Whole wheat a good choice for Diabetics

My father-in – law is a diabetic with bad teeth and difficulty in chewing chapatti. What alternative food can be given? Is it safe to give him idly?

The basic principle to follow while planning a diabetic patient’s meal is to try and give whole cereals as far as possible. Whole cereal means cereals like wheat, ragi, oats, corn, jowar, bajra, etc., where the outer covering has not been removed and the grain not polished too much e.g. atta is from unpolished wheat. Maida is thoroughly polished wheat grain powdered. Whole wheat bread or brown bread is made from atta and white bread from maida. Similarly we have polished white rice and unpolished brown rice. When we consume the unpolished cereal, we are consuming more fibre, which is an advantage for diabetic patients as it delays the rising of blood sugar levels. It prolongs the digestive process and raises the metabolism.

For your father-in- law, I would recommend oats or ragi porridge or broken wheat porridge for breakfast. Whole wheat bread too is soft and chewable. Idly for breakfast may be eaten twice a week as it is made of polished rice. Try not to eat rice items in the breakfast on two consecutive days. Avoid idly for 6 pm snack or dinner. Rava or sooji too is a polished item so is best avoided by diabetic patients. Ragi ball for lunch is a good idea. Broken wheat cooked like rice may replace rice for lunch but once or twice a week he may take a little rice along with a small ragi ball at lunch time. At night whole wheat bread or broken wheat or even phulka dipped in dhal or curd to soften it may be eaten.

In the human body insulin is produced by the pancreas and it is this insulin that helps to regulate the sugar levels in our bodies. The body produces lower levels of insulin in the morning and evenings. Insulin levels are best around lunch time. Therefore it is safest for a diabetic patient to eat rice or rice items during the lunch meal and best for them to avoid rice and rice items in the morning, evenings and night.

Rice as a cereal grain is also seen to have the highest glycemic index. The glycemic index of rice is 88 while that of suji (rava) is 78, ragi 68, maida 70 and whole wheat atta or broken wheat is only 60. Here we see that whole wheat is definitely the best choice of cereal for a diabetic patient.

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