As important as the diet is in preventing diabetes, so it is in the treatment of individuals with diabetes. Some individuals with diabetes can control their diabetic state with dietary modification and exercise alone while others need to combine exercise and diet with medications.
The diet of the individual with diabetes is different from those without diabetes only as regards the quantity of food consumed. One of the key principles that must be understood is that people with diabetes can and should eat a wide variety of foods albeit in moderate quantities. The old practice of restricting certain food items in totality no longer subsists. The key words as regards the diet are moderation and variety.
Foods with high fibre contents are beneficial. Fibre is that substance in foods that is indigestible and thus does not have any calorific value. It greatly slows down the digestive process. Cereals (oats, bran, barley), nuts, legumes (various types of beans, peanut/groundnut) and vegetable have high fibre contents.
Whole wheat bread (brown bread, “wheat bread”), various types of fruits, various types of locally available bolus foods, whole grain products and vegetables should feature in the meal plans of people with diabetes. Similarly, lean meat, low fat dairy like yoghurt and skimmed milk, fish, white meat like snail and chicken and the use of oils like olive oil and sunflower oil are encouraged.
Meal planning is essential in people with diabetes. There are many methods of planning meals. One of the methods commonly used is the plate method. In this case, it is advised that one half of the plate should be filled with vegetable while the other half will be equally shared between carbohydrates and protein containing foods.