Diabetes And Diet Management

The silent killer, diabetes mellitus or diabetes, in which a person has elevated blood sugar levels, is one among the most prevalent chronic disorders since globally (as of 2012) nearly 346 million people are diabetic. The increase in blood sugar levels may be due to either the inadequacy of insulin production or non-response of body cells to the insulin produced. The classical symptoms of diabetes are polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).

Types of Diabetes Mellitus:

  1. Type 1 diabetes:

In this type of diabetes, the body fails to produce insulin and so the person would be in a position to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This type of diabetes was previously known as ‘Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus’ (IDDM) or ‘juvenile diabetes’.

  1. Type 2 diabetes:

This form of diabetes occurs as a result of, a condition in which the body cells fail to utilize insulin properly (insulin resistance) or there would be insulin deficiency. This type of diabetes was previously known as ‘Non-Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus’ (NIDDM) or ‘adult-onset diabetes’

  1. Gestational diabetes (GDM):

GDM occurs in pregnant women without previous occurrence of diabetes. This type of diabetes usually resolves after delivery.

Other types of diabetes mellitus include congenital diabetes (due genetic defects of insulin secretion), cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid induced diabetes (due to high doses of steroid induced) and several forms of monogenic diabetes.

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Management of diabetes mellitus:

Management of diabetes is focused mainly on keeping blood glucose levels under control or close to normal range without causing either hypo or hyperglycemia. This can be achieved by a combination of appropriate medications, diet and certain lifestyle modifications.

Nutritional management:

Nutritional care and proper dietary practices are often said to be the foundation of diabetes care. According to American Diabetic Association,(ADA, 2012), the following are the recommendations for nutritional management of diabetes.


  • Carbohydrate content of the diet for diabetic people should provide less than 60–70% of energy intake. However, the metabolic profile and need for weight loss also should be considered when determining allowances.

  • Foods containing complex carbohydrate (coarse cereals, millets and whole grains) should be included in a diabetic diet. People with diabetes should be encouraged to choose a variety of fiber-containing foods such as legumes, fiber-rich cereals (>5 g fiber/serving), fruits (like guava, apple etc) and vegetables (like green leafy vegetables, ladies finger etc).

  • Since the glycemic effects of carbohydrates must be taken care of, the total amount of carbohydrate in meals or snacks is more important than the source or type of carbohydrates.

  • Non-nutritive sweeteners can be used within limits as suggested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Individuals who are on intensive insulin therapy should adjust their pre-meal insulin doses based on the carbohydrate content of meals as per the practitioner’s suggestion.


  • Protein should constitute around 15-20% of total energy intake of diabetic persons. This can vary depending upon the renal function of the person.

  • High protein foods like legumes, pulses etc should be included in the diet.

Dietary Fat:

  • Less than 10% of energy intake of diabetic person should be derived from saturated fats. For individuals (i.e., persons with LDL cholesterol ≥100 mg/dl) saturated fat intake must be even more lowered to <7% of energy intake.

  • Dietary cholesterol (foods like red meat) intake should be <300 mg/day. For individuals (i.e., persons with LDL cholesterol ≥100 mg/dl) it should be <200 mg/ day.

  • Intake of trans- unsaturated fatty acids (deep-fried foods) should be minimized.

  • Two to three servings of fish (per week) should be recommended for dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fat.

  • Polyunsaturated fat rich foods (like flax seed, walnut etc) intake should be ∼10% of energy intake.

Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals):

  • Routine intake of vitamin or mineral supplements is generally not recommended for people with diabetes except in cases of people with inadequate food consumption or other special needs.

  • Daily vitamin and mineral requirements should be obtained from a nutritionally-balanced diet.

Dietary and life-style modification tips for diabetes management:

  • Small frequent meals must be taken in order to maintain the proper blood glucose levels.

  • Adequate fluid intake is recommended (1.5-2 lit/day) in order to prevent dehydration.

  • Rice or starchy food intake must be restricted to once a day. High sugary foods must be avoided.

  • Whole fruits must be eaten instead of fruit juices.

  • Physical activity must be a part of daily routine and should remain as active as possible.

  • Alcohol intake and smoking must be limited. According to ADA (2012), if individuals choose to drink alcohol, daily intake should be limited to one drink for adult women and two drinks for adult men. One drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits.

Medical nutrition therapy for diabetic people should be individualized, with consideration and preferences given to the individual’s usual food and eating habits, metabolic profile, treatment goals, and desired outcomes. Dietary treatment or practices must be followed under the guidance of a registered dietician (RD). Medication, dietary restrictions and life-style modifications must be strictly followed in order to cope up with the effects of diabetes and to lead a disease-related stress free life.

Food should be fun explains a Dietician

Food is always expected to be healthy hence this topic may sound like an oxymoron. But, food that is capable of giving a feeling of enjoyment and happiness can make one psychologically satiated too.

Although eating healthy remains to be the priority for all of us, there is always a tendency to search for interesting and innovative factors associated with the meal. Preparing same type of food or recipes over and over again makes it monotonous and boring over a period of time. This is where we end up munching unhealthy snacks or tasty junk food items. This phenomenon happens irrespective of age, gender or health condition of the person.

In general, food that is considered to be fun is often associated to be unhealthy or low in nutrition. But there are ways in which recipes or tasty food can be made healthy too. Here are a few tips to fill your food with fun and make it interesting too.

  • Involve your family members in cooking, especially kids
  • Let each recipe of a meal be prepared with interesting new idea inputs from family members
  • Try preparing foods like pizzas, burgers, etc. at home with healthy ingredients.
  • Try healthy cooking methods (like pressure cooking) in order to minimize the nutrient loss from foods
  • Try methods like pan frying, baking, stir frying over deep frying
  • Incorporate cooking practices like placing fried foods on tissue paper (to absorb excess oils), sprouting pulses before cooking (in order to increase the protein content and digestibility of the pulses), cleaning vegetables before chopping (to reduce nutrient loss)
  • Try new nutrient specific recipes like antioxidant rich (spinach gravy, beet and onion salad), iron rich (green collard sandwich, rice flakes), high fiber (veggie salad, whole cereal porridge) and high protein (Sprouts salad, scrambled egg white).
  • Search for new interesting recipes online
  • Make healthy foods more interesting by adding new tasty ingredients like tangy dressing on salads and dry nuts and fruits in porridges
  • Try out new ideas for presentation and serving

Innovativeness is the key to make food interesting and make eating a fun-filled task. A few modifications to regular food can make it healthy and fun-filled. Remember health and nutrition factor shouldn’t be compromised at any cost.


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Stop Dieting, Start Living – Tips from a Dietician

It is a common known fact that human body needs a balanced diet to maintain proper health. Diet should ensure that body gets the adequate dosage of micro / macro nutrients as per its requirements. Any imbalance in the same leads to nutritional deficiency and may cause various health related complications which could be as common as anemia caused by iron deficiency to as severe as night blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency.

Dieting is a practice of consuming proper balanced diet in a regulated fashion which should be done under the guidance of a nutrition professional or practicing dietician. But the term dieting has always been misconceived as ‘a set of restrictions for quick weight loss’

There are various styles of diets that can be followed  to achieve ones goals. Some of the famous types of diet are as follows:

  • Belief-based diets-e.g.: Buddhist diet, Kosher diet
  • Preference based diets-e.g.: Vegetarian diet, Vegan diet
  • Weight gain/loss diets-e.g.: Low calorie diet, Low fat diet
  • Crash diets/ Fad diets-e.g.: Cabbage soup diet, Blood type diet
  • Detox diets-e.g: Juice fasting diet, Salad diet
  • Therapeutic diets-e.g.: DASH diet, Diabetic diet

Above mentioned diets are to be followed under proper guidance and supervision of a dietician.  Careful planning is a must as these diets have different purposes and continuing on one type of diet for a long duration might lead to nutrient deficiency in the body. But there are certain blunders which are being made under the name of dieting  that lead to many detrimental effects.

Along with the issues associated with Dieting one must also remember that is the individual who has to ensure that he follows what has been prescribed to him / her by the dietician. A dietician can only suggest.  Following are some of the known causes for failure of dieting.

  • Willpower – Failure to stick on to the restrictions required or too much of restrictions followed
  • Attitude – Dieting requires proper attitude, because improper adherence and deviation from a diet plan would turn it into a failure and also deter person to diet again in near future.
  • Variety in Food / Monotonous Food – Inability to get accustomed to the type of food which is to be consumed
  • Psychological stress – To cope up with the stress associated with weight loss and changes in the body requires continuous counseling from a dietician
  • Inability to schedule time for meal planning, shopping and preparation
  • Wrong attitude of the one who is dieting like ‘this to lose x number of Kilos’


To think well, love well, sleep well, one must Eat well

Food is the primary necessity in a person’s life and eating a nutritious food in proper limits and time is equally important. Adeline Virginia Woolf, a famous English writer, in her quote “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”, has cited the predominant importance of food, its ability to improve the efficiency of our thought process, to induce sound sleep and even to have a good love life.

Eating well doesn’t mean to eat non-nutritious food in more than required quantities. Adequate intake of healthy foods, in proper timings helps you to lead a hale and healthy life.

A good, nutritious food is capable of provoking positive thinking and thereby ensures psychological well-being. Such good eating practices help to get rid of the negative thoughts completely. Following are few foods which are capable of having a good impact on your brain health.

  • Foods rich in antioxidants (the free radical scavengers), like blueberries, strawberries, grapes, blackberries, walnuts, greens, green tea, spinach, tomato, carrot and spices like turmeric and saffron help in improving the memory, delaying aging and maintain brain health.
  • Essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) rich foods like leafy greens, walnuts, some seeds, sea vegetables, few fishes and some legumes which aid in proper cognitive functioning.

Proper brain health and psychological wellness guarantees sound sleep and joyous love life. Shallow and disturbed sleep makes the complete schedule of the day ruined since your brain would have not got proper rest. A person who starves is sure not to have a good sleep and thereby every single aspect related to his psychological wellness gets disturbed. Scroll down for few tips to alleviate sleep deprivation.

  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a well ventilated and dark room.
  • See a pleasure-giving/delightful thing before you sleep and when you wake up.
  • Refrain from exhaustive and severe stress involved work before going to bed.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol or caffeine.
  • Let the dinner be as light as possible and starch-based.
  • Finish your dinner at least one to two hours before going to bed.
  • Do not have beverages like tea, coffee etc after six in the evening.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but stop drinking one to two hours before bed.

Hence, it obviously means that eating well helps to think, love and sleep well and helps you to stay healthy throughout your life. EAT WELL, LIVE WELL!