Diet in diabetes is of the most important tool for control of blood glucose levels which vary on a day-to-day basis depending upon the meal composition, meal time, medications and physical activity levels.

Traditional Indian diets with lots of fibre minus refined sugars, low intake of fat and moderate amounts of protein generally form the basis of the diet.

Following are some general guidelines to be followed:

  • Eat the right amount of food at the right time and don’t skip meals. Avoid hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Fasting of any sort should strictly be restricted.
  • In case your after-meal blood glucose is high, eat less carbohydrates e.g. choose fewer carbohydrate foods like potatoes, rice, noodles, white bread, cornflakes and banana. Include fats or proteins in the meals e.g. grilled fish, sprouted legumes, pulses, curds etc.
  • Eat more fibre at meals e.g. lightly cooked vegetables, salads, soups, sprouts, soybean, fenugreek etc.
  • Eat prescribed fruits in between meals e.g. mid-morning or bedtime. Skip desserts.
  • Foods which cause sharp rise in blood sugar levels should be avoided e.g. table sugar, jaggery, honey, jams, ice-creams, sweets, biscuits, chocolates, puddings, cakes, cookies, soft drinks, fruit juices, glucose, oily pickles, murrabba (chunda), mayonnaise, sugar-containing health drinks etc.

By following the above guidelines, overweight diabetics are benefited to up to 8%-10% reduction in weight.

The method of cooking is important. Ideal cooking methods are boiling, steaming, stewing (with a little gravy), dry roasting, grilling (tandoor), baking, poaching and stir frying (with very less oil).

Apart from diet control, regular exercise of 20-30minutes per day helps in reducing insulin resistance and thereby blood sugar level control.

Geeta Shenoy
Consultant dietician and nutritionist