Being diabetic doesn’t mean you stick to tasteless, bland food all your life! By smartly planning your meals and making the right food choices, you can bring down the blood sugar levels and even reverse Type II Diabetes. Sounds like this is for you? Then, check out this article to understand the benefits of a Diabetes diet plan, along with sample meal charts.
Diet and Diabetes – What is the Relation?
To understand this relationship, you need to know what Diabetes is. It is a condition in which the body fails to produce enough insulin or utilize it properly, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. One of the biggest culprits behind this disorder is poor dietary habits. It is known that a diet laden with carbohydrates, fats and calories causes the HbA1c levels to rise, leading to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. (1)
These excess fat deposits lead to poor secretion of insulin, as well as weight gain and belly fat. In the long run, you might even develop insulin resistance, which can be dangerous to your health.
To prevent this, you must cut down on sugary, fatty and carb-rich foods and replace them with healthy, nutritious meals. This is the exact funda behind a Diabetes diet plan! It involves planning your meals with better food options in the recommended portions.
What are the Best Foods For Diabetes Control?
Doctors recommend a healthy, balanced diet for diabetic patients. Here, the emphasis is on the word ‘balanced’, which means choosing foods from different food groups to cover all the essential nutrients. This includes,
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Starchy foods like grains, pasta
- Protein foods like lentils, eggs, fish, chicken etc.
- Low-fat dairy
- Healthy oils that cover essential fatty acids
NOTE: Not all fruits are ideal for diabetes. Some of them are high in fruit sugars and carbohydrates. It’s important to check the nutrition facts of fruit before including it in your diet
Instead of sticking to just one particular food group, a diabetic meal plan covers all the groups in moderate quantities. Not only is this better for managing Diabetes, but also for improving your overall wellbeing.
See More: Ghritkumari For Lowering Diabetes
Foods That Diabetic Patients Must Avoid:
Apart from choosing the ‘right’ foods, you must also eliminate the ‘wrong’ foods in your diabetes diet. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugars, saturated fats worsen the existing condition and can even lead to heart problems.
So, it’s time to say no to these foods:
- Sugar-laden foods like soda, canned juices, sweets, desserts
- White foods like white rice, white pasta, white bread etc.
- Fried foods like chips, pakoras
- Processed foods like instant meal packs, packaged snacks, baked goods
- Fatty foods like red meat, cheese, butter, full-fat dairy
- Natural sweeteners like honey
Is Low Carb Diet Good For Diabetes?
Yes, say many studies! Research shows that a low-carbohydrate diet is quite effective in lowering blood sugar levels. Patients who followed a low-carb diet for 6 months showed significant improvement in their condition, wherein they either had reduced dependency on medication or were able to discontinue it altogether. (2)
This best diet for diabetes comprises of a low amount of carbohydrates and a high percentage of healthy fats and proteins. By depriving the body of carbohydrates, you are letting it burn the excess fat to produce energy. This leads to fat loss, weight loss and even lowered sugar levels.
Are Fiber-Rich Foods Good For Diabetes?
The dietary fibre present in whole fruits, whole grains and vegetables are critical to managing diabetes. Apart from supporting faster digestion and better bowel movements, fibre also slows down the absorption of sugars. Also, eating fibre-rich foods as part of a diabetic diet plan reduces your hunger pangs and keeps you full for long.
Does a High-Protein Diet Help With Diabetes?
The benefits of a high-protein diet plan for diabetes patients is under constant debate. On one side, diets that are high in proteins and low in carbs are known to promote weight loss and increase lipid metabolism. This in turn, has a positive impact on blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, HP diets are linked to a number of side effects including gastric problems, kidney malfunction and nutrition loss due to food group restriction.
So, it is better to check with a doctor to know whether a high-protein diabetic meal plan is right for your body.
Are Low-Sodium Diets Beneficial For Diabetes Control?
If you are a diabetic patient, Sodium can be your biggest enemy! While Sodium doesn’t directly contribute to a spike in blood sugar levels, it can increase your risk of hypertension and weight gain.
A low-sodium diet that has less than 2300 mg per day can prove to beneficial for diabetes control. This includes cutting down on salt and other sodium-high foods like frozen foods, cheese and butter, bread spreads, sauces, canned juices, instant spice mix etc.
What is a Calorie-based diet for Diabetes?
A Calorie-based diet for people with diabetes is a tailored meal plan that offers holistic nutrition to the body without pumping in excess calories. Typically, a Type-II Diabetes patient will be put on a 1500-2000 calorie diet for a day that comprises of different food groups.
However, this number varies from person to person based on current weight, BMI, health condition, age, physical activity, lifestyle etc.
Which is the Best Diet Plan For Diabetes Patients?
The answer depends on what suits you the best! Each diet plan has its own pros and cons. It works on different food patterns and ratios, which can show various effects on individuals. The common aspect among these diabetes diet plans is that they are healthy, wholesome, low in carbs and calories.
Let us now look into the Top 5 Diet Plans Recommended For Diabetes Control:
1. Vegan diet or Plant-Based Diet:
The vegan diet is regarded as one of the safest and effective diets for diabetes management. By cutting down meat, dairy and other animal products, you are sourcing all the proteins, carbohydrates and essential fats from plants. These are low in cholesterol and saturated fat which can help in lowering blood sugar levels when combined with a physical exercise program.
2. Vegetarian Diet:
A study shows that a vegetarian diet that is high in plant-based foods and low in animal-derived foods is the most beneficial for managing and preventing Diabetes Mellitus. (3) However, the perception of the term “Vegetarian” changes across cultures.
To some, Vegetarian is strictly plant-based or vegan, to the others, vegetables with eggs and dairy and to many of them, seafood and rare consumption of meat. It is known that people who followed a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet comprising of whole foods and low-fat dairy is best for controlling Diabetes.
3. DASH Diet:
The DASH diet plan, short form for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is recommended for diabetes management as well. It comprises mostly of plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, with a limited allowance on lean protein, salt, sugar and fats.
A study also reveals that the DASH diet, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, can lower the risk of Type-2 Diabetes and improve insulin sensitivity. (4)
4. Mediterranean Diet:
A Mediterranean diet is composed of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread and pasta, legumes, olive oil, oily fish and lean poultry. It covers all the essential nutrients required by the body like vitamins, minerals, healthy unsaturated fatty acids, proteins etc. which can be beneficial in managing diabetes.
5. Paleo Diet:
A Paleo diet also called the Caveman’s diet, is designed to follow the eating habits of the paleolithic humans. This means saying no to all forms of processed foods, dairy etc. and sticking to whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, lean meat, herbs, seeds etc.
As this diet eliminates all the bad foods like sugars, dairy, fried foods etc., it can prove to be beneficial in managing diabetes.
Sample Indian Meal For Diabetes Patients:
It is a myth that switching to a Diabetic plan means giving up on staple Indian foods like rice, sweets and your favourite coffee or chai. But, in reality, you don’t have to do that!
An Indian Diabetic-friendly meal plan is all about eating in moderation and creating a proper nutritional balance.
Here is a sample Indian Diabetes diet chart plan for one day to help you get started:
Start your day with a glass of lukewarm fennel or methi water, green tea
After 30 minutes, you can have
- 1 Cup Masala Oats Upma/ Wheat Dalia Upma/ 1 Moong Cheela/ 2 Dosa (less oil)
- 1 Portion boiled vegetables or cut fruits
- One Cup Milk, Coffee or Tea with less or no sugar or unsalted buttermilk
Mid Morning Snack:
- 1 Cup Green Tea/ Herbal Tea
- 1 Cup Masala Murmura or Oil-free snack
- Or 1 whole fruit (orange, apple, pear, guava etc.)
- 1 Cup Salad
- 2 Chapatis or 1 Cup Brown rice or 1 Cup Millets
- 1 Big Bowl Sabzi (cooked in less oil)
- One Cup Dal
- 1 Cup low-fat Yoghurt or Curd
- 2-3 Pieces of lean meat like Chicken or Fish
- 1 Cup Tea with less or no sugar
- 1 Cup Boiled Chana or Peanuts
- Or 1 Cup BhelPuri
- Or 1 Vegetable Sandwich without Cheese or Butter
- 1 Bowl Vegetable Salad
- One Cup Dhaliya Khichdi or 1 Cup Mix veg brown rice pulao or 2 Wheat Phulkas
- 1 Cup Sabzi with Chicken/Veg/Fish
- 1 Glass lean Buttermilk
NOTE: This is a generalized plan which must be used as a reference only. You must consult a dietician or a nutritionist to chalk out a meal that that best suits your specific individual needs.
Lifestyle For Diabetes:
Diabetes is mainly caused due to lifestyle issues. Overeating, sedentary work style, lack of exercise, irregular sleeping habits and too much stress lead to Diabetes. One must make some simple lifestyle changes to deal with this issue:
1. Eat Healthily:
If you are hungry, choose healthy eating options for diabetic patients like fruits or low-fat snacks, instead of oily, junk food.
Exercise if indispensable to diabetic patients. You need to start an exercise regime that includes multiple activities like walking, cycling, jogging. Set goals and try to reach them.
3. Regular Checkups:
You need to go for regular blood checkups to ensure your glucose levels are maintained well. Also, keep a home kit handy to check them regularly.
One must manage stress to deal with diabetes. Yoga and meditation can help you maintain peace of mind and help you control your emotions
Workout Plan For Diabetes Patients:
The workout is indispensable to diabetic patients. It is recommended to combine some of these exercise forms to help you maintain your blood sugar levels:
- Brisk walking
- Low-impact aerobic
- Stair Climbing
You need to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise regime per day, for at least 5 days a week. Slowly increase your activities and include more variety of physical exercises.
So, the point that we are trying to make with this article is that a Diabetes diet plan can be healthy and delicious at the same time! You need not starve yourself or restrict your tastebuds to overcome this disorder. Just follow a well-balanced diet with an active lifestyle to manage your blood sugar levels and lead a happy, healthy life!
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is purely for informational purposes only. It must not be considered as a replacement for the doctor’s advice. Also, diet plans have various kinds of effects on individuals and hence, you must always check with your medical practitioner before trying it out.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is it a Zero-Carb Diet Plan Recommended for Diabetes?
Absolutely no! Not just for diabetes, but even for healthy individuals, a zero-carb diet can give you more side effects than benefits. Our body requires a minimum amount of carbohydrates to fuel the system and feel energetic. At the same time, a carbo-negative diet comprises of high proteins and fats which can amp up the cholesterol levels in the body. This can have severe consequences on your health.
2. Should I completely Cut Down on Sweets If I’m Diabetic?
If you have a sweet tooth, you might find it hard to follow a diabetic plan. However, diabetics can have sweets, but in moderation. It is even better to replace traditional fat and sugar laden sweets with natural desserts like yoghurt, frozen fruit sorbets, dates etc. Along with satisfying your sweet cravings, these foods can also pump up good nutrients.
3. What is the Role of Exercise in Managing Diabetes?
No matter how healthy your diet is, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, the calories end up sitting in your body as fat deposits. So, exercise is a must for managing Type-II Diabetes. It is recommended to indulge in atleast 20-30 minutes of any physical activity like walking, jogging or a workout to maximise the benefits of a Diabetic meal plan.