Medu Vada always was and still is my most favourite snack. When there is a plate of hot crispy vadas, with coconut chutney and sambar sitting in front of me…the feeling is of heaven on earth. Not all of you may have this feeling, but I am sure there is that one favourite food that you will kill for.

The main ingredient in medu vada is urad dal. Let us quickly go through its benefits as far as diabetics go. Urad dal has carbs but is rich in fibre and protein. This helps us regulate our blood sugar levels and keep them in the permissible range. Apart from this urad dal helps in improving digestion, keeps the heart healthy, boosts energy, improves bone health and helps reduce pain and inflammation.

Now how does this wonder food become unhealthy for diabetics when served in an Udipi restaurant?

Possible reasons:

  1. Portion size: 2 large-sized medu vadas are too much to be consumed in one go. Even the best of ingredients consumed in disproportionate quantities will be counterproductive and will result in your sugar levels spiking.
  2. The sambar served with the vadas contains sugar. This is done for the palate of the vast majority that eats in these restaurants. Eventually the restaurants themselves are compelled to serve that particular taste they have conditioned all of us to over the years.

Possible solutions:

  1. Go with somebody who will share the food with you. Over years I have realized that we eat too much when we eat out and then feel miserable. Simply cut the quantity to half and you will get the best of both worlds…the taste and the desired sugar levels.
  2. If you are eating alone, pack the balance and take it home. Or better share it with a hungry child on the street. It will help improve the underfed-overfed lop-sided ratios in our country. As a diabetic I am sure we all appreciate the value of food much more than our non-diabetic counterparts do. Let’s take this understanding in a direction that will be valued.
  3. Don’t have the sambar. I remember calling for another bowl for the second vada when I was unaware. Have your vada with the chutney. You can ask for more chutney.
  4. Don’t eat in a hurry. Go slow and internalize every bite. Relax, breathe.
  5. Choose the most appropriate time. For example having it for breakfast will be more advisable as you will go about your daily chores after that and will burn some of those calories in the process. Having it for dinner may just not help.
  6. Last but not least, let’s stop thinking of this gamut of south Indian dishes on the Udipi menu as snacks; they are calorie-loaded heavy meals in themselves.

Lastly as promised…my readings have ranged between 140 and 180 – 2 hours after having medu vadas at various restaurants at various times of the day. The best have been in the mornings and the worst at nights.  You are free to take your pick.