According to the latest Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) numbers released this year, estimated prevalence of diabetes in India is about 101 million, a massive spike from 70 million individuals in 2019. Additionally, 15.3% of the population that is nearly 136 million people, are estimated to have prediabetes[i]. The rise in diabetes can be largely attributed to a mix of demographics, socioeconomic, and dietary elements. Predominately sedentary lifestyle adds to the diabetes caseload burden while also propelling obesity and other noncommunicable diseases.
Maintaining optimal glucose levels is vital for managing type 2 diabetes supplemented by a healthy, effective, and consistent lifestyle. Having a well-structured lifestyle intervention can help individuals improve their eating habits, maintain healthy weight, and control blood sugar levels effectively. There could however be instances when one would need to adjust to their meal planning depending on situations that can arise either while dining out, dealing with illness, or during special occasions and holidays. Dr Irfan Shaikh, Head of Medical Affairs at Abbott’s Nutrition business shares insights to help craft implementable dietary plans and tactics to make it easier to manage diabetes and the challenges that come while living with it.
Think ahead before planning your meal
Meal preparation plays a crucial role in managing diabetes, it starts with developing a comprehensive diet plan for your everyday mealtime. It should revolve around making mindful choices and striking a balance between carbohydrates, protein, and fats, and selecting nutrition that aligns with your health and life objectives. Initially, it may feel overwhelming, but with practice, it becomes seamless and ultimately an ingrained part of your daily routine. Key would be consistency and does require a lot of self-motivation and support from care givers.
A balanced diabetes diet should include a mix of non-starchy vegetables, grains, and lean proteins. For examples eat more of whole wheat, unpolished rice, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, oats, millets like bajra, ragi, jowar, as a part of your daily diet. Have fruits like apple, guava, pear, orange, or berries than bananas, grapes, and mango. Eat whole fruits with skin, instead of fruit juices. Use animal foods in moderation and avoid red meat. Eat lean meat and poultry. By incorporating these food options, you can enjoy a satisfying and healthy eating experience while effectively managing your diabetes.
Exercise as a great way to manage diabetes
Exercise is as important as proper diabetes nutrition. In addition to eating right, staying fit through regular exercise is a great way to manage diabetes.[ii] Exercising regularly helps you tone your muscles, improve blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which in turn lowers your risk for heart diseases and benefits in maintaining healthy weight.
Try avoiding exercise when you're ill, as your blood glucose will rise to fight off infections. Also, it is advisable to not exercise in case your blood glucose levels are too high and if you don't have enough insulin as this may inflate your glucose levels further. Before incorporating any exercise to your daily routine, it is best to consult your treating physician to chalk out an individualize regimen suiting your lifestyle and clinical condition.
Use technology to your advantage
Technology can play a huge enabler and motivator in planning, monitoring, and following specialised dietary plans. Food-tracking applications can provide some assistance in managing your daily nutritional consumption These apps can help record your daily food intake and provide assistance in course corrections in diet to achieve intended goals.
In addition, recipe-sharing blogs and websites can be highly beneficial, especially when they provide detailed nutritional information alongside each recipe. This allows you to swiftly determine if a tempting recipe aligns with your diabetes meal plan.
Make conscious healthy snacking options and stay active
Individuals with diabetes need to be mindful of the snacking choices they make. Snacking has evolved into a fourth meal, often adding a significant number of calories and excessive sugar intake to our diets. When opting for snacks, prioritize nutritious choices such as fruits or vegetables. You can also look at incorporating a diabetes-specific nutritional supplement in your meal plans. For example, you can consume Ensure diabetes care as a snack option in evening or before bedtime or as a supplement with breakfast. One can also make a vanilla or chocolate-flavoured milkshake with Ensure Diabetes Care. It is a scientifically formulated nutritional supplement with slow-release energy system which helps manage blood glucose levels and weight. Consult your doctor for selecting the right supplements.
By integrating this nutrition shake into your daily routine as a component of a well-balanced eating plan, you can potentially support better blood sugar management. However, maintaining overall health and well-being also involves incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle. Developing an exercise routine doesn't need to be complex, you can start small with adjustments to your daily routine, for e.g. taking the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator or using part of your lunch break for a short walk.
Today, diabetes management requires a more focused, practical, and flexible approach depending on your geographical base, active routine, and dietary preferences. Hence, if you feel like you need more assistance managing your glucose, consider speaking to a registered dietitian to discuss how you can optimize your nutrition intake for better glucose management. With their guidance, you can establish a consistent routine that lays the foundation for long-term optimal health. This may involve making lifestyle adjustments, adopting dietary modifications, or implementing personalized strategies based on your individual health needs.