By Dr. Pradeep V. Gadge
Diabetes is a common problem that most people today are fighting. One of my patients, like many others, had trouble controlling her blood sugar levels. Thirty four year old Rekha Nayadu, an IT professional, has been diabetic for the past three years. Her fasting blood sugar is 90 mg/dl and post-meal sugar is 132 mg/dl. Going by this, Rekha's diabetes is well controlled. However, when I asked her to do a HbA1c test, it was 8.1%. HbA1c is a test which gives us an average of the last three months blood sugar. This gives us a better idea of the patients status.
Rekha was extremely happy that her sugar level had come under control and that she won't have any complications. This is what most diabetics feel. They are all in a false sense of illusion that they are safe. And they intermittently snack on fast food, drink colas and do all sort of dietary mistakes. When the day to do the blood sugar approaches, they diet strictly and come to the doctor with good reports. This is the usual scenario and Rekha was just another case. But she had put on 6 kgs in the last 6 months...all thanks her bad eating habits.
Food is basically made up of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Foods with carbohydrates, or carbs have maximum effect on the blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates are starchy foods and so, foods like bread, potatoes, corn and rice will hike up your suagr levels along with some fruits and sweets.
Protein has negligible effect on blood sugar level and is found mostly in animal products or vegeterian sources like nuts and dairy products. So eating protein is a good thing but in moderate levels.
Fat slows down the process of gastric emptying. This makes blood sugar a little lower soon after meals and a little higher a few hours after meals.
For their diabetes levels to stay in control, patients must follow a healthy diet routine and take care of what they consume.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Diabetics should learn carb (carbohydrates) count and understand portion sizes of different food items. They can use measuring cups or vatis to ensure proper portion sizes.
2. Meals should be well-balanced. Include a mix of carbs, proteins and fats. Complex carbohydrates, eg: vegetables and whole grains are better than simple carbohydrates.
3. Consult an expert and talk to your diabetologist or dietician about everything you eat. Do not take this lightly.
4. Avoid mismatch between activity, meals and medications.
5. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
Following these simple tips can help you live a better and healthier life even with diabetes.
Dr. Pradeep V. Gadge, MD (Medicine), DPH, D. Diabetology, FRSH is a Consultant Diabetologist, Shreya Diabetes Care Centre, Mumbai and visiting diabetologist, Sevens Hills Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital.