You’ve just had your blood tests done, and the results have you terrified – you have diabetes!
The dietary restrictions of diabetes can easily frighten a food lover. But don’t despair yet, diabetes is manageable with medicine and just a few changes to your lifestyle. Although exercise and sleeping properly have an impact on managing diabetes – the real winner here is food.
The first step to making a change is to understand the condition. In a non-diabetic person, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which regulates the blood sugar and converts it into energy. However, in the case of a diabetes patient, the body is unable to produce enough insulin and so is not able to balance the sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetics have to take insulin in the form of injections to regulate sugar levels in the body. Along with a healthy lifestyle, control over food has to be maintained to ensure that the medicine is effective.
Diabetes and Carbohydrates
The first step to a healthy diabetes diet is to be aware of the differences between good (complex) and bad (simple) carbohydrates. Complex carbs have a slower absorption rate as compared to simple carbs, thus controlling the blood glucose levels in your body. Diabetics are often told to count carbs and make a note of what they are eating to keep their diabetes in check.
A common misconception is that diabetic people should avoid sugar altogether. While it is true that sugar is problematic for a variety of health reasons, it is found in nearly every kind of food and hence impossible to avoid. Therefore, sugar can be consumed in moderation, but to do this, diabetes patients must refrain from foods with excessive sugar content.
The glycemic index (GI) of any food item indicates how quickly the body can absorb the sugars from food. The higher the ranking, the higher the sugar content in the food. But keeping blood sugar levels in check does not mean that you have to survive only on bland and tasteless food.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
It’s common knowledge that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not only for diabetes patients but for everyone. But with the number of restrictions that come with diabetes, figuring out what to eat for breakfast can be a struggle for many people with diabetes. Fortunately, food for diabetics need only be altered in minor ways.
A healthy breakfast for a person with diabetes has to include complex carbohydrates, along with the required amount of proteins and fiber. Food for diabetics should also score low on the glycemic index and contain low fat and sugar. As long as you keep these requirements in mind, any home-cooked food can be eaten for breakfast.
Given below are a few options to consider while deciding on healthy breakfast options.
1. Breakfast Shakes
Breakfast shakes are milk or yogurt-based beverages. They include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and several dried seeds. The shakes work well as a meal replacement as the addition of all the ingredients fulfills the calorie quota for breakfast. The inclusion of nuts and fruits provide the body with the needed nutrients to break the fast after sleeping. Preparing all the ingredients for the shake the previous night itself saves time early the next morning. These easy-to-digest shakes are perfect for people who exercise to keep their weight in check.
In general, eggs are considered to be very healthy to consume. The yolk is rich in carbohydrates, and the egg whites are full of proteins. Eggs can be had in multiple ways. Usually, in deference to diabetes, it is better to prepare recipes using only egg whites. Omelets, filled with vitamin-rich vegetables, provide a balanced breakfast. However, although eggs are healthy, their consumption needs to be moderated as they contain high cholesterol levels. People with diabetes have to keep their cholesterol in check as they are more prone to cardiovascular diseases. Having an egg-based breakfast once or twice a week should be enough to maintain blood sugar levels.
3. Millets Upma
Millets are very good for the human body. Millets have a low GI index and are rich in minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. It contains vital vitamins needed by the body to remain at optimal health. Breakfast dishes made out of millets are beneficial to diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Upma is an item prepared by cooking millets and vegetables together. It is one of the healthier Indian breakfasts that can be consumed.
Dosas and idlis are easy to make and considered to be a substantial and nutritious meal. But consuming traditional idlis and dosas for breakfast is not the correct option for diabetics, as they are made out of rice, one of the main culprits of unhealthy carbs. Replacing refined rice with healthier options like millets and adding in shredded vegetables makes it a healthy choice for people with diabetes. Ragi (finger millets) is an excellent substitute for rice and is one of the most consumed grains in southern India.
5. Oats Porridge
Oats porridge prepared with milk or water is a very healthy breakfast option for diabetics. It can be made with milk or water and sweetened with either honey or some sugar substitute. Oats have a low glycemic index and provide the necessary amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, and fat. Oats can also be powdered and mixed with nuts and honey to create energy bars. These bars can be stored in airtight jars and be consumed as snacks.
Managing a healthy diet is essential to keep diabetes under control. In addition to changing the choice of food, one also has to ensure that they track their diet to manage calories, track macronutrients and to keep the doctor informed.
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