Bitter gourd, Psyllium husk, Millets, Brown rice, Legumes, Oats, Quinoa, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Nuts, and oilseeds – Walnuts and flaxseeds.
  9. Recommended vegetables for a diabetic: Spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, peas, capsicum, gourds, onion, garlic, celery, asparagus, beans, brinjal, lettuce, zucchini, tomato, broccoli, and kale.
  10. Ensure Diabetes Care: Recently, I heard about this product called “Ensure Diabetes Care” by Abbott. It is a specialized nutritional supplement to help manage diabetes.[2] This scientific formula takes care of blood sugar, heart health, and weight. It makes a good quick breakfast or an evening snack.

As per experts, for a diabetic, eating small portions and moderation is the key to combating this disease. Also per day calorie intake should be between 1,500-1,800 calories with a proportion of 60:20:20 between carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, respectively. [3]

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[1] https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1

[2] https://ensureindia.in/diabetes-care/understanding-diabetes