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Diabetes Mellitus, commonly known as Diabetes, is a name given to a group of metabolic diseases that leads to the increase in blood glucose levels and keeps it at an increased level for a prolonged period of time. Diabetes is caused either due to the failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin, or the incapability of the cells of the body to utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas. Diabetes is a chronic condition, and although there is no known cure for this disease, blood sugar can be maintained at normal levels and the complications can be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle, maintaining body weight through a balanced diet chart and regular exercise. The common symptoms of diabetes are frequent urination, increased thirst, sudden weight loss, slowed down healing of cuts and sores, blurred vision, irritability and presence of ketones in urine.
3 Main Types of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes, and all three types are treatable.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is the least common form of diabetes, and only 10% of diabetes cases fall under this type. It is also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes because in this case; the beta cells of the pancreas fail to produce insulin. People affected by Type 1 Diabetes develop it in their teenage years or early adulthood. Patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes have to depend on insulin injections for the rest of their lives along with a proper diet plan for diabetic patients.
Type 2 Diabetes
This is the more common form of diabetes, and almost 90% of diabetes cases fall under Type 2 Diabetes. In this case, the cells of the body become resistant to the insulin produced by the pancreas and do not react to the insulin. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be effectively controlled by following a well-planned type 2 diabetes diet plan and plenty of exercises and monitoring blood glucose levels at regular intervals. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as a person gets older.
This type of diabetes only affects women during their pregnancy. Women, with no previous history of diabetes, can have high blood sugar levels during their pregnancy. Although the exact reason of gestational diabetes is not known yet, it is believed that the placenta of the mother that supplies hormones to the growing baby also blocks the effects of insulin in the mother’s body or causes insulin resistance. Therefore, the body cannot utilize the glucose properly, leading to glucose build-up in the blood. The prevalence of gestational diabetes is 9.2%. If it remains untreated, gestational diabetes can create complications during childbirth.
Long Term Effects of Diabetes on Health
High blood sugar levels for a prolonged period of time can have serious effects on health. Uncontrolled and untreated high blood glucose levels can lead to the following health issues:
- Coronary heart disease (heart attack, cardiovascular diseases)
- Diabetic Retinopathy (Eye damage)
- Diabetic Nephropathy (Kidney damage)
- Diabetic Neuropathy (Nerve damage)
- Digestive disorders
- Diabetic foot problems
Importance of A healthy Eating Meal Plan for Diabetes Management
Some of the most important aspects of diabetes management are healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight management. A diet plan for diabetes should include nutritious foods like vegetables, legumes, some high-fiber carbohydrates, fruits, unsaturated fats, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. The Glycemic Index (GI) of foods plays an important role in blood sugar management. A healthy diabetes diet helps in maintaining general good health, aids in better management of blood glucose levels, helps in achieving target blood lipids levels, controlling blood pressure, preventing other complications related to diabetes and maintaining healthy body weight.
- It is important to eat frequent small meals throughout the day.
- Vegetables should be the main part of all meals.
- It is best to reduce the serving size of meals and snacks in order to prevent weight gain.
- Small servings of high-fiber carbs should be included at each meal.
- Substitute normal dairy products with low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
- Choose lean protein options. Some natural sources of protein are skinless chicken or turkey, fish, tofu nuts, and legumes.
- Limit the intake of unhealthy saturated fats and include limited amounts unsaturated fats in the diet.
- Avoid sweets, candies and soda as much as you can.
- Limit the intake of sodium in your foods and avoid high-salt foods.
Diabetic Diet According to Calories
Counting the calories you eat in a day thourgh a diet plan like the simple 1200 calorie diet plan is extremely important if you want to keep your blood sugar level under control. But following a healthy meal plan doesn’t mean depriving yourself of all your favorite foods; it just means having them with limitations. In this section, we present two sample diet plans for diabetes depending on the calories – a 1200 calorie diabetic diet and a 1500 calorie diabetic diet.
1200 Calorie Indian Diet for Diabetes
Early Morning – Tea without sugar, 2 Marie Biscuits (Total Calories=90)
Breakfast – 2 small methi, palak or lauki parathas, 1 cup curd (Total Calories=230)
2 small rotis, egg white bhurji 1 medium bowl (Total Calories=280)
1 bowl Poha/oats (Total Calories=230)
Mid-Morning – 1 Apple/Orange/Guava (Total Calories=40)
Lunch – 2 plain rotis, 1 bowl vegetable curry, 1 bowl salad, 1 bowl dal (Total Calories=420)
Evening – Green Tea/Herbal Tea, 1 bowl roasted channa with murmura (Total Calories=120)
Dinner – 2 Rotis, 1 bowl Lauki curry, 1 bowl salad, 1 cup curd (Total Calories=265)
Before Bed – 1 Glass Skim milk (Total Calories=120)
1500 Calorie Indian Diet for Diabetes
Early Morning – Tea without sugar, 2 Marie biscuits (Total Calories=90)
Breakfast – 2 small methi or lauki parathas, 1 cup curd (Total Calories=300)
2 Egg White Omelets, 2 slices Brown Bread (Total Calories=250)
Mid-Morning – 1 Apple/ Guava (Total Calories=40)
Lunch – 1 bowl vegetable brown rice pulav, 1 bowl salad, 1 small bowl of cucumber raita (Total Calories=355)
3 small rotis, 1 medium bowl of mixed vegetables curry, 1 medium bowl dal, 1 bowl salad (Total Calories=485)
Evening – Green Tea/Coffee without sugar, 1 bowl puffed rice (135)
Dinner – 3 small rotis, 1 medium bowl mixed vegetable curry, 1 small bowl curd/dal (Total Calories=435)
Bed Time – 1 Cup milk, 4 soaked almonds (Total Calories=95)
Diabetic Diet According to Region
The diet we follow also depends on the region we live in. While people living in North India eat more of lentil and grain products and non-vegetarian foods, people living in South India usually have vegetarian foods. Here, we have presented two separate sample healthy diet meal plans for Diabetes depending on the region.
North Indian Meal Plan for Diabetes
Early Morning – Tea without sugar, 2 Marie Biscuits
Breakfast – 1 Baked whole wheat stuffed paratha with chutney, 1/2 cup ripe papaya
Mid-Morning – 2 tablespoons of hummus on 1 roti, 1/2 cup berries
Lunch – 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup chickpeas curry, 1/2 cup cauliflower curry, 1 orange
Evening – 1 cup mango lassi
Dinner – 250 gms Tandoori Chicken, 1 small whole wheat naan, 1 cup spinach curry, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 bowl salad
South Indian Meal Plan for Diabetes
Early Morning – 1 cup tea/coffee without sugar, 2 Marie Biscuits
Breakfast – 1 whole wheat dosa, 1 cup sambar, 1/4th cup chutney, 1/2 cup ripe papaya
Mid-Morning – 3/4th cup buttermilk, 1 orange
Lunch – 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup moong dal, 1/2 cup rasam, 1 cup vegetable curry, 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 apple
Evening – 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup berries
Dinner – 1 cup vegetable and brown rice pulav, 1/2 cup masoor dal, 1 cup poriyal.
Healthy Foods To Include in a Diet Plan for Diabetes
A well-planned and healthy eating meal plan for diabetes will include all the essential nutrients from important foods groups that are required for the healthy functioning of the body.
Not all carbohydrates are harmful to diabetes; so it is important to choose the right ones. During digestion, the simple carbohydrates such as white rice and white flour products breakdown too quickly and release a large amount of glucose into the blood stream, leading to a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains (oats, brown rice, beans, lentils), vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products take a lot of time to breakdown in the intestine, leading to a slow and consistent release of glucose into the blood stream. But the good news is that healthy oatmeal recipes for weight loss and diabetes management can be prepared in a jiffy.
Fiber Rich Foods
Eating fiber-rich foods is one of the best ways to control blood glucose levels naturally. Fibers do not raise your blood glucose levels because they is not digested by the body, but soluble fibers help lower the cholesterol level in blood and improve blood sugar control. It keeps you satiated for a longer period of time and prevents unhealthy sugar cravings. Some of the best sources of fibers are oatmeal, various types of beans, legumes, apples, vegetables, etc. We are well aware of the amazing beans and bean sprout health benefits.
Fishes are an amazing alternative to high-fat meats and are rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids that not only improve cardiovascular health by lowering the level of triglycerides in the blood, but also reduce inches from the waistline, improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation caused by high blood glucose levels. You must try to include two servings of fishes like salmon, tuna, mackerel, bluefish and sardines per week in a diet plan for diabetic patients.
Diabetes increases the chances of heart disease and stroke, therefore, it is important to consume fats sparingly and choose healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from natural food sources like olive oil, canola oil, nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, avocados, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, etc. The benefits of olive oil for body and overall health are well known.
Foods to Avoid in Diabetes
It is also important to be aware of unhealthy foods that should be avoided in diabetes meal planning in order to manage diabetes effectively and avoid the complications related to high blood sugar.
Saturated Fats – Saturated fats raise the level of LDL “Bad” Cholesterol in blood and leads to various heart diseases, therefore, it is best to limit the intake of daily intake of saturated fats to 7% of the daily calories. Saturated fats are found primarily in dairy and animal products like cheese, cream, butter, hard margarine, beef, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc.
Trans Fats – Trans fats are mostly found in processed foods, readymade snacks and baked goods like pastries, pies, cakes, puddings, biscuits, cookies, savory packet snacks, frozen meals, deli meats. It is best to consume home baked cakes, pies, and pastries.
Cholesterol – High-fat animal and dairy products are loaded with cholesterol. Therefore, it is best to limit the daily intake of cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day. Some cholesterol-rich foods are egg yolk, organ meats like liver, shellfish, etc.
Role of Exercise in Diabetes Management
A healthy eating diet plan for diabetes should always be combined with daily physical activity in order to increase its effectiveness. When the body is in an active state, the cells of the body become increasingly sensitive to the insulin produced by the pancreas, and it works more efficiently in lowering the blood glucose levels. The cells also remove excess glucose from the blood during exercise. Regular physical activity is also essential for improving your overall well-being and alleviating other health conditions. You can do medium intensity workouts to lose fat or opt for dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, etc.
Benefits of Regular Physical Activity:
- Increases insulin sensitivity of the cells
- Lowers the level of cholesterol and blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke
- Burns calories and helps in maintaining healthy weight
- Increases energy level
- Aids in better restful sleep
- Relieves stress and depression
- Strengthens the bones and muscles
We hope this article was able to provide a clearer picture of the different types of diabetes, and the role of a balanced diet and exercise in diabetes management. So, plan out your diabetic diet accordingly and do share your experiences with us.