Getting a healthy and balanced diet is very important for people with diabetes. Eating a healthy diet will help you to:
- Control blood sugars
- Control blood cholesterol
- Control blood pressure
- Keep to a healthy weight
All carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels, so be aware of how much you eat and stick to healthy portion sizes. Include some sources of healthy carbohydrates from foods high in fibrelike wholegrain starchy foods like wholemeal bread and cereals, fruit and vegetables, pulses and some dairy along with your everyday rice.
Cut The Fat
Eat less fat, especially saturated fat. It’s found in foods like butter and cheese, red and processed meat, coconut oil, ghee, cakes and pastries. Oils like mustard, olive, rice bran, peanut and gingelly oils are good options.
Avoid fried foods as far as possible.
Proteins from vegetable sources like pulses, soy, grams, peas, low fat milk, low fat curd, fish and lean meat are recommended.
Fish is a good source of protein and contains omega 3 fatty acids, which help to keep your heart healthy.
Pulses are a great source of proteins, low in fat, high in fibre and full of vitamins and minerals.
Traditional Indian diets that includes whole grains with whole pulseslike grams, soy, green leafy vegetables and some fruits are ideal. A portion of a fruit is roughly what fits in the palm of your hand, like an apple or one medium sized banana. Fruit juices are best avoided. Having fruits as a whole is encouraged. Fruits are to be taken in moderation whereas plenty of vegetables can be added to the diet (avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes).
Cut Back On Salt
Most of the salt we consume comes from processed food. Kindly read the food labels and choose low-salt options where possible. Try to avoid salty food items like pickles, pappads, etc.
Cut Back On The Sugar
Added sugar and/or sugary foods aren’t needed for a healthy diet, so it’s good to limit how much we eat. Foods like chocolate, cakes, biscuits and sweets should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.
It’s best to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. On an average we need 2 litres of water a day.
Exercise is an essential part of managing diabetes especially type 2. But, in general exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces the risk of heart disease, strengthens our muscles and bones, reduces stress levels and improves sleep.
How much to aim for?
All of us should try to spend less time sitting down and spend more time on our feet.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense activity at least 5 days a week. Moderate intensity means – breathing is increased but you can talk comfortably like walking briskly, cycling on flat ground or a leisurely swim.
Also, try to do muscle strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week like squats or lunges, strenuous gardening or yoga.
- Choose a longer route while walking.
- Use the steps instead of the lift or escalator.
- Park your car or scooter farther away and walk.
- Walk to the shops to pick up a few items.
- Use health apps on your phones to keep track of your steps – aim for 10,000 steps a day.
Around eighty percent of the people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
This increase in weight may be because we eat more or have minimal physical activity or most often both of the above.
Why It Matters
There are heaps of evidence showing that losing weight if you are overweight improves blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and cuts down the risk of developing long-term health problems like heart diseases. Most people find they feel better, look better and have more confidence.
Why It Matters More With Type 2 Diabetes
Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to manage type 2 diabetes. Carrying extra weight especially around your belly can lead to your body being more resistant to the insulin you make, so it works less well. So, losing weight will help to improve this.
The best way to lose weight is by eating less and being more active. You need to find something that fits with your life and a way of eating you can stick to.
Some days will be better than others. There will be ups and downs. Even if you don’t manage to reach your ideal weight don’t worry, if it’s going in the right direction then that’s great. Every small step you take you will be making a difference to your diabetes and how well you feel.