Heard of comfort food? It means any food that has some sentimental value, satiates your craving and is simple yet wholesome. When you’re diabetic and need to watch what you eat, you need a well-balanced diabetic diet plan that gives you all the nutrients in the right quantity is your comfort food.
A diabetic diet plan
If you’ve eaten a traditional Indian meal, you might recollect how it is served in a certain sequence. It typically begins with a pinch of salt, pickle, a salad and a sweet dish, with the rest of the menu following in quick succession. You soon have an array of lip-smacking fare before you, each food enriched with natural flavours to kindle your appetite, provide nutrition, aid in digestion and keep you satiated at the end of it.
The order in which you eat each meal can have a great impact on postprandial glucose and insulin levels. So, planning the right sequence in eating particular foods can help control sugar level fluctuations and ensure stability while providing you with the right amount of energy to keep you active throughout the day.
“Having a distinct order to your meal plan has been around for ages. Meal sequencing has gained greater interest and importance in a diet for diabetics,” points out Vrushali Jayesh Kale, a Thane-based dietician. “Getting the combination right in your meal is a wise move in diabetes management. Begin your meal with foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) and are carbs-free, such as proteins, fats and non-starchy vegetables before you eat those that have starch or high GI. Starting with proteins or fat can give you that feeling of fullness and reduce your appetite and hunger. This is ideal for weight loss,” she adds.
Smriti Prabhakar, a Chennai-based educationist who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes 16 years ago finds comfort in the healthy and flavourful diet she follows strictly.
“I begin my day with a glass of water. Breakfast is muesli, oats or boiled egg and a multigrain bread sandwich. If I’m hungry, I make myself a blueberry or strawberry, oats and honey smoothie. For lunch, I have a salad, dal with vegetable curry and rice. Before dinner, I have a bowl of fruit and then two multigrain rotis and vegetable curry. Twice a week I have a mixed vegetable salad of broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce and olives with a soup,” she shares. “I also monitor my glucose level at home every week to check if I’m on the right track with my chosen diet,” she adds.
How to serve a diabetic meal
Kale shares the best foods to begin your meal with:
- Protein: Eat any protein such as eggs, chicken, paneer (cottage cheese), tofu, yoghurt, buttermilk, chickpeas etc.
- Salads: Start with non-starchy vegetable salads with bean sprouts, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushroom, radish, tomato, capsicum etc. These have enough fibre to aid in digestion
- Nuts: Eat about a handful of nuts such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc. These are great for energy.
Measure the portions
Diabetes management is about mastering the art of balancing your diet with the right amount of nutrients. A concept called ‘Diabetic Plate’ is being studiously referred to by experts.
Dr Ami Sanghvi, consultant dietician, Mumbai, emphasises the 50:25:25 ratio Diabetic Plate as the flawless measurement of your meal.
“An ideal lunch or dinner for diabetics should contain 50 percent of non-starchy vegetables and salads which have a lot of fibre. Of the rest of the 50 percent, 25 percent should have lean fats and proteins and 25 percent of carbohydrates,” she shares.
What is an ideal meal for a diabetic?
Now that you know what to pack into your meal, Vaishali Verma, consultant dietician and diabetes educator, Manipal Hospital, Delhi, recommends a few foods to include in your day’s menu.
Vegetables-stuffed green gram (moong dal) idli with mint chutney
Sprouts pancake with curd dip
Missi roti with greens or vegetable raita
Chickpea flour (besan) pancake (cheela) with vegetable salad (raita)
Vegetable poha + sprouts
Egg whites omelette with cereal
Wholegrain bread (roti, chapatti, paratha or phulka)
Lentil soup or gravy (dal)
Mixed vegetable curry, yoghurt or buttermilk
A small portion of rice
Boiled chicken and vegetable salad
Sorghum bread (jowar roti)
Spinach and yoghurt cold salad (palak raita)
Broccoli and cottage cheese (paneer) curry
Green pea and mint soup
Stir-fried vegetables in olive oil
How to enjoy food with diabetes
Along with what you eat, how you eat matters too.
“Enjoy your meal with a calm mind and without being stressed,” advises Kale. “When you’re under stress, you tend to eat fast. This can spike your sugar level by 20 to 30 points. While a certain amount of sugar is used by your body as energy, the unused sugar is then stored as fat. This fat around your abdomen is visceral fat and is the leading cause of insulin resistance,” she says, adding, “Therefore, eat peacefully, slowly, and mindfully. Couple it with the right amount of exercise and hydration and you are in a comfort zone.”
Diabetic diet recipes
Expert dieticians have put together a few tested lip-smacking recipes you can try without inhibition. Have them at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
¼ cup – any millet such as foxtail, kodo, pearl, etc.
½ cup – onion finely diced
½ cup – deseeded tomato, finely diced
½ tsp – minced garlic
2-3 tbsp – coriander leaves finely chopped
½ teaspoon – salt
For the creamy turmeric dressing
1 ½ tbsp – sesame seeds, slightly roasted
¼ tsp – ground turmeric
1 tbsp – honey
1 ½ tbsp – lemon juice with the zest of lemon
½ tsp – grated ginger
½ tsp ground pepper
¼ cup water
2 ½ to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
First, grind the sesame seeds in the blender till they crumble. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and blend it into a paste. Then add all of the ingredients for the turmeric dressing and blend into a creamy paste.
To cook the millet
Pre-soak the millet of your choice in water for 30 minutes.
Add 2 parts water to the soaked millet (1/2 cup water for 1/4 cup millet) and pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium flame.
Allow the cooker to cool so the millet retains its graininess.
For the salad
Take a large salad bowl and add the cooled and cooked millet and chopped vegetables.
Add the creamy turmeric dressing and mix.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- By Anjali Dange, founder and chief nutrition consultant, Starlite Nutrition Center, Bengaluru
COTTAGE CHEESE STUFFED OATS PANCAKE
½ cup: oat flour
¾ cup: yoghurt (curd)
½ tsp: chopped green chillies
¼ tsp: roasted cumin powder
1 onion: finely diced
Salt to taste
Cottage cheese (paneer): a few cubes crumbled
Mix the curd with the oat flour to make a smooth batter.
Add chopped green chillies and onion, roasted cumin powder and salt to the batter.
Heat the griddle and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre and spread it around evenly to make the pancake.
Let it cook till the edges are brown.
Dribble a little oil around it and flip it over to cook the other side.
Fill it with the crumbled cottage cheese and fold it to make a crescent shape.
Serve hot with a vegetable salad in yoghurt (raita).
½ cup: Quinoa (Soak quinoa overnight in water and grind it the next morning with spinach leaves)
½ cup: Spinach leaves chopped (Add chopped green chillies sesame seed and salt to the mix)
¼ cup: Soy granules (Boil soy granules, squeeze out the water, sauté in olive with onion and bell ¼ cup: chopped bell peppers)
1 onion finely diced
Salt, according to taste
Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and pour it into a cup.
Keeping the pan on high flame, pour some batter into the centre of the pan and spread it out into a pancake.
Now, lower the flame, cover it with a lid, and let it cook for a minute in the covered pan till the edges turn brown.
Dribble a little oil from the cup around it and flip it over to cook on the other side.
Add the stuffing of soy granules and roll it up.
Serve with guava chutney.
RAGI MOONG DAL IDLI
2/3 cup: Whole green moong dal (green gram) washed and soaked overnight
1/3 cup: Ragi (red millet)
1 tsp: Oil
1 tsp: Ginger paste
1 tsp: Green chilli paste
Salt, pepper/red chilli powder: as per taste
Juice of 1 lemon
A small sachet of Eno fruit salt
Blend the soaked moong dal into a batter.
Mix the ginger paste, ragi, green chilli paste, salt, and pepper /red chilli powder, and lemon juice into the batter.
Add Eno and mix gently.
Pour the batter into idli moulds and steam for ten minutes.
- By Vaishali Verma, consultant dietician and diabetes educator, Manipal Hospital, Delhi