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Beat Your Blood Sugar Blues

Beat Your Blood Sugar Blues

A diet to control your blood sugar levels need not be bland or boring. With some imagination and discipline, you can even surprise yourself!

Yashna Harjani

Managing diabetes necessitates a change in how you eat and how you live - changes that must last a lifetime. These don't have to be boring, your just have to retrain your tastebuds and discover new tastes, textures and possibilities in your food.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to abstain from sugar or give up rice. For good blood sugar control - you just need to carefully choose your ingredients, portion it and cook it up well. 20000517.gif (25247 bytes)

Don't get tripped by how difficult this may sound. Think of how effective diet management can get you further in your personal goals. A diabetic diet is just a healthy one that allows you to live and work better. Whether you are a busy housewife, a busy workaholic or a pregnant mum, you can get the right balance in the taste and attractiveness of your food. You will feel better each day knowing you've learned how to better manage your diabetes.

Marketing 101: What To Buy
Go easy on sugar and sweet foods

For years, "no sugar" was the rule. Today, researchers have realized that sugars and starches raise blood sugar in the same way. So the good news is, that you can indulge in small amounts of sugar provided it is within the carbohydrate allowance for the meal and your blood sugar level is in good control. You may also want to try fructose or fruit sugar, since it raises blood sugar levels at a slower rate than any other sugar.

If you are worried about your weight and are counting the calories you consume, it would be a good idea to keep sugars to the minimum. Use calorie free sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharine instead.

Just remember not to heat your food if you are using low-calorie sweet dishes because this results in the loss of sweetness.

Moderate the carbohydrates
Besides sugars, carbohydrates are found in rice, bread, noodles, cereals, flour, cornflour and grains; vegetables; fruits and fruit juice; beans, peas and lentils and milk and milk products. These foods finally break down to sugas before they are absorbed by your body. So, to prevent a big rise in blood sugar levels, eat moderate portions of these foods at each meal. Minimise the amount of flour you use as well. A personalized meal plan worked out with a dietitian will take the guessing out of your meal plan.

Check your portions.
Cook just the right amount of rice, noodles, vegetables or beans, peas and lentils. Cooking too much may tempt you to eat more of these foods. If you feel like nibbling, however, you can try vegetables like cabbage, celery, cucumber, onion, mushrooms or pepper, lettuce and spinach.

What to skip
Use less flour when cooking. Say no to intensely sweetened foods like sweet breads, cereals, fruits canned in syrup, fruit juice with added sugar or milk and milk products which will raise your blood sugar levels more than their unsweetened counterparts. Read labels and select foods that do not include sugars like cane sugar, honey, glucose, sucrose, for example.

Putting It All Together!
Now that you've shopped for the food you want within the parameters we've laid out above, the next step is to know some basic ideas on how to put it all together deliciously.

The first thing you need to know is that you have to combine your staple carbs with different sources of fat, protein and fiber to moderate blood sugar swings. Good sources of carbs that go a long way as fuel for your day include brown rice, wholemeal or high-fibre white bread and wholemeal pasta.

Stock up on these sources of protein to combine with your carbs. Always have some meat, fish, poultry; dried beans, peas or lentils; tofu, taukwa, tempeh or soymilk; milk or milk products at each meal. For fibre, make sure you have vegetables, beans or lentils in your meal. In addition to helping to regulate your bowels, these are low-calorie foods that help you to feel full and prevent over-eating.

Now for the fat. What you use in cooking is good enough and you shouldn't add on. The margarine you apply on bread, for instance, is enough to slow down the release of glucose.

As for dessert, go for a fruit. Think of all the anti-oxidants and phytochemicals you'll be soaking up for that vital glow!

Cook It Right
All these planning will get nowhere if you aren't prepared to cook in such a way that the nutrients are best kept without too much grease.

Grill, broil, bake, stew or steam your foods. If you enjoy stir-frying your foods, opt for less oil. Use cooking oils like soy, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, canola, olive or sesame or unsaturated margarine. Avoid palm oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, ghee, chicken fat, cream or hard margarine or shortenings. For your curries, cut down on the use of coconut milk. Opt for low-fat milk and milk products in your sauces. Coconut gratings on your pastries can be replaced with more fragrant alternatives like sesame seeds.

Don't forget the kinds of meat you use. Stick to lean cuts of meat, lean poultry without skin. Finally, when you prepare your appetizers, stay with low-fat sauces and dressings.

Watch The Cholesterol!
Uncontrolled diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand. So actively monitor what you eat. For instance, take organ meats like kidney, liver, intestine, stomach, trotters, brain in tiny portions.

Cook cuttlefish, squids, and shellfish like prawns and crabs no more than once a week. If you bake, use two egg whites in recipes requiring a whole egg.

How You Eat Matters
This is where it requires some discipline. Give yourself time to train yourself and then adjust to a new routine. Learn to take control your blood sugar levels through your eating programme before you reach a point where blood sugar swings dictate how you live your life.

  • Package Meals Small. Once your food allowance for the day has been determined, divide foods evenly through three meals and two or three snacks. Eating smaller meals and more meals makes foods easier to digest and assimilate than three large ones.
  • Watch the Clock. Meals should be planned at consistent times to improve blood sugar levels. An adequate time gap between meals and snacks must be maintained to allow the body to adequately digest food and return to the pre-meal range. Your dietitian will help you plan your meals and snacks to fit your lifestyle and medication, if any.
  • Don't Skip Meals. If you are a busy executive, avoid skipping meals. This is specially so if you are on diabetic medication, since it may lead to low blood glucose levels and associated complications. It doesn't work to lose weight this way, skipping breakfast will only induce you to eat more at lunch time.
  • Be Creative. A diabetic meal plan is really easy to prepare and simple to follow. All you need is a little perseverance to adhere to the dos and don'ts and lots of creativity to keep the fun and flavor in your food. You will soon find yourself not only on a road to better blood sugar control, but also to a trimmer and healthier you.
  • Act Now! Now you have the know-how, spring to action. For a quick rehearsal, try our healthy recipe. Stir-frying meat dishes with vegetables is an excellent way to get the protein, fiber and fat combination going. Just remember to keep the meat lean, limit the oil and include with the right quantity of rice or noodles and you will have no problem fighting the blood sugar blues.

Finally, here's a recipe for you to practise on:

Stir-fried Chicken with Spinach
(serves 1)

75g chicken cut into thin slices against the gain
(The change: Use skinless chicken)
200g spinach, cut into sections 1 1/2 inches long
6 sections green onion
1 Tbsp shredded gingerroot
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
(Use 2 tsps of an unsaturated oil such as olive oil)

Marinade - Mix Well
1 Tbsp Chinese barbecue sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic (minced)
1 tsp cornstarch

1.Mix chicken with marinade and marinate for ten minutes.
2.Heat oil in a non-stick wok.
3.Stir-fry chicken over medium heat until color changes.
4.Remove chicken, stir-fry ginger and green onion.
5.Add spinach and salt. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
6.Add chicken and quickly stir-fry until mixed well.

Dish out and serve. Enjoy!

Date reviewed: 17 May 2000

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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