The Diabetic Nutritional Strategy

Healthy lifestyle modifications alone can help you reap great rewards in case you have diabetes or suffer from the risk of diabetes. In case you are 1obese, simply reducing 10% of your weight can help in lowering your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

And losing weight is not attributed solely to exercise – the key to losing weight is sensible eating.

People with diabetes do not need to follow a complicated diet plan – their nutritional requirements are similar to non-diabetics. A diabetic meal plan includes a nutritious, balanced diet low in fats and containing a reasonable amount of calories. You MUST exercise caution with your carbohydrate intake.

Here are some tips that you can incorporate concerning the diet that you follow:

Consume whole grains and lean proteins: Most Americans have grown up eating white bread sandwiches, pasta and refined white rice. You love ‘refined’ because you understand ‘refined’ as ‘polished’ or ‘free from impurities’, don’t you? Well, in reality, ‘refined’ implies ‘free from nutrition.’

All the great, nutritious stuff is refined out from the food material and what you are left with is a bunch of empty calories! Now that surely is alarming, isn’t it?

Whole grains, on the other hand, constitute your powerful punch of nutrition. They are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals, vitamins, iron, fibre, magnesium and vitamin E. Elevating your daily consumption of whole grains can help you diminish the risk of cancer, stroke, heart diseases along with diabetes.

Let us look at what can be classified as a whole grain? I shall attempt to explain this via the structure of seed. The seed comprises of three parts:

  • The bran
  • The germ
  • The endosperm

The process of refining removes certain parts of the seed. Wheat, rice, barley, oats, quinoa, etc. are all whole grains if consumed in their ‘whole’ form – that is without the removal of any part of the seed.

Talking about protein now – Protein is essential for physical development and growth. Seven grams of protein per twenty pounds of body weight is recommended for consumption every day. Proteins contain essential amino acids which are necessary for life but cannot be solely manufactured by humans. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains can be called incomplete proteins because they are deficient in at least one of the essential amino acids. Animal proteins are considered to be complete proteins as they possess all the essential amino acids required by the human body. Lean meat is considered as the best source of protein. Nuts, beans, poultry and fish, are some high protein choices for people with diabetes.

Consume unsaturated fats, and only Fats impart a great taste to your food. You cannot cut down on fats altogether. You must not! This is because fats contain essential fatty acids that can enable you to control blood pressure, inflammation and blood clotting. Controlling blood pressure and inflammation is extremely important in managing diabetes.

There are two kinds of fats:

The good fats or the unsaturated fats which are further classified as monounsaturated fats (olive oil is the most popular one in this category) or the polyunsaturated fats (these are present in sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn oil).

The bad fats which can be further broken down into saturated fats (found in cheese, butter, whole milk ice-cream, fatty meats, palm and coconut oils) and the trans fats (found in fried, processed, pre-packaged foods).

Saturated fats can lead to heart diseases, inflammation, diabetes and even cancer. Trans fats are considered to be the most dangerous ones here.

The monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, can diminish the level of bad cholesterol and elevate the levels of good cholesterol in your body. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fats – these are extremely important for the human body. However, do ensure that you are consuming a higher amount of omega-3 than omega-6.

Consume one great source of omega-3 fatty acids every day: Here are some of the benefits of consuming one great source of omega-3 fatty acids every day:

Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing the inflammation present in your body. This also reduces the risk of inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, etc.

They lower the risk of diabetes and also help in diminishing insulin resistance in people impacted by diabetes.

Omega-3’s also eliminated the risk of certain kinds of cancer such as breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.

They elevate your bone density.

Omega-3’s are particularly helpful in skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

They help in elevating your brain chemicals – serotonin and dopamine.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been known to help with cognitive and visual skills.

They can even eliminate the risk of Alzheimer’s.

They reduce the risk of hypertension, blood clots and atherosclerosis.

There are three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids:

EPA: sourced from marine mammals

DHA: sourced from marine mammals

ALA: sourced from plant oils

All three possess the capability to block the inflammation-causing compounds in your body. This lowers the risk of diabetes. 

Here are some excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

EPA: Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, Shark, Sea bass

DHA: Wild Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Shark, Sardines, Omega-3 enriched eggs

ALA: Walnuts, Flaxseeds, Soybean oil, Canola oil, Omega-3 enriched eggs, Flax oils, Sardines

And now let us talk about the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. So, what is the recommended ratio?

It is important to understand that omega-6 fatty acids, if consumed in large quantities, produce arachidonic acid which elevates the inflammation in your body. Omega-6 fatty acids are therefore considered to be pro-inflammatory while omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. Anything that is pro-inflammatory is BAD for people with diabetes.

The traditional hunter-gatherer diet or the Eskimo diet maintained a ratio of 1:1. This has increased at an alarming rate today. The processed and prepackaged food has made matters worse. Although it is highly recommended that you cut down on excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, what matters most is that you are consuming a great source of omega-3 fatty acids every day.

Your best bet for fast food should be veggies and fruits: Fruits and vegetables constitute the perfect fast food.

Hungry? That packet of instant noodles will still take two minutes, grab an apple and take a bite!

The fibre in veggies and fruits can bind to the cholesterol and therefore, facilitate flushing it out of the bloodstream. The recommended intake of fruits and vegetables for an adult male or a teenage boy is around nine servings. Women and adolescent girls should aim at a minimum of seven servings. Try increasing your intake of veggies and fruits by adding one extra meal every week. The next chapter is focused on specific foods that you should or should not eat. Do read that before getting started.

Eliminate prepackaged and processed food from your diet: I cannot emphasize the importance of eliminating refined carbohydrates, processed and pre-packaged food from your diet. These are empty calories that lead to many health problems, including diabetes and obesity.

Since all frozen meals, breakfast bars, canned fruits, biscuits, margarine, juices with added sugar, pasta, white rice, white bread, white flour, cookies, cakes, fried meals, etc. are all refined and processed – these should be eliminated from your diet. I understand that it is not realistically possible to eliminate these foods from your diet. However, I would still recommend that you consume them with caution – as sparingly as possible!

Eat at regular intervals: It is essential to understand that you only need to reduce 7% of your body weight to reduce the risk of diabetes dramatically. The best approach that works with diabetics is:

Keeping track of what you eat and Following a regular eating schedule

Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you have a regular eating schedule:

Never miss breakfast. For people with diabetes, it is the most important meal of the day. A good, healthy and nourishing breakfast is recommended for balancing your blood sugar levels and maintaining energy.

Eat regular, small meals six times a day. Frequent eating ensures that you keep a check on your portion size and also eliminate the risk of hypoglycemia.

Work on your calorie intake. You must ensure that the number of calories you consume in each meal, as well as the calories that you consume each day, are the same. This has a direct impact on the maintenance of blood glucose levels. fruits and veggies for an adult male or a teenage boy is around nine servings. Women and teenage girls should aim at a minimum of seven servings. Try increasing your intake of veggies and fruits by adding one extra serving every week. The next chapter is focused on specific foods that you should or should not eat. Do read that before getting started.

Eliminate prepackaged and processed food from your diet: I cannot emphasize the importance of eliminating refined carbohydrates, processed and pre-packaged food from your diet. These are empty calories that lead to many health problems, including diabetes and obesity.

Since all frozen meals, breakfast bars, canned fruits, biscuits, margarine, juices with added sugar, pasta, white rice, white bread, white flour, cookies, cakes, fried meals, etc. are all refined and processed – these should be eliminated from your diet. I understand that it is not realistically possible to eliminate these foods completely from your diet. However, I would still recommend that you consume them with caution – as sparingly as possible!

Eat at regular intervals: It is important to understand that you only need to reduce 7% of your body weight in order to reduce the risk of diabetes dramatically. The best approach that works with diabetics is:

Keeping track of what you eat and Following a regular eating schedule Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you have a regular eating schedule:

Never miss breakfast. For people with diabetes, it is the most important meal of the day. A good, healthy and nourishing breakfast is recommended for balancing your blood sugar levels and maintaining energy.

Eat regular, small meals six times a day. Frequent eating ensures that you keep a check on your portion size and also eliminate the risk of hypoglycemia.

Work on your calorie intake. You must ensure that the number of calories you consume in each meal, as well as the calories that you consume each day, are the same. This has a direct impact on the maintenance of blood glucose levels.

Eat slowly and stop when you are full. People who eat hastily almost always tend to overeat.

When it comes to keeping track of what you eat, nothing beats a food journal. People who maintain a food journal shed weight twice as fast as people who don’t. They can even maintain their slim self, solely through their food journal.

Writing down what you eat helps you recognize whenever you cheat on your calories and helps you make mindful, sensible, and smart food choices. As you write down the how, why, and what of eating, you may realize that with you, overeating is always a result of stress. So, maybe that is an area that we need to work upon!