Dietary aspects in the management of diabetes ~ Glycemic Index!

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Source: Written for Spice your Life, by Dr. Nagarathnam Jetti, MBBS, DPH, DIH, FIAOH.

In the previous article, we discussed a few myths and realities related to the diet a Diabetic should follow or not follow.

We also discussed how to calculate the calories required for daily consumption. This leads us to discuss the different proportions of Carbohydrates, Protein, and fats are required per day requirements.

When we discuss food requirements, we will have to base it on the Glycemic Index.

What is the Glycemic Index?

Glycemic Index lets you know how fast a particular food is likely to raise your blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels have gone down, you can get it to normal by eating those foods that tend to increase the blood sugar levels. Likewise when you know that during a particular period, there is not much physical activity scheduled, one can consume foods that have a lower glycemic index.

Low Glycemic Index:

Glycemic Index 50 and below, should be selected for meeting the daily requirement

Medium Glycemic Index

Foods with Glycemic Index between 50 and 70 may be taken in a restricted way but the quantity must be monitored. If a diabetic likes a particular food falling within this category he should practice caution in consuming it on small quantity. For example, if one is fond of sweets, there is no harm in tasting a small piece. Satisfying the tongue is more important than working up your cravings for it.

High Glycemic Index

Foods with a glycemic index between 70 and above are generally to be avoided because the blood glucose will rise very sharp and fast.

So once you know the Glycemic Index of each food that you consume on daily basis, you can plan and co-ordinate foods accordingly!

Tips regarding buying and consuming common food items:

While buying tinned and packed foods, one has to always see the date of packing and date of expiry.

Watch out for those bulged tins, which indicate spoiled food.

Looking at the label where it is mandatory to give the composition, total calories, and addition of colours, flavoring agents, addition of sugar, and an indication of vegetarian or Nonvegetarian.

It’s always better to avoid soft drinks as they contain unknown chemicals. In addition, they also contain colouring agents, flavoring agents, stabilizers, homogenizers and preservatives. Most of these chemicals are derived from dyes that have to pass through the kidneys and maybe harmful to the kidneys. Most of the soft drinks contain saccharin which is considered to carcinogenic.

Alcohol: It’s always better to avoid alcoholic drinks. But if one likes to have, it should be restricted to not more than 60 – 90 ml per day. Alcohol gives 4 kcals per gram and they are empty calories. And should always be consumed within the allowed calories.

All said and done, the diabetics should always remember that when a diet and drugs are prescribed, eating more food and taking extra oral dose or insulin does not work because at least in India we have too many festivals which varieties of food prepared.

So exercising caution and control on intake with enough physical exercise is the best way to lead a healthy diabetic way!

As the saying goes a diabetic may not follow the “Lankanam Praramoushadham” (Fasting is the best medicine) dictum but should definitely not over eat!

The next article will discuss the Glycemic Index of each food or ingredients.

Looking forward to know your feedback!


Earlier on Diabetes:

General Notes on Diabetes
Introduction to Diabetes ~ What Is Diabetes?
Why Early Diagnosis Is Important?
Diagnosing Diabetes ~ Different Types Of Diabetes

Dietary Aspects of the Management of Diabetes
Dietary Aspects of the Management of Diabetes ~ Part 2
Glycemic Index of Different Foods
Uncontrolled diabetes leading to Renal Failure
Diabetes and Eye disease

Diabetes Diet:

Appey or Paniyaram with Jowar Four
Healthy Snack with Chickpea Salad
Gooseberry Rice
Guava ~ the Wonder Fruit


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