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2023-11-15 Diabetes Awareness Month A Guide to Dietary Management (Blog) By Isha Patel

Diabetes Awareness Month: A Guide to Dietary Management

November marks National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to educate, and empower individuals affected by diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects how your body processes glucose, the primary source of energy for your cells. Managing diabetes requires a multifaceted approach, with dietary choices playing a pivotal role.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition characterised by elevated blood sugar levels. There are two primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: This is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes require lifelong insulin therapy to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This is the most common form of diabetes, typically diagnosed in adulthood. It is primarily associated with lifestyle factors, including poor diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity. In Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t use insulin effectively or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

The Role of Diet in Diabetes Management

Diet is a fundamental aspect of diabetes management, as it directly impacts blood sugar levels. A well-balanced diet can help control blood sugar, reduce the risk of complications, and improve overall health. Here are some key dietary considerations for individuals with diabetes:

  • Carbohydrate Management: Carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar. Monitor your carbohydrate intake and choose low-glycemic foods (whole grains, legumes, non-starchy vegetables and fruits such as berries) over simple sugars. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Fibre-rich Foods: Fibre is essential for gut health and can help regulate blood sugar. Incorporate whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your diet. These foods nourish beneficial gut bacteria and support healthy digestion.
  • Probiotics: Probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables can help maintain a balanced gut microbiome. These foods introduce beneficial bacteria into your system.
  • Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes. Measuring your food can help you control calorie and carbohydrate intake. This is crucial for blood sugar management and weight control.
  • Lean Proteins: Include lean protein sources like poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes in your meals. Protein helps you feel full and stabilises blood sugar levels.
  • Healthy Fats: Opt for heart-healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats are essential for overall health and can help manage blood sugar.
  • Regular Meal Timing: Eating at consistent times throughout the day helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. Avoid skipping meals, and consider incorporating healthy snacks if needed.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Processed and high-sugar foods should be consumed sparingly. These can lead to rapid blood sugar fluctuations and are generally unhealthy.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can affect blood sugar control, so make sure to stay well-hydrated.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer under running water. This helps remove the bitter saponin coating.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.
  • Once cooked, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, black beans, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and cilantro (or parsley).
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, ground cumin, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss everything together to coat the ingredients evenly.
  • Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to meld.

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