Bodies of persons affected with diabetes cannot properly process glucose, the sugar used by the body for energy. This results in the glucose remaining in the blood stream thereby causing blood glucose levels to rise and thus simultaneously starving the body cells for glucose. Diabetes leads to poor and delayed healing of sores, higher risks of infections, and many other associated problems.
Since food intake affects the body’s need for insulin and its ability to lower blood sugar, diet is the mainstay for diabetic treatment. Small quantities of sugar can be eaten infrequently as part of a balanced, healthy diet without having a harmful effect on blood glucose. However, bringing down consumption of sugary foods and drinks in the diabetic diet is desirable. A restriction of certain foods is essential for weight control and overall health. A balanced diet means intake of appropriate varieties and adequate quantities of foods and drinks to supply nutrition and energy for the maintenance of body cells, tissues and organs and to support normal growth and development. Choosing a variety of foods across food groups is also important.
The human body needs nutrients for its varied functions which are provided by the food. Any deficiency of essential nutrients, over a time period, results in loss of activity or reduction in some function which can lead to deficiency diseases. In addition, chronic age related diseases, like diabetes, osteoporosis, heart problems and cancer could result due to lack of nutrients. A nutritious diet helps meet body’s nutrient and energy requirements and also helps in prevention of other diseases.
Thus, a healthy diet should comprise of a wide variety of foods eaten in moderation wherein fifty percent of the energy we need should come from the carbohydrates in the food whereas 30–35% should come from fats and 15–20% should be provided by proteins. A well-balanced diet consumed on a regular basis along with maintenance of ideal weight is critical factors in maintaining the emotional and physical well-being of the patient.
The diet for diabetes must be a balanced healthy diet, low in fat, sugar and salt, with plenty of fruit and vegetables and meals based on starchy foods, Starchy foods like potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta should be the basis of all meals. This is because these foods help to keep blood glucose levels steady.
The most important part of diet management is to avoid sugar or food with added sugar like cakes, candies, pastries, chocolates, jams and jellies. However, sugar can be consumed in very limited quantities say up to 10% of daily calorific intake and no more. Hence it is necessary to check the label for foods with added sugar. Items containing invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, icing sugar, jaggery, honey, fruit juice concentrate, molasses and white sugar too need to be considered as added sugar. Thus it essential to know that any added sugar in a food needs to be checked in case you are a diabetic.
Non caloric sweeteners are present that do not add calories and can provide the taste of sugar. Select sweeteners that are easily digestible and do not provide any after taste.