Indian traditions are big on celebrating occasions or beginnings by starting things on a sweet note, as it is seen as a good omen. However, not all have the privilege of enjoying sweet goods, as more than 77 million people in India are affected by diabetes. A condition where the person is incapable of producing enough insulin, thereby leading to elevated blood glucose levels in the body, which branches out to many other health conditions such as heart problems, high cholesterol, obesity, etc. A crucial factor to keep in mind is portion control and the type of food one consumes.
Indian breakfast menu items like besan chilla are high in fiber and carbs and prevent post-meal sugar spikes. Multigrain idlis and dosas are another interesting way to decrease blood glucose levels. Millets in multigrain idlis and dosas make it an ideal breakfast for diabetic patients as it has a low glycemic index and is a highly soluble fiber, which makes digestion slower.
For munching snacks, one can opt for a chaat consisting of black chickpeas with onions, tomatoes, and spices. Chickpeas should be an essential part of the diet as they are rich in beneficial polyunsaturated fats like omega fatty acids and have been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Chickpeas’ high fiber and protein content also translates to helping regulate blood glucose levels and provide a feeling of satiety.
Lunch can also be made tastier, where diabetic patients can opt for chole or palak paneer made in less butter or oil. Bitter gourd juice has an excellent effect in controlling and cutting down blood glucose levels. The lectin in bitter gourd reduces blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite. It gives out a similar action to that of natural insulin. Bhindi (Ladyfinger) is another favourite vegetable with cholesterol-lowering properties that diabetic people can enjoy without worrying. The high fiber content makes it easier to digest, and it slows down the absorption of sugar in the intestine, thereby keeping the blood glucose level in check.
Lauki halwa is a healthy dessert option that diabetic people can opt for as it is low in carbs and calories and helps stabilise glucose levels. Munching on dates is another option to kill sweet cravings, but in moderation. One can indulge in such healthy desserts and cut down on their carbohydrate intake to satiate their sweet cravings. But keep in mind that desserts are for cravings, and one must not include them in their regular diet.
To end things on a moderately sweet note, one can enjoy a wide variety of food, even with conditions like diabetes, by eating in moderation, exercising, or walking.
Dr Anish Desai is MD, Clinical Pharmacologist and Nutraceutical Physician, Founder and CEO IntelliMed Healthcare Solutions.