Diabetes is one of the biggest health risks we expose ourselves to on an everyday basis. However, diabetes has less to do with the soaring blood sugar levels and more to do with making choices that keep the symptoms in control. From a diet rich in refined, processed foods to the sedentary lifestyle we are used to, everything seems to be a contributing factor. However, the infinite bounties of nature hold the solution that can keep you aggravating health in check.
Diabetes is of two types. The mechanism behind each type is different and thus there must be different tactics and different diet charts to keep the blood sugar levels in check. The following are a list of a few food items listed against each type of diabetes that can help every diabetic get an upper hand over the disease.
The Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes or, juvenile-onset diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes occurs in five to ten percent of the population. This kind of diabetes id autoimmune, i.e. the body itself destructs the cells secreting insulin, creating a total lack of the compound in the system. The absence of insulin is the chief reason why the body cannot absorb glucose and make efficient use of the same to produce energy.
Type 2 diabetes, otherwise called adult-onset diabetes, or non insulin dependent diabetes occurs majorly in adults but keeping the recent statistics into consideration, the disease has been become prevalent in children too. The chances of occurrence of type 2 diabetes are a whopping ninety to ninety five percent. Here, in this case, insulin is produced, but the body cannot put it into use; a phenomenon clinically termed as insulin resistance.
Food Items for Type 1 Diabetics
Ideally, a type 1 diabetic must adhere to the basic guidelines, which comprise of low sodium, low carbohydrates and limited sugar in the diet. The basic idea remains to eat healthy by cutting down on snacks, sugar-y foods, or well, anything that spike the blood sugar levels by multiple notches in a short period of time.
What to Eat:
- Breakfast– Ideally, the breakfast should be heavy rich in fibrous carbohydrates. From oats to cereals, fruits like berries and citrus fruits and dairy options like yoghurt and skimmed milk, breakfast is filling yet not high on either sugar or fats. The fiber in the carbohydrates will ensure that ample energy is spent in digesting the carbohydrates. It is absorbed slowly into the blood stream, which allows maximum usage of the carbohydrates consumed. It also controls those mid-meal hunger pangs, which unless one is extremely careful, can take a toll on the health.
- Lunch– For lunch, a type 1 diabetic must ideally have some proteins along with some carbohydrates. Healthy options like brown rice, brown bread, whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat breads are the way to go. Again, the fiber content of the same ensures that the blood sugar levels do not fluctuate since often this raging blood sugar level can damage vital organs like eyes, liver and kidneys. Strictly refrain from white rice because of its high sugar content. For a healthy source of protein, it is ideal to opt for lean meat like chicken or pork or duck. A seared duck breast or chicken breast along with some vegetables or some pasta for lunch is a very good idea (because of the absence of complex fats, as much as the sugar content!) if you have wanted to become healthy lately.
- Snacks: For snacks, raw fruits and vegetables are the way to go. Fresh or frozen, raw fruits and vegetables make great munchies. Sticks of celery, cucumber and carrot with hummus with a generous helping of olive oil is high on antioxidants and nutrition value whereas simple salads with light dressings can take care of those cravings for away longer than one can imagine. They are a great replacement for the creamy evening coffee and the cookie, which is loaded with refined flour and sugar. Trust us, skipping coffee never felt well.
- Dinner: Soups and light stews and stir-fries are ideal for dinner. For dinner, it is essential to keep it minimal. Since you will not need any energy for doing any physical work, you may want to skip it. However, some lean meat like chicken is the ideal choice for the protein consumed at nighttime when broken down can be used up for repairs. The oil used for cooking must be either olive oil or rice bran oil. Both of them are rich in an essential fatty acid called omega3 fatty acid, which improves your cardiovascular health.
What Not to Eat and other precautionary measures
Foods with high Glycemic Index (GI) including bread, sugar laden food items including energy bars and packaged food are a big no, and for obvious reasons. Here are a few other guidelines, which will help type 1 diabetics stick to their plan in a better way.
- Do not opt for packaged energy bars. Prepare them at home with organic honey, raisins, prunes, granola, oats, cashews, almonds and walnuts. Nuts are high on vitamins and minerals, which will meet the body’s micro-nutritional needs and keep you healthy from within.
- Never sprinkle raw salt on your vegetables and salads. Either get your hands on table salt or simply, dry roast some salt in the oven and store it in a jar and use it when you feel that your food needs salt.
- Never cut down on spices but avoid creating any complexity between complex fats and spices. Spices like chili flakes, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme, cumin seeds render their earthy flavors to the food making it more appetizing.
- Choose your fruits and vegetables wisely. For example, ripe mangoes are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates whereas citrus fruits like grapefruits, sweet lime and oranges are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that aid the detoxification process and supplies ubiquinone, an essential compound for the electron transport system, a pathway in the process of conversion of ATP, the energy currency of the body.
- Again, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and beetroot greens are great for you. They contain folates, important minerals and other compounds required in very small amounts but are very crucial in jumpstarting important metabolic reactions that play a key role in the maintenance of the body.
Food Items for Type 2 Diabetics
Type 2 diabetes often has a few symptoms including frequent urges to urinate, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and dizziness. A good diet will help type 2 diabetics to put these symptoms under control. Keep your basics straight and utilize this knowledge to keep your meals a healthy choice.
What to Eat:
Fruits like berries and fat free yogurts work wonders for type 2 diabetics. The antioxidants from the berries pair beautifully with the milk protein and the lactic acid in the yogurt to render a beautiful mix of nutrients. Yogurt for breakfast ensures that there are enough good bacteria in your gut to digest your food effectively and push out all the wastes from the colon to the rectum for discarding. If you are looking for something savory then two slices of whole-wheat toast along with mashed avocadoes are the way to go. Again, the low glycemic index (GI) of the toast combines beautifully with the vitamin C of the avocadoes. The cheesy spreads and the jams and jellies with their high sugar content spike the blood sugar levels and is definitely not good for your health.
For type 2 diabetics, a good amount of seafood is recommended. From mussels to lobsters, prawns and some fishes like mackerel, pomfret, salmon and the likes, which are low on fats are great for you. Dieticians recommend at least two to three servings of seafood in a diabetic’s lunch on a weekly basis. Again, lean meat like turkey, chicken and duck are great sources of protein. Lentils, another good source of plant protein, are best served with whole wheat bread or brown rice. Again, you must pay attention to the glycemic index of carbohydrates.
Snacks are particularly difficult for type 2 diabetics. The options, initially highly restricted, have experienced a significant boost because of human creativity. Microgreens and sprouts salads with generous helpings of lemon juice and tomatoes amongst other vegetables are good sources of energy. Tomatoes are rich in potassium and vitamins A and Vitamin C. Fruits like apples, pears, grapes and grapefruits along with segments of oranges are loaded with rare nutrients. Consumed individually or as a smoothie or just cut roughly and assembled into a fruit salad, they are great snacking options. Even nuts and dry fruits are good snacking options too. Raw or, dry roasted nuts are packed with energy.
Some whole-wheat pasta or soups and salads are very healthy dinner options. Replacing your regular oil with cold pressed olive oil is a simple change that makes your food multiple notches higher on the health quotient. Roasted lean meats, lasagna, tortillas, quesadillas minus the massive toppings of cheese and whatnot, are another bunch of healthy dinner options. Try not to eat until you are full. Always leave five to ten percent space in your stomach for proper digestion. Early dinners are equally helpful and help combat gas, acidity, heartburn and bloating, which can result from irregular time span between meals and hitting the bed straight after dinner. Instead, eat your dinner, head out for a walk and then get to sleep.
What Not to Eat and other precautionary measures:
- Avoid deli meats and dogs since they contain significantly high amounts of sodium and preservatives that spike the blood pressure level at once. This rise in blood pressure often affects the eyes and can lead to permanent loss of eyesight.
- Refine white flour has a very high glycemic index. From cookies to croissants and doughnuts, everything is made of refined flour. They dissolve quickly and contribute to obesity, another pointer that diabetics must take care of.
- Full fat dairy is again rich in unnecessary fats and sugar. Packaged flavored milk again is loaded with artificial sweeteners and preservatives that are good for your health. Instead, opt for skimmed and semi-skimmed milk products that have been toned down to remove the unnecessary fats.
- Corn, potatoes and peas are a few starchy vegetables. These vegetables if consumed on a regular basis and for a prolonged period of time can lead to various complications. Sweet potato, though rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A and other minerals, is extremely high on sugar. Thus, sweet potato is one vegetable that diabetics need to avoid on a permanent basis.
- Canned fruits are often soaked in sugar syrup. This sugar syrup not only reduces the nutritional value of the fruit but also is very unhealthy because of its preservatives content. Always eat whole fruits since cutting and chewing them with your teeth consumes energy and allows you to reap maximum benefits since the fiber content is intact.
- Butter, cheese, hydrogenated oil are other items in the list of foods you must avoid if you are a diabetic. Butter and cheese are processed from full-fat milk. The saturated fats in these items are not good for your liver and encourage obesity.
- Explore your options to find different cuisines like Greek and Mexican food. They use hung yogurt and fresh par cooked vegetables, which are very healthy. Embrace the good and cut out the ingredients that may disturb your health.
Food is a basic necessity. Every day, you are given a choice of goes inside your body. Knowing that what works and what does not work for you and then taking your pick is the wisest thing to do. Exercise your choice by gaining some knowledge about the rights and wrongs. Stick to the plan with some dedication and what seems impossible will be available right at your disposal.