Diet Principles for Diabetes  


Recently an elderly couple from Kerala consulted me for diabetes - Mrs. Thomas said, "Lisa please explain to Mr. Thomas that diabetes is not just about avoiding sugar and sweets. He avoids these but eats very rich food other wise".

Mr. Thomas says he feels very hungry at about 11 am so he walks out of his office and eats hot vada or bonda with coconut chutney and sugarless coffee. Please note diabetes is not only a matter of avoiding sugar. Oil, ghee, butter, cream in milk, coconut, other nuts and starch from rice, potato, tapioca, etc. are all very dangerous for your sugar levels. Mutton, beef and pork which are also high in their fat content are best avoided. 1 gram sugar or starch gives us 4 calories, while 1 gm fat or oil gives us 9 calories and they are all converted to glucose in the blood.

Bananas of all varieties and mangoes are very high in their sugar content and of all the other fruits have a very high glycemic index which means that when eaten they shoot the blood sugar up very rapidly. Therefore though they are natural sugar, these 2 fruits are best avoided. The best fruits for a diabetic to eat is apple with the skin, orange, musambhi and pomegranate and any 1-2 of these may be eaten daily.

Some important tips

  1. Milk must be boiled and cooled in the refrigerator and as much cream as possible must be removed. Using milk directly from the milk packet for coffee and tea etc. is very harmful. If available use skimmed milk of 0.5% fat. (packet milk is3% fat).

  2. Avoid coconut chutney, avial, theal and other ground coconut and coconut milk dishes.

  3. Use a minimum amount of groundnut or sunflower oil to season your vegetables, sambar, dhal etc. A little coconut may be used in vegetable (pallya/sabji) preparation. Besides this, fried snacks, vada, bondas, mixture, numkeen and fried papads, pickles must be avoided.

  4. Rice or rice items must not be eaten at all 3 meals. If you are very keen to eat rice for lunch then you must avoid rice items at breakfast. Try to eat wheat or ragi, puttu with channa, broken wheat porridge, or chapatti at breakfast instead of idli, dosa, appam, rice puttu etc. At lunch you may eat rice with sambar and vegetables and then dinner must very, very strictly be only dry chapattis or wheat kanji along with moong or moong dhal.

  5. We have seen miraculous changes in sugar levels and weight loss if non-veg food is avoided in the night. You may eat chicken or fish without skin and minimum gravy daily for lunch but avoid it at dinner as far as possible.

  6. Alcohol has a disastrous effect on diabetes. 1 large whiskey, rum, brandy etc. is made up of 7 teaspoons sugar. It is best avoided or restrict to 2 small drinks or 330ml beer at one time once, a week.

  7. Lastly eating raw salad like tomato, cucumber, onion etc. daily with both lunch and dinner has almost a medicinal effect in lowering blood sugar.

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