The minute you are detected with diabetes, your doctor inevitably will chuck out all sugar and naturally-sweet foods especially, mangoes, banana and pineapple as well as high-carb foods such as rice, pasta from your diet. In short, he is prescribing you the “Dreaded Diabetic Diet” which is no less than a nightmare if you love eating fruits, potatoes and can’t do without rice, isn’t it?
What if, we told you that there is no such thing as a Diabetic diet or that even with diabetes, you can relish mangoes in the swelter summers, custard apple during monsoon and the juicy grapes during winters?
Too sweet to be true?
Well, the truth is you can enjoy the foods that you savour, like non-diabetics if you understand the nuances of balancing your sugar levels.
Before we go ahead, let’s get introduced to two important concepts of Glycaemic Index and Load, which are often labelled as the holy grail for diabetics.
Glycaemic Index – It refers to the blood glucose-raising potential of a food with reference to glucose. Carbohydrate-containing foods can be classified as high – (≥70), moderate – (56-69), or low-GI (≤55) relative to pure glucose which has a GI of 100.
Okay! We know you feel kind of lost. Let’s break it down. In more simpler terms, GI is the speed at which a carb releases its sugar in your blood stream. High GI carbs release the sugar faster, than low GI carbs. Now since your body can utilize the sugar at its own constant speed the excess sugar from high GI carbs gets stored as fat. Yes, it’s that simple!
Now, don’t just jump to the hasty conclusion of ditching all high GI carbs, balance your high GI foods with foods that have low Glycaemic index. This will balance the glycaemic load (GL) of the meal.
Eating foods that are low in GI and GL ensures a slow and steady release of glucose in the bloodstream. Low GI foods include beans, pulses, green leafy veggies, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicums, berries, apples, citrus fruits.
Now that we know this quick and easy hack, keep in mind how you can relish your favourite foods by finding its right pair.
Let’s take a few examples of your favourite foods and see how you can eat them with pleasure by using these 5 mantras
- Consume High GI foods in smaller portions
If you are craving for a mithai or dessert, savour it. A small bite is enough to satisfy those sugar cravings. Similarly, enjoy the potato chips or fries in small bowl rather than munching on the whole pack. By keeping the portion size in check, especially the intake of carbohydrates, you will master the art of managing your sugar levels.
Aim to choose more low GI food in each meal. Ideally, your plate should have 60% of food which are low GI such as, veggies (except tubers, potato, yam), dal, egg, beans, meat or cheese. In case you get hungrier, it is advised to have an extra serving of veggies and dal or meat instead of bread, roti or rice. However, be aware of the portions of non-carbohydrate foods which have a very low GI or negligible GI such as meat and nuts as they should be consumed in moderation else may increase your calorie intake.
3) Pair high GI foods with low GI foods to balance the GI
Now, let us look at rice, a big no-no when it comes to diabetics. But with a high GI in a typical serving, restricting the quantity of rice to half a cup along with dal, rajma or curd or meat is the best way to lower the GL and to savor it. Add to that a nice serving of veggies, and you have a tasty, nutrient- packed meal ?
Pairing foods with high GI and GL along with healthy fats helps in regulating the sugar levels.
Mangoes have high GI but you can lower its GL by simply decreasing the amount that you consume. You can also add in half a handful of your favourite nuts/eggs/curd and you have a power-packed and delicious mid-morning snack!
A peanut butter sandwich or a noodles with bean sprouts are good examples of how you can relish your favourite foods without fearing of the sugar spikes.
5) Occasionally consume High GI foods earlier in the day or after your workout
Craving potatoes aka the devil for diabetics? Well, grab the devil by the horns and eat those potatoes post workout!
Why it works – After engaging in physical activity, the body requires energy to replenish its glycogen stores. By eating a boiled potato post workout, you are not only giving your taste buds a treat but also giving your body the much-needed energy to bounce back and adequate nourishment for your body.
Thus, a simple process of pairing the right food and knowing when to eat what, ensures that you enjoy your favourite food without the highs and lows in sugar levels.
Now that we got you your favourite foods back, note that sugar-laden beverages such as fruit juices, sugar cane juice, milkshakes and aerated drinks are still to be avoided as much as possible.
Some smart swaps that you can try:
- Potato chips—-> Popcorn
- White bread sandwich——-> Whole wheat wrap
- Cola/ soda/ sports drink ———-> Fresh lemon water/ coconut water
- Honey coated cornflakes——–> whole grain muesli / granola
- Candies ——–> Mixed nuts
- Milk chocolate———-> dark chocolate
Clearly, it’s time for you to bring back all the sweetness on your plate without worrying about what your sugar levels!
It’s tough to keep track of all this information, we understand. That is why our app, bon happetee is designed to make such things easier for you. Our app provides you with the option to check the GI of foods and we also track and balance the GI of your meals to help you score better! Do we need say more? Resort to our app whenever in doubt and we look forward to guiding you in the right direction. Download the app from here and start eating what you love.
Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.