Diabetic diet 1
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You are not alone. There are more than 422 million people in the world along with you are struggling to manage blood sugar level.
You can be the one. Data suggests there will be more than 470 million pre-diabetes (blood sugar in between normal and diabetic range) by 2030.
If you are a diabetic, regular medication, restrictions with diabetic diet have probably made your life bitter, dull or full of guilt.
However, the good news is science has proved that you can reverse diabetes at any time. Yes, gone are those days when you were told to deal with diabetes for the rest of your life. So do you think wasting time following the diabetic diet plan is a good idea any more?

diabetic diet 2

What is a diabetic diet?

It is all about restriction- for the rest of your life. It is all about –
• Don’t eat anything sweet.
• Eat the least amount of carbohydrate
• Eat more protein.

Right? In other word,

• Stop eating almost everything you like, as 80% of your favorite foods are sweet to some extent.
• Eat a spoon of rice, or better stop rice completely. Eat one roti a day instead.
• Never eat potatoes – they are poisons
• Eat only boiled vegetables, soup, and salads.
• Eat bitter kinds of stuff to balance your blood sugar

But you are smart and medicine companies are smarter. They have designed zero calorie sweetener to bring back all the sweetness in your life. And you are probably using them regularly to your tea/ coffee and even to make desserts. Right?

Have you noticed, during parties or social gathering, the person who focuses mostly on dessert table is generally a diabetic?

What’s wrong with diabetic patients?

The breakup of the relationship between insulin and blood sugar leads to develop diabetes. Insulin is the key factor which helps to transport sugar from the blood to cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin whereas, in type 2(the common form), the body stop responding to insulin and later starts producing less insulin.
We eat to fulfill our satiety, to nourish our body and mind. That’s what lack during diabetes. Carbohydrate after digestion split into simple sugar and absorbed in the bloodstream but unable to get into the cells to release energy and nourish the body. Therefore your cells stay hungry, undernourished and lack of energy. That means you need support to –
• control your blood sugar and,
• enhance your insulin response

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A diabetic diet is a myth

The study says, overweight or obese people have a greater risk of diabetes and diabetic patients are much likely to develop hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. That means fixing one problem will help to prevent others.
Actually, a “true” diabetic diet is nothing but a normal healthy diet which irrespective of having diabetes or not, one should always follow. Therefore restricting yourself to any “fad” diabetic diet is not a wise choice.

If not a diabetic diet then what to eat for preventing, controlling and reversing?

Eat a balanced diet. Your cells are hungry for nutrition. Focus on quality than quantity. Do not worsen the situation with the bad quality huge amount of food rather practice eating less but consume only good quality food. You must be thinking, what is good quality food? No, I am not pointing out towards expensive or exotic foods. Have trust in your kitchen. Indulge in homemade food.

Not a diabetic diet – 1. No more “no sugar”

Yes, you read that right. Be smart to pick your sugar. You can satisfy your taste buds with a limited amount of sugar. But be wise enough to pick the right sugar. Don’t eat any sugary item alone, eat it as a part of the meal during breakfast or lunch. There are three types of sugar.

1. Natural sugar – It includes mainly fruits and vegetables. Feel free to satisfy your sweet cravings with a moderate amount of natural sugar. You can finish your meal with a few pieces of sweet fruits (mango, custard apple, banana, apple, grapes, oranges, lemon, lime, pomegranate etc.) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Eat only one variety a day and try eating at least 3-4 varieties of fruits in a week. Just remember not to overeat.

2. Processed sugar– It is the normal sugar that we get from sugar cane or beetroot. Jaggery also comes under this category though it is traditionally made and less processed. It is okay to include 1 -2 teaspoons of sugar or jaggery in the daily diet. So if you struggle to drink tea/coffee without sugar you can think of adding one or half spoon to it.

3. Ultra-processed sugar products – Ultra processed sugar products can be categorized into –
sugary junk and junk with hidden sugar. Both the category is a strict “no” for all.

Sugary junk includes- carbonated beverages, frozen dessert, factory-made cake, chocolate, donut, pastry, brownie, canned fruit juices, cookies, biscuits etc. You can recognize them easily.

Junk with hidden sugar– They are relatively difficult to spot. Most of your (actually all) healthy breakfast cereals, cornflakes, muesli, protein bar, granola, salad dressing, dips, spreads, sauce etc are comes under this category. Do not fall in the trap of “no sugar” or “ zero sugar”. Food companies use at least 65 names for sugar. So even if sugar as in s-u-g-a-r is not mentioned on the label, be assured the products are loaded with sugar with a different name.

Being diabetic you must not even think of this category. Remember these foods are designed to be addictive and you can’t stop having a single small bite. Even a single bite also loaded with sugar that your body can not afford. So the best way to control is not buying them at all.

Depressed? Don’t buy them but make them at home. Yes, a piece of homemade cake is far better than having it from outside. Any of the homemade version contains at least 3 times less sugar than the purchased one. But remember, I have said, one piece once a while.

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Not a diabetic diet –2. Choose quality over quantity for carbohydrates

If you are diabetic, what not you have tried right? You have probably replaced your rice with roti, stopped carbohydrate completely and what not. No, you don’t have to try this hard. All you need to do is focus on your carbohydrate quality over quantity.

Limit consumption of simple carbs – rice, roti, noodles, pasta, bread etc. Add complex carbohydrate, dietary fiber -whole grain, vegetables etc.
Overdoing on whole grain is also not advised. Generally, diabetic patients have multiple other health issues- digestive problems, flatulence, acidity etc. Therefore replacing simple carbs completely with whole grain may worsen the situation. Whole grains take a longer time to digest and release sugar slowly. But remember simple carbs are much lighter on our stomach and easily absorbed. We never eat any simple carbohydrate (rice/roti) alone, we mix it with legumes/ pulses/ vegetables/curd which automatically improves the glycemic index and give lower glycemic load on our body. Consider taking steel cut oats on daily diet.
Let complex carbohydrate (brown rice/ millets/ vegetables) be an important part of your diet along with simple carbs (white rice/ wheat -products).

Not a diabetic diet –3. Go for good fat

Fat is not bad. In fact, all fats are not bad. Fat is essential for our daily diet. Do you know each of our cells contains an essential fat lining (PLP layer)? But you need to be wise enough to choose the good fat. Stop eating processed junk. That gives you a load of bad fat for sure. Instead of going for refined oils, choose cold pressed (kachhi ghani) oils. Groundnut oil, coconut oil, mustard oils are the best choice for Indian cooking. Do not bank on a particular oil for long. Add variety even in case of choosing oil. Add 1-2 teaspoons of ghee (clarified butter) to your meals to give more stable blood glucose level. Always choose good fat over sugar. Yes, that’s the trick.

Not a diabetic diet –4. Stop panicking over protein

Diabetic diet has almost become synonymous to high protein diet. Don’t panic over protein. You were surviving well ever before the high protein concept hit the market. So relax. If you are a vegetarian add variety of pulses, legumes, sprouts, milk, nuts, and seeds your diet. No, you will not be devoid of any amino acids. Just remember to keep the variety. Do not bank on a particular type of pulse, sprouts or seeds. Include many, include less. Consider including sattu in daily diet.

If you are not a vegetarian, you don’t have to start eating 6 egg whites and grilled chicken. Eat fish, egg, chicken, meat but in limitation. Combine animal protein with plant protein. Add variety as much as possible. Remember chicken or meat or fish should be a part of your diet along with cereal, pulses, fruits, vegetables etc. So keep it as just a part.

Not a diabetic diet –5. How much to eat?

It is your body. It is your stomach. You should be well aware of yourself. Food portion size varies from person to person. Your palm size, your fist along with your stomach and brain should guide you on how much to eat.
The thumb rule is – 1/4th of your plate should contain cereal (rice/roti/ bread/ pasta/noodles etc). The other 1/4th should be covered with pulse/legumes/sprouts/ milk/milk products/chicken/fish/egg/meat/seeds/nuts. More than the other 1/4th should be covered with vegetables and less than the last quarter to be filled with fruits.
You should be feeling energetic after a meal if you have eaten the right amount. If you feel sleepy after a meal, be sure you have overeaten way too much.

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Not a diabetic diet –6. Eating tips

1. Chew your food, eat slow
2. Concentrate on food while eating
3. Do not get distracted while eating
4. Plan your meal, arrange your grocery to avoid unnecessary outside eating
5. Try to maintain a fixed time for each meal
6. Remember, there is no control over quality and quantity while eating outside food.
7. Finish your dinner before 8.30 pm
8. Drink enough water every day
9. Write a diet diary every night to stay focused on the healthy diet
10. Indian spices contain medicinal properties. Add cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek etc to daily diet for better blood sugar control.                                    11. Do not become dependant on artificial sweetener. Remember after all they are also chemicals.

Not a diabetic diet – 7. Deep sleep is essential

Yes, not an only diet. Reversing diabetes depends on your overall lifestyle. Diabetes is nothing but hormonal imbalance. Your body needs good 8 hours of deep sleep to reset the hormonal balance. Sleep is not a luxury. It is a necessity to control your blood sugar. If you are suffering from insomnia, try yoga, meditation or other therapy to fix your sleep cycle like a normal human being.

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Not a diabetic diet – 8. Physical activity and exercise

Just like sleep, physical activity and exercise have a huge role to play to create the hormonal balance. You need to concentrate on improving your general fitness to control the blood sugar and to achieve a better insulin response.

Not a diabetic diet – 9. Manage your stress

Today life is stressful for everybody. Every one of us has our own fair share of stress and struggle. Tremendous stress and negativity are well enough to limit your insulin secretion and messing up the hormonal balance. Good sleep, physical activity, exercise and of course a healthy wholesome diet helps to manage your stress level. You must learn to handle your stress. If you can’t take help. There is a various way to do it.


Bottom Line –

A diabetic diet should not be only about restrictions. As a human being, we lack half of our motivation while emphasize been given only on “don’t”s. Reversing diabetes is a proven fact. There are thousands of successful case studies around the globe. All you need is motivation. Stop believing -once diabetes is always diabetes. Adopt positive lifestyle changes. Not only diet, you need to focus on your stress, sleep, activity and exercise. There is no short cut or quick fix to it. The diabetic diet plan is nothing but a healthy diet plan which is the same for everybody. So if you are not a diabetic, you must not wait to become diabetic to follow the dietary guideline. Prevention is always better than cure. So don’t wait. Start adopting it.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • Diasa , 18th March 2019 @ 5:48 pm

    This blog is very useful….

  • justnitablog , 18th March 2019 @ 6:12 pm

    I’ve been a diabetic for 22 years. I’ve went completely Blind for 16 months back in 2010. I had several surgeries. But I only gained vision back in my right eye. So last year I stop eating meat and dairy. Health turned around Alot. But I’m still blind in my left eye. I was reading that the body can repair itself. If your eating healthy. I’m not giving up. I still will continue to eat plant based foods. Thank You so much for your post. Loved it.

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 18th March 2019 @ 6:24 pm

      Thanks a lot for sharing your story. It will definitely give courage to others to keep the fight on. We only realise the importance of the quote- health is wealth only when we are sick. There is no shortcut but to adopt a positive lifestyle to attain wellness. Stay connected for upcoming blogs. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Wish you all the best.

      • justnitablog , 18th March 2019 @ 6:30 pm

        You’re So Welcome. And You’re So Right About That.

  • Pia Promina DasGupta barve , 19th March 2019 @ 5:18 pm

    Most sensible article I have read . However, I would reduce the quantity of carbs on a plate We get carbs from many other sources even in home cooked foods.
    I would like to discuss sprouts with you. i have a theory. besides having diabetes, I am also Nutrition major.

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 19th March 2019 @ 6:33 pm

      Hey, it feels great to hear from you. You are most welcome to share your thoughts with us.

  • Prof.Santa Datta(De) Calcutta University , 20th March 2019 @ 2:27 am

    Thank you for utilising your knowledge of Food & Nutrition for the betterment of the people…………go ahead…….my best wishes will remain with you………Madam

  • Nirman , 29th March 2019 @ 1:36 pm

    It is a nice article. It breaks many myth .
    Please enlighten us with more such articles in future.
    Best wishes.
    Nirman da

  • Priyanka Sadhukhan , 4th June 2019 @ 5:53 pm

    Very practical and excellent to read

  • […] millets are rich in fiber content which is very essential in regulating blood sugar levels. The low glycemic index ( 50.8 ) of this millet is a very good alternative for diabetics low GI […]

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