Your food choices matter when you have diabetes. Some food sources are better than others.
Dr William Lumu, a diabetologist at Mengo Hospital and chairman Uganda Diabetes Association, says a person becomes diabetic if his or her level of blood sugar is higher than normal.
That is, 7mmoles of glucose in a litre of blood before eating and 11.1mmoles of glucose in a litre of blood after a meal.
“Blood sugar that arises from the food we eat is controlled by insulin, a digestive juice that is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin controls the level of blood sugar and one becomes diabetic when there is either no production of insulin or the insulin produced is not able to control one’s blood sugar,” he says.
A diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan that is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It should be low in cholesterol, low in salt and low in added sugar.
Eaten raw or lightly steamed, or grilled vegetables are a good choice to get fibre and little fat. “Go for a variety of coloured vegetables ranging from dark greens, red or orange like carrots or red peppers, whites (onions) and even purple ( aubergines). Steamed greens such as kale, cabbage, spinach with low sodium or unsalted are perfect,” he says.
These provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Most fruits are naturally low in fat and sodium but they tend to have more carbohydrates compared to vegetables. Best choices include fresh fruits, sugar-free or low-sugar jam, whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, millet, or amaranth, foods made with whole grains and no (or very little) added sugar.
He warns, “Avoid foods such as jam, jelly and fruit drinks, salty vegetables, or with lots of added butter or cheese, processed grains, such as white rice or white flour, cereal with little whole grains and a lot of sugar, white bread.”
Your body needs proteins and for diabetics, plant-based proteins, such as beans and nuts are recommendable. Also fish and seafood, chicken and other poultry (choose the breast meat if possible), eggs and low-fat dairy in regulated amounts.
Worst protein sources include; fried meats, pork bacon, regular cheese, poultry with skin, and deep-fried fish.