Diabetes can be defined as a group of diseases that results in too much sugar in the blood (high blood sugar). The common types of diabetes include; type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.
Pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes may present with no symptoms at all. Types 1 comes with the following symptoms; excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent hunger sweating, nausea or vomiting, bed wetting or excessive urination, blurred vision, fast heart rate, headache, sleepiness, or weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is usually characterized by excessive hunger, excessive thirst, fatigue, weight gain or weight loss, frequent urination, blurred vision, or poor wound healing. The symptoms listed above do overlap.
How you eat now after you have been diagnosed of diabetes really matters. Whether you have diabetes or not, once you eat, your blood sugar levels increase. After a while, the levels drop to acceptable values. Soon after that, you may feel hungry, meaning the body needs food again.
Most of what I see is the way people who learn of being diabetic blame their eating habits in the past for their present state of health. Some say I used to eat too much sugar. Others blame their dependence on alcohol among others. The way one eats now can make them develop diabetes in the future when the foods eaten are bad. So blaming past eating habits for the development of diabetes by patients is not a bad thing to do. It is however not right to say that the sugar you ate in the past caused you diabetes. Excess sugar from all sources (table sugar, fruits, starchy foods, pastries, among others) can lead to overweight and obesity which is a known risk factor to the development of type 2 diabetes.
In diabetes however, the body does not get the necessary help it requires from insulin to move sugar (glucose) from the blood into its cells where it is used as energy. That is why the sugar resulting from the digestion of starchy foods remain in the blood, causing blood sugar levels to rise.
It is not good to refuse food because one knows that when they eat, their sugar levels will go up. A healthy well balanced diet is required by everyone, especially people who have diabetes. This will ensure that there is no lack of nutrients and energy.
Starchy foods must be eaten in adequate amounts so energy levels remain high for wellness and productivity. The fact is that you are taking drugs that will aid your body to do the job of pushing glucose from the blood into cells for energy production.
Kenkey, banku, fufu, plantain, rice, wheat, bread, pasta, etc are starchy foods you should stop running away from. Leaving starch out of your diet makes your meals incomplete and not balanced. Your best bet is to however have them in reasonable quantities so your sugar control is good. Let a dietician help you with your required quantities.
Eat these starchy foods with stews and soups that are loaded with leafy vegetables. The fibre from these vegetables go a long way to slow down the rate at which your blood sugar level rises after these meals.
Also choose the starchy foods that will give you some roughage or chuff. This is why whole meal rice, also referred to as brown rice is a better choice than the polished rice, known as white rice. Wheat, oats, quinoa, etc are also fibre rich.
Regular visits to your dietician’s office will help you master the art of eating starchy foods as a diabetic. You will soon be taught the right quantities and combinations of these foods that will ensure an optimal blood sugar control. Once you understand this art, you become the master of your own food.
You must also eat these starchy foods at the right time. Do your best with timing, not only with these foods but with your medications as well. If you continue eating supper late at night, say at 9pm simply because you have to take a diabetes drug, the late meal will in turn be causing you to have high blood sugar levels. Thus there will hardly be a period where your drug therapy even delivers the results you need. It is always better to plan and eat supper early enough and take your drugs.
Take your three meals and snacks throughout the day. Your snacks can no longer be the usual foods that we know as snacks. Engaging in fasting here and there will get in the way of good sugar control so be careful. Delaying meals also amounts to fasting so eat by the clock. There are diabetic patients who are too busy and so get no time to eat. This is too bad. These are the patients who are likely to suffer from low blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycaemia.
Fats, oils and proteins are also very necessary components of the healthy meal that a diabetic must consume. These should be taken in moderation just as discussed earlier for the carbohydrates or starchy foods.
Eating lots of leafy vegetables as mentioned earlier is the way to go. Your stews and soups should be cooked with these vegetables (kontonmire, garden eggs, okro, etc). Eat vegetable salads as well. Do not go through the day without eating a leafy stew or soup at least once. Also eat a variety of salads. Having them between meals helps a lot. Even taking salads late at night before going to bed helps you get good blood sugar readings the following morning.
Remember to see a dietician for a diet regime that will help manage your blood sugar levels. They will also help monitor your progress as far as your food and your blood sugar levels are concerned. It is even better for a non-diabetic to see a dietician for advice on a healthy diet plan that will help them prevent diabetes.
Eat well and stay healthy!!!
By Wise Chukwudi Letsa