Diet is the most mis-quoted and mis-understood word, according to me. Most people think that diet means starving oneself, curtailing intake of favourite food, more so for people who are living with diabetes. My mother is someone living with diabetes, also my other maternal family members have diabetes, which makes me vulnerable and apprehensive if I am at risk. Thus, I like to keep myself updated with information on managing diabetes. I read a lot of health blogs shared by experts, consult doctors, nutritionists, attend health-related webinars and thus have understood the crucial role of maintaining the right dietary balance as the key to managing diabetes.
So, how to find out that you are eating right to manage diabetes?
I recently attended an online event wherein the speakers, a doctor and a nutritionist provided important insights on an ideal way to manage diabetes.
Planning meals in advance
Most of the times we resort to a quick-fix meal when pressed for time which is mostly not the ideal meal. The best way to tackle this issue is to plan meals in advance. I generally plan the entire menu for the week, in consultation with all my family members so I have all the ingredients required and keeping their choices in consideration before preparing the meal.
Making healthy food choices
To prevent blood glucose to spike, one should make healthy food choices. But how to manage sugar cravings? The best way is to try alternatives. Speak to your doctor and ask if you can include natural sugar food in the daily meals. For example, sweets can be replaced by dates or roasted nuts. Instead of adding sugar one can use options such as honey. Honey is high in calories but has a lower glycemic index value than sugar. It does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. However, it is important to note here that just because you replaced sugar it doesn’t mean you will not keep a watch on the portion size.
Some time back I had tried dark chocolates which had date sugar and coconut sugar. Date sugar and coconut sugar are good replacement for sugar for people with diabetes. My mother is fond of having something sweet after dinner and so I suggested her these chocolates. Now, this helps her manage her sweet cravings. Again, a person managing diabetes can have a dark chocolate but only in moderation else blood sugar levels could fluctuate in case you eat too much of it.
While it is relatively easier to plan healthier main meals, snacks are where most falter. People with Type 2 Diabetes can choose snacks such as handful of nuts, veggie sticks, hummus, low fat yogurt with berries as these options are high in protein and fibre. These food options also keep one fuller for a longer duration of time and restricts craving for sweets.
Use of Technology to keep track of your food intake
I read many blogs which have diabetes friendly recipes and also use a food tracking app that help in managing intake of carbohydrates. Many of them have easy barcode reading systems that give a quick view of the carbohydrate content of many popular foods. There are wearable devices, such as Continuous Glucose Monitoring device, that help with real time glucose monitoring to help people with diabetes make adjustments in the meal plan.
During the Facebook Live, it was mentioned that in most families if a member has diabetes separate food is prepared for them, which is actually not the right thing to do, rather all family members should be eating the same meal. Foods which are not healthy should not be consumed by others irrespective of whether they have diabetes or not. The nutritionist also mentioned that there is nothing like a special diet for people with diabetes. Ultimately, it is all about making the right diet choices for living a healthy life.
An important aspect which was highlighted by the experts was the importance of continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels. Continuous Glucose Monitoring gives the person an idea of the impact of the food that they eat and thereby make the right food choices. Knowing the range of glucose levels can be a great tool to manage diabetes better. With prick-free, painless Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices like FreeStyle Libre presenting real time information on glucose trends, visualising the 24 – hour roadmap of the individual’s glycemic variations is easy.
In conclusion, my take-away was that making the ideal dietary choices based on the range of glucose levels measured on a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) device, coupled with regular exercise is the best way to manage diabetes and living a healthy life.
To know more about Continuous Glucose Monitoring, read more here.
You can buy FreeStyle Libre here.
The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive/for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information
Any photos displayed are for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in such photos is a model.