By Naini Setalvad
You can retard, reverse and prevent diabetes with the right diet, says Naini Setalvad
An increase in blood sugar levels is one of the easiest things to reverse with diet. Whether at home or outside, our presentday diet is extremely low on vegetables, and high on grains, proteins and bad quality fat. The diet lacks in essential nutrients, making us overeat and causing a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. Our unlimited access to sugar combined with our inherent desire for sweet foods makes us consume much more than we need of this dangerous substance. So learn to eat smart, move your body and keep your weight in check, in order to steer clear of diabetes. Oftentimes, you can be pre-diabetic and not know it. Here’s how to eat smart.
Eat more vegetables
Make vegetable dishes from vegetables, not from other substances. Today, we are besieged by paneer ki sabzi, gatte ki sabzi, mung ki sabzi, mangodi, matter ki sabzi, and alu ki sabzi. Ensure either half your plate or more than half your plate is filled with vegetables like French beans, ladies finger, brinjal, onion, tomato, cucumber, cabbage, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, the entire gourd family, or leafy greens like spinach and coriander. These vegetables are filling, low in calories and very low in carbohydrates, thereby preventing sugar from spiking up.
Sprinkle on nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats and protein, which aid in slowing digestion and better blood glucose control. Add a handful of nuts like pistachios,
Jav (barley) Roti
100 gm jav atta (barley)
100 ml water
1/2 chilli paste
1/2 cup chopped coriander
Salt to taste
o Take water in a vessel. Put it on a medium flame
o As it starts boiling add jav atta, chilli paste and coriander, and leave it for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not stir.
o Take it off the flame. Stir with a wooden spoon so that lumps are not formed.
o After it is mixed well, cool for five minutes and transfer it to a flat plate
o Knead well.
o Roll it into rotis just like thin wheat rotis.
o Apply 1/4 tsp ghee if desired.
walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds and two to three tbsps of seeds to your daily diet. They not only control sugar from going up but keep you full for a longer time and discourage you from reaching for high carbohydrate or calorofic snacks. A handful of nuts would weigh 30 gms and is 100 calories approximately, while a 30-gram packet of chips or bhujiya is nearly 500 calories.
Add good quality fat
Fear not healthy fat. The most important healthy fats are cow’s ghee, coconut, omega 3 from walnuts and flax seeds followed by cold pressed olive oil and mustard oil. Adding these to your daily diet is beneficial as it keeps a check on your blood glucose levels and satiates you, preventing you from binge-eating. These fats, especially coconut and ghee, normalise blood sugar levels, increase energy, and decrease the stress on the system through fluctuating hormones and sugar levels.
Increase plant proteins
Please add pulses, dals, sprouts and peas to your diet to help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly a quarter. Harvard researchers found that even a five per cent increase in plants-based proteins reduces the risk of diabetes. Avoid red meat, as it is known to clog your arteries, which can increase the chances of diabetes and risk of cancer.
Move to low GI grains
Consume grains like barley and basmati rice as they are low in glycemic index, and they keep you full for a long time. A smaller quantity goes a long way, automatically cutting down on sugar and calories. If you have been used to having three to four rotis in a short period, you will require half the quantity of barley or basmati rotis, yet stay full longer, reducing the possibility of snacking.
Spice up your life
Spices like cinnamon, turmeric and condiments like fenugreek seeds have a very positive effect on blood sugar levels; three grams of cinnamon powder cut blood sugar levels. Why have bland food when you can add spices to your food, especially your vegetables? You can entice your taste buds and reduce your risk of diabetes at one and the same time!
Water is the best choice to consume when you are thirsty. Other than water occasionally reach out to sparkling water, unsweetened lemon soda, tomato juice, jal jeera, buttermilk, unsweetened green teas and herbal infusions. Stay away from alcohol, aerated drinks, mocktails, cocktails, fruit smoothies and fruit juices as they instantly take up your sugar levels, while dropping it equally fast. Prevention is better than cure.
Eat smartly at regular intervals
Skipping meals or keeping long gaps between foods cause your blood sugar levels to skydive. A sugary snack at such a time will instantly raise sugar levels and energy followed by a quick crash in blood sugar. Eventually, the cells become resistant to insulin and the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to lower high blood sugar levels. Avoid foods with empty calories like refined carbohydrates, sugar, refined bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit juices, sweets, chocolate, aerated drinks, and alcohol. Choose smart, and your sugar levels will be constant preventing you from consuming foods that can harm you.
Keep body weight and body fat low
Obesity is the root cause of all diseases. A minimum increase in weight increases your risk of diabetes. Keep your weight and body fat at optimum levels
Optimise Vitamin D levels
Low Vitamin D levels cause our hormones to malfunction leading to the fluctuation of insulin levels and the onset of diabetes.
Move your body or lose your body. It is important to have some form of cardio exercise daily such as walk, swim, or cycle. Half an hour is all you need to do.
Calm your mind
A calm mind is the key to a successful life. You are what you eat. Food can stress you or calm you. Stress can increase your blood sugar levels and lead to diabetes. Fresh, local, seasonal, unprocessed foods, if organic, can combat stress. Tulsi, chamomile infusion, banana are foods that calm. Check your Vitamin B levels, especially B12, and keep them at optimum levels. Yoga, and deep breathing aid in keeping the mind calm and peaceful. Avoid artificial sweeteners; if you must have a sweetener, stick to stevia leaves. With these simple tips you may well be able to reverse, retard and prevent diabetes.
Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specialising in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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