Diet Tips

Diabetes Diet Plan For Indians – What To Eat And Avoid

Reviewed by Merlin Annie Raj, Registered Dietitian
by
Diabetes Diet Plan For Indians – What To Eat And Avoid Hyderabd040-395603080 December 10, 2019

India is the diabetes capital of the world. Over 41 million Indians have diabetes, and this number is expected to increase to 70 million by 2025 (1),(2). The increase in the number of cases is mainly due to genes and environmental and lifestyle changes, like urbanization, a poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle.

While not much can be done about your genes, changing your diet and lifestyle can help manage and prevent diabetes. In this article, we have discussed a sample diabetes-friendly diet plan for Indians, foods to eat, and lifestyle changes that can help manage diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

The WHO defines diabetes as a chronic metabolic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin (insulin resistance) that is produced, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels (3).

How Does A Diabetes Diet Help Manage Blood Glucose Levels?

The management of diabetes needs a holistic approach that involves lifestyle management, along with good glycemic control and balanced nutrition to manage blood sugar levels. The right food choices often help manage blood sugar levels, improve blood cholesterol, and keep you in a healthy weight range. Always speak to a nutritionist and choose the right foods to control blood glucose levels.

Sample Indian Diet Chart For Diabetes

The Indian diabetes diet chart will ensure you have 1200-1600 calories per day, which is based on age, sex, type of diabetes, physical activity, and type of medication you are on.

North

MEALFOODS TO EAT
Early MorningOptions:

  • Fenugreek water (1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds soaked in a glass of water overnight)
  • Overnight soaked almonds (4-5 pieces)
BreakfastOptions:

  • 1 piece of brown bread with 2 boiled egg whites + 1 cup green tea.
  • 2 small whole wheat parathas (without ghee or butter) with 1 cup raita + 1 teaspoon pickle + ½ cup boiled sprouts.
  • Unprocessed ragi flakes/wheat flakes (½ cup) with one cup of low-fat milk and a pinch of cinnamon powder. For sweetening purposes, add ½ teaspoon honey.
  • 2 vegetable moong chillas with green chutney and 1 whole boiled egg
Pre-LunchOptions:

  • 1 cup cucumber, tomato, and carrot salad. Add a dash of lime, and garnish with coriander leaves and a few mint leaves.
  • 1 seasonal fruit (except for banana, mango, sapota, custard apple, jackfruit)
  • Unstrained vegetable juice/ bitter gourd juice
LunchOptions:

  • 2 medium-sized whole wheat chapatis with ½ cup rajma/chole +½ cup thin dal + 1 cup okra curry/ any other vegetable curry + ½ cup curd/raita
  • 2 medium-sized whole wheat chapatis with 3 oz baked fish + any vegetable curry + 1 cup raita
Evening Snacks
  • Green tea without sugar or artificial sweeteners. You can have one small cup of bhel puri or baked snacks.
DinnerOptions:

  • 2 medium-sized chapatis + any vegetable curry (any type of gourd, brinjal, capsicum, etc.) except for root vegetables + 1 cup dal/paneer
  • 2 medium-sized chapatis + chicken stew + any vegetable curry, except for root vegetables.
Before Bed
  • 1 cup of warm milk with a pinch of raw ground turmeric/cinnamon powder

East

MEALFOODS TO EAT
Early MorningOptions:

  • Fenugreek water (1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds soaked in a glass of water overnight)
  • Overnight soaked almonds (4-5 pieces)
BreakfastOptions:

  • 1 slice of toasted wheat bread and 2 boiled egg whites or 1 one whole boiled egg
  • Cucumber salad + 1 whole wheat chapati + any vegetable sabzi + ½ cup boiled sprouts
  • Cucumber salad + 1 whole wheat stuffed paratha + peas sabzi + 1 teaspoon pickle
Pre-LunchOptions:

  • 1 apple or orange or 1 cup papaya or guava
  • Any unstrained vegetable juice or bitter gourd juice
LunchOptions:

  • 2 medium-sized whole wheat chapatis + 1/2 cup vegetables, such as peas, cauliflower, capsicum, any gourd, green beans, etc. + 1 cup daal
  • Cucumber tomato salad + ½ cup rice + ½ cup vegetable curry +     fish curry
  • 1 cup of daliya vegetable khichdi + ½ cup curd
Evening SnacksOptions:

  • Masala puffed rice and green tea
  • Green tea and a fistful of roasted nuts ( almonds, pistachios, walnuts)
DinnerOptions:

  • 2 whole wheat chapatis + ½ cup chicken stew + ½ cup vegetable curry + ½ cup yogurt
  • 2 chapatis + ½ cup vegetable curry + ½ cup daal + ½ cup yogurt
Before Bed
  • 1 glass of warm milk with a pinch of cinnamon or raw ground turmeric powder

 South

MEALFOODS TO EAT
Early MorningOptions:

  • Fenugreek water (1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds soaked in a glass of water overnight)
  • Overnight soaked almonds (4-5 pieces)
BreakfastOptions:

  • 2-3 idlis with chutney and drumstick sambar (use less salt)
  • 2 dosas with chutney and vegetable sambar (use less salt)
  • 1 small cup of vegetable upma with chutney
Pre-LunchOptions:

  • 1 apple/ guava/ 1 cup papaya
  • Unstrained vegetable juice/ Bitter gourd juice
  • Tender coconut water
  • A glass of ragi malt with thin buttermilk
LunchOptions:

  • Cucumber and tomato salad + ½ cup brown rice + 1 cup sambar with lots of vegetables + any vegetable curry (with less spice) + 1 glass mint jeera buttermilk
  • Cucumber and tomato salad +  ½ cup brown rice +  1 cup vegetable curry + ½ cup fish or chicken curry with less spice + 1 glass mint jeera buttermilk
Evening SnacksOptions:

  • Green tea with roasted flaked rice with curry leaves and chopped garlic
  • Black coffee and ¼ cup homemade snacks (Use less oil)
  • Filter coffee with less milk and ½ cup roasted chana
DinnerOptions:

  • Vegetable clear soup or chicken and vegetable clear soup +2 chapatis
  • Mixed vegetable curry + 2 chapatis + curd
Before Bed
  • 1 cup warm low-fat milk with a pinch of raw ground turmeric or cinnamon powder

West

MEALFOODS TO EAT
Early MorningOptions:

  • Fenugreek water (1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds soaked in a glass of water overnight)
  • Overnight soaked almonds (4-5 pieces)
BreakfastOptions:

  • 1 cup red rice vegetable poha + ½ cup boiled sprouts
  • 2 besan chillas + 2 tablespoons green chutney
  • 1 cup vegetable oats upma + 1 whole boiled egg or 2 boiled egg whites
Pre-Lunch
  • 1 apple or guava/1 cup papaya
  • 1 glass unstrained vegetable juice/1 glass bitter gourd juice
  • 1 cup cucumber, tomato, and carrot salad
LunchOptions:

  • 2 chapatis + 1 cup vegetable curry + 1 cup daal + ½ cup curd
  • 3 oz steamed or baked fish/chicken + ½ cup rice + 1 cup vegetable curry + ½ cup curd
  • 1 cup vegetable daliya khichdi + 1 roasted homemade papad + 1 cup curd
Evening SnacksOptions:

  • Green tea with ½ cup roasted chana
  • Green tea with ½ cup green moong/ black chana chaat
  • Green tea with 1 cup ghee-roasted makhana
DinnerOptions:

  • 1 cup vegetable curry + 2 multigrain chapatis + 1 cup daal + curd
  • Cucumber salad + 2 multigrain chapatis + ½ cup vegetable curry + Fish curry or chicken curry
Before Bed
  • 1 glass of warm milk with a pinch of cinnamon powder or raw ground turmeric powder

In addition to the foods mentioned in the diet, you can consume the following:

Foods To Eat

  • Healthy Fats

Not all fats are bad. Aim to limit your saturated fat intake and increase the intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in your diet. A recent clinical trial showed a positive correlation between PUFA intake and improvement in glycemic control (4). Both the quality and quantity of fat matter in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

Foods To Eat – Fish, fish liver oil, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, avocados, and oysters.

Complex carbs with high fiber content are recommended for individuals with diabetes. A study on Chinese individuals with type 2 diabetes on a low-fat diet (LFD) and a low-carb diet (LCD) showed that LCD had better control over blood glucose levels as compared to LFD (5).

Whole grains contain fiber and help improve the glucose levels after a meal and maintain healthy insulin levels, according to a systematic review study (6). Avoid refined carbs with low to no fiber content.

Foods To Eat – Rye, oats, quinoa, millet, legumes, brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat, and low sugar bran flakes. 

  • Healthy Proteins

Consuming high-quality protein does not alter the post-meal increase in glucose levels. But a protein meal mixed with carbs increases insulin secretion, which can help regulate blood glucose levels (7). Include proteins with high biological value in each meal.

Foods To Eat – Lentils, Brussels sprouts, soy, kidney beans, tofu, hummus, pumpkin seeds, chicken, turkey, fish (sardines, mackerel, tilapia, catla, rohu, singi, magur, pomfret, cod liver oil, hilsa, tuna, and trout).

  • Vegetables

Vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Having at least two servings of vegetables (cooked or raw) a day will help you lose weight, boost your immunity, and develop good control over blood glucose levels. A study on Japanese individuals with T2DM revealed that the ‘eat vegetables before carbohydrates’ approach had better glycemic control than an exchanged based meal (8).

Foods To Eat – Spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, peas, capsicum, gourds, onion, garlic, celery, asparagus, beans, brinjal, lettuce, zucchini, tomato, broccoli, and kale.

  • Dairy

Dairy proteins (casein and whey protein) in milk, yogurt, and cheese exert a beneficial role in the management of diabetes by increasing insulin secretion (9). A cohort study established an inverse relationship between dairy intake and the prevalence rate of diabetes (10).

Foods To Eat – Low-fat milk, egg whites, non-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat or non-fat sour cream, and unflavored soy milk. 

Functional Foods For Diabetes

Functional foods with bioactive compounds can have a beneficial effect in managing blood glucose levels. The list of superfoods are:

  • Fenugreek
  • Bitter gourd
  • Psyllium husk
  • Millets
  • Brown rice
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Nuts and oilseeds – Walnuts and flaxseeds

Lifestyle Changes For People With Diabetes

As per the American Diabetes Association, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES), medical nutrition therapy (MNT), physical activity, smoking cessation counseling, and psychological care are the fundamental aspects to change blood glucose biomarkers (11).

Following a few practices, like waking up early, practicing yoga, working out, eating right, getting proper sleep, meditating, taking out time for yourself, going to bed early, etc., are a few changes that will bring positivity and happiness in your life.

Conclusion

Eating right, changing your lifestyle, and moving around more can have positive effects on your health. Always follow a balanced diet with a good exercise regimen to gain better control over your blood sugar level. Consult a doctor and nutritionist to get appropriate suggestions as per your medical status.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

I am 24 years old, and I have been diagnosed with diabetes. Does this mean I have to follow a restricted diet for the rest of my life?

It is not a “restricted diet” but rather a “controlled diet.” You can have anything you want, but keep a check on your daily sugar and salt intake. Yes, you need to avoid certain foods that, in general, do no good to anybody. Be active, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and practice yoga.

Will drinking bitter gourd juice or neem juice help to treat diabetes?

Yes. Doctors recommend bitter gourd juice and neem juice for individuals with diabetes. There is scientific evidence that bitter gourd and neem help in lowering blood glucose levels. You can either have boiled bitter gourd or chew three or four neem leaves first thing in the morning.

Bitter gourd contains an insulin-like compound called polypeptide-p or p-insulin. This compound can control diabetes naturally. Neem leaves contain flavonoids, triterpenoids, glycosides, and antiviral compounds that may help manage blood sugar levels. However, overeating may have hypoglycemic effects.

I am 62 years old, and I cannot do heavy workouts. Please suggest any other alternative.

Start by going on long, lazy walks. Later, pick up the pace of your walks. You can also practice pranayama. Work with a yoga expert who will guide you.

How much weight will I lose?

Check with your doctor to know what your ideal weight should be according to your age, medical history, sex, current weight, bone mass, etc. Then, plan your daily diet accordingly to reach your ideal weight.

Is eucalyptus oil effective in treating diabetes? Where can I buy eucalyptus oil?

Yes, there is scientific evidence that eucalyptus oil helps reduce blood glucose levels. You can buy eucalyptus oil from various online stores. Mix four to five drops of eucalyptus oil in warm water or warm milk and drink it. Make sure not to add too much of eucalyptus oil as it might be toxic.

Which fruits should I eat?

Eat gooseberries, black plum (Jamun), apple, banana, guava (not ripe), raw papaya, etc. You can also eat fruits that have high fructose content such as mango, litchi, and grapes. But make sure not to overdo them.

11 sources

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Priyanka Sadhukhan

Priyanka has over 8 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics with a strong research background. She is passionate and obsessed about science and how it can be applied to daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine and proper nutrition is key to achieving good health. She has also written a book on PCOS and its management for doctors and patients. When she is not working, she loves spending quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and endorses healthier alternatives to junk foods to promote good health.