Approximately 77 million Indians suffer from Diabetes – an astounding and staggering number. Diabetes continues the entire life, needing constant management so that it does nor cause more health issues in the person like heart disease, neuropathy, and renal diseases. Diabetes is a killer on the prowl, attacking our productive population – both young and old and causing degeneration and multiple complications.
This needs to be controlled. The good news is that we can turn the statistics around slowly, we can prevent its early occurrence, we can manage the disease and give its sufferers a better quality of life.
Are you or your family member or loved one or anyone you know affected by this disease? Well, it can be managed. Read on for five easy to do but consistent strategies that can beat Diabetes and keep it under our control.
Be Vigilant about Your Health:
India has a large percentage of our population living with type 2 diabetes or on the route to developing it. Indians have a genetic predisposition to diabetes and we see the disease affecting younger and younger people with each new generation.
Diabetes needs to be identified early and treated early.
Three things to prioritise:
Identifying and evaluating the risk for the disease
A family history of diabetes – Parents, siblings or grandparents
Age above 45 years
Overweight or obese or a lean person with weight around the waist
Sitting for more than 8 hours and no exercise
Smoker or who frequently consumes alcohol
Stressful busy lifestyle and less sleep
All those at risk need to check their blood sugars and those who are living with diabetes need to periodically test themselves to understand the pattern of the disease.
Get Professional Help:
Go for a physician /Diabetologist consult to evaluate other medical conditions if any as well as to evaluate the need for medication.
Definitely take a Dietetic Consult from a qualified Dietitian to tailor make your Diet Plan.
It is to be noted that unless there is highly uncontrolled blood sugars, it is always better to get on to a diet and lifestyle programme first, check the blood sugars and then be prescribed medications. (The lesser the load of medications on metabolism, the easier it is for the body to detoxify it and the lesser will be the long-term side effects experienced)
Follow a Good Nourishing Diet:
The diet for both preventing and managing diabetes has the goal to both keep the blood sugars controlled as well as to be a nourishing plan. Some of the points to be looked at are:
Eat a healthy Breakfast consistently:
This will help kickstart your metabolism in the day. Eat it within an hour and a half of your waking.
Plan all main meals well:
Let your breakfast, lunch and dinner tray/thali contain
A good quality cereal: A traditional breakfast dish which is low in oil and without sugars like a paratha or poha or upma or thalipeeth or idli or dosa or just a simple convenient Chapati or a preparation with Oats (Porridges are another great way to start the day). As you can see, they all can be prepared by using low fat. Use millets like Jowar, Bajra, Rajkeera and Ragi too. Let Whole wheat bread grace your tray not more than twice a week on the schedule. Lunch and dinner can contain Chapati or bhakri or paratha (all made from whole wheat flour or whole millet flour) or Rice (Red, brown or parboiled rice preferred)
A protein source: A protein source added will help in slower absorption of sugar from the intestine and thus lowered amounts of blood sugar. Any of the following choices can be used:
For breakfast – Dals added to the recipe, a bowl of steamed sprouts with a tadka (tempering), dals added generously to the idli batter or a simple sprout vegetable with chapati can be used
Lunch and dinner- should have a bowl of dal or whole pulses or sprouts, especially for a vegetarian.
Non veg sources can be used – eggs, a portion of chicken. Think a nice egg paratha or just a boiled egg sandwich or a chicken roll for breakfast and a curry or a grilled or marinated and steamed portion of chicken or egg or fish. Avoid the high in salt processed meats though – they must visit your tray only occasionally.
Milk and milk products- are a good source of protein too and it also gives a generous amount of calcium. Use low fat or skimmed varieties. Use it as curds or milk or a low fat paneer dish. You can get more innovative with milk by making a nut or a fruit milkshake for breakfast and curd gravies or raitas for the main meals.
Some fibre source: When there is enough fibre in every meal it helps to control the blood sugars and helps to keep diabetes under control. The best fibre source for main meals are inclusion of vegetables and nuts (keep the nut portion to not more than a handful). Lunch and Dinner can contain salads or vegetable non cream soups in addition to the vegetable dish.
Snacks are an important source of nutrients. Sugar control cannot be achieved with the Khari toast or the chai biscuit or the 2 minute noodles or some fried items.
For the very important teatime snack look at a portion of whole cereals like a simple roti or some roasted poha chivda (flakes) or low fat khakhras. It can even be combined with some nuts (peanuts) or some pulse (eg roasted chana).
For the mid-morning and late evening snacks a portion of fruits is what is apt. That brings us to the all-important question – which fruits should I eat? Any fruit is fine and nourishing in a small portion if eaten as a mid-morning or late evening snack. Keep the portion of banana and mango as half a fruit so that blood sugars don’t rise.
The question about sugars:
Avoid sugars and sweets as far as possible. Ensure you are taking sugar (if at all) in very small portions and in divided doses. A large sugary drink or a large portion of a sweet or sugar laden packaged cookies and such which is offered to you or chosen by you at random points in the day or night wreak havoc with blood sugars. It can easily derail the sugar control suddenly and send the metabolism into a downward spiral.
The question about fats:
Fats are not to be avoided, just moderated. Choose healthful cooking oils. Avoid fried items and avoid products with the disease causing trans fats – like biscuits, sweets, processed foods and food from restaurants or food ordered in.
Be physically active:
When the body moves, it utilises blood sugar for fuel and thus we can achieve an easy blood sugar control. The trick is to use up the glucose by movement. Now, isn’t that a common sense and a really easy approach to manage diabetes.
Some thought processes:
Create movement after every 30 minutes of sitting:
It can be moving about in the house or in the workplace, it can be a shoulder or arm rotation or flexing the feet to exercise the calf muscles
Sit Smart: Keep the spine straight and don’t slouch. The body uses glucose as energy to keep the spine erect, thus even while you are sitting, you are working towards maintaining blood sugars
Don’t shy away from household chores:
Cleaning, dusting, cooking and running errands are wonderful ways to spend the energy (Both men and women can be involved).
Start exercising for at least 30 minutes in the day:
Schedule it well ahead of time and let it be a priority of the day. Walking, yoga, callisthenics, dancing or swimming are wonderful ways to put the body in motion and control sugars. Remember to wear good footwear and protect your feet. Some amount of yoga, push ups, leg raises and squats (as much as you can) are good to improve the muscle in the body (And a wonderful secret – the more muscle we have, the better controlled will be our blood sugars)
Straighten the Lifestyle and the Mind:
A good balanced lifestyle and a great positive attitude are great pillars for good health and to manage diseases.
Lower the stress:
Work enough and play enough too. Address and manage stress, with help if required. Become more socially active, cultivate family relationships and friendships. Indulge in self-care and recreation. High stress is enough to raise blood sugar levels.
Plan the day well and get 8 hours of a good restful sleep. Lowered sleep quality and quantity can increase stress and make the metabolism keep blood sugars high.
Avoid preferably or at least moderate consumption of substances
like alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco as they are toxic to the body and the mind.
Mindfulness and Mind Positivity:
Live in awareness of health. Keep affirming for good health. Let us remember that Diabetes can be beaten. We can take control of our health. We are here to stay, not diabetes. Let the mind always remain positive, ready to accept all challenges and overcome them. The mind is infinitely powerful, we just need to train it to support our quest for health.
Some affirmations we can use:
I am living with myself, not Diabetes. I am greater than Diabetes and I can control and manage it.
I own my Body Temple and I will honour and cherish it by keeping my blood sugars under control.
I know I can manage my diabetes with professional help and a good nutrition and lifestyle plan.
I will empower myself and I will beat Diabetes!
Get Educated and Empowered:
Once Diabetes arrives into the metabolism, it is here to stay. Yes, it can be managed, but not reversed. Thus, it is crucial to combat it forcefully on an everyday basis.
To do so, as discussed earlier, professional help must be sought- both from the doctor and the dietitian. Unfortunately, they will not be available to you 24/7. Only You will be available for you 24/7 consistently; the family too will be there for large chunks of time.
Thus, it is imperative that one gets educated about the disease and how to manage it. Being educated, being aware of how to combat this disease, how to use the tools, how to design your diet and lifestyle programme on a daily basis is a crucial piece in the jigsaw of managing the disease.
Look out for relevant and authentic resources that will teach and train you for it. We at Nutrition with Vibha plan to curate educational and empowerment courses and materials to make you fully equipped to manage diabetes on a day-to-day basis. You must use professional guidance, yes, but you can continue to learn measures to keep this disease and its complications at bay, day after day, every day. This is our contribution to rid the nation of this disease.
Come, join your drive with our quest for Diabetes control! Drop a mail to us at [email protected] if you want to know more.