Your health in Type 1 Diabetes is dictated by your blood glucose levels. Those, in turn, are dependent on the medication you take and the lifestyle you follow. Planning a diet and knowing what to eat and what to avoid is an important key to manage Type 1 Diabetes. Let’s see how a Type 1 Diabetes Indian diet plan can help you live healthily with Type 1 Diabetes.
What is the Role of Diet in Type 1 Diabetes?
The food you consume is the main source of energy for your body. It is broken down into glucose (sugar) molecules and transported by insulin into your cells, where it is converted into energy required by the body.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the absence of insulin in your body means that glucose is not taken up by your cells and its levels in the blood go up. This can lead to complications such as heart, kidney, nerve, and eye damage.
In Type 1 Diabetes, you need to take insulin externally to stabilise your blood sugar levels as it is not produced by your body. The dose of insulin should be related to the amount of carbohydrate present in the food you consume, your activity pattern, your age, and the type of insulin used.
If you consume less amount of carbohydrates and the insulin dose is relatively high, you may encounter a hypoglycaemic state. On the contrary, if your carbohydrate consumption is relatively high when compared to the insulin dose you take, it may lead to hyperglycaemia.
What is the Best Diet for Type 1 Diabetes?
There is no standard diet for Type 1 Diabetes, but it is important for Type 1 Diabetics to make informed and calculated choices of food items for their diet. Foods with a low glycaemic index (GI), raise your blood sugar modestly while providing the necessary amount of carbohydrates required to produce energy for the body. Thus, low GI foods are a better choice for people with Type 1 Diabetes.
Eating a healthy diet with a range of macro and micronutrients can help Type 1 Diabetics maintain a moderate weight, and keep their cholesterol and blood pressure within target ranges.
A diet for Type 1 Diabetes should follow certain guidelines regarding the macro and micronutrients:
- Carbohydrates: A Type 1 Diabetes diet should include more complex carbohydrates and food with low glycaemic index, such as whole wheat flour, multigrain flours, millets, flours with bran, whole vegetables, fresh fruits, pulses, and dals.
- Fibre: Fibre can slow the absorption of sugar from food and help prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. You can incorporate fibre in your diet in the form of nuts, salads, unstrained soups, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- Proteins: Proteins help a person feel satiated for a long time as they break down more slowly than carbohydrates in the body. Proteins also lower the glycaemic index of meals as they slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. Include protein sources such as low-fat milk and milk products, fish, chicken, egg, nuts, and dry fruits in your meals.
- Fats: Fats play an important role in a healthy diet, but you should choose healthy unsaturated fats in your diet. Do not use excess butter, cheese, cream or mayonnaise in your food. Use olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc., as sources of healthy fats in your diet.
- Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals are necessary components for the vital functioning of your body. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are some of the richest sources of vitamins and minerals and should be included in plenty in your diet.
So which foods from each food group can a Type 1 Diabetic include in their diet? Here are a few options you can include:
Lean Meat and Dairy
Lean meat is a healthy option if you are a non-vegetarian with Type 1 Diabetes. You can include chicken, turkey, beef cuts, poultry, rabbit, and duck in your diet and limit the intake of unhealthy fats.
Milk is a source of fat and healthy, low GI carbohydrates (lactose sugar) that provide energy to your body, but also have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Skimmed or low-fat milk can be a better alternative to whole milk as it contains lower fat and calories but provides the same nutrients. Choose unsweetened milk and watch your portion size.
Non-starchy vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals. You should include plenty of non-starchy vegetables in your diet as plant-based diets are known to show beneficial effects on diabetes, weight loss, and blood pressure.
Non Starchy vegetables are fibre-rich and have less effect on blood sugar than starchy vegetables which contain sugar. Non-starchy vegetables include:
- Bell peppers
- Bamboo shoots
- Baby corn
- Green beans
- Greens, such as lettuce, cabbage, and spinach
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good source of fibre, which can slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood. They are also a good source of protein. Examples include:
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and cashew nuts
- Seeds: Pumpkin, chia, hemp, and sunflower seeds
Legumes include beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. These contain carbohydrates but are significantly low on the glycaemic index. They are a good source of protein and are low in fat. A few examples of legumes include:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Green gram
You should choose whole grains over refined grains as part of a Type 1 Diabetes diet. Whole grains are a source of carbohydrates, but their higher fibre content ensures that they have a slower effect on blood sugar levels than refined grains.
However, whole grains should also be consumed moderately, considering the portion size of the food and its effect on blood sugar levels. Few examples of whole grains include:
- Brown rice
Indian Diet Plan for Type 1 Diabetes
Now let us have a look at a full-day Type 1 Diabetes diet chart comprising Indian food items.
1 cup vegetable poha OR upma with 1 cup tea OR coffee (no added sugar)
1 cup of orange and grapefruit salad
½ cup salad + 1-2 chapatis (made of whole wheat flour) +1 cup dal OR roasted chicken + 1 cup curd.
1 glass milk + moong dal cheela topped with chopped capsicum OR roasted chana.
1-2 multigrain roti (jowar, bajra, or whole wheat) OR 1 cup brown rice + 1/2 cup beans curry +1 glass buttermilk.
1 glass milk + 3-4 walnuts OR 4-6 soaked almonds (to avoid low blood sugar levels throughout the night and until breakfast).
Know What Foods to Avoid
It is essential for Type 1 Diabetics to know what foods to avoid as well. Foods that are devoid of nutrients and can cause a sudden and drastic increase in blood sugar levels should be avoided. Some examples include:
- Added sugars
- Foods made with refined grains, such as white bread, pasta, and rice
- Sugary breakfast cereals
- Sweet treats, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, and candies
- Processed foods
- Soda, diet soda, and other sugary drinks
- Fried foods
- Foods high in saturated and trans fats
- Alcoholic beverages
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which your body does not produce or produces very little insulin. This elevates your blood sugar levels and leads to various health complications.
- There is no standard diet for Type 1 Diabetes, but Type 1 Diabetics should focus on eating a healthy diet with a range of macro and micronutrients and aim to consume more low GI foods. This can help them maintain healthy blood sugar levels, a moderate weight, and cholesterol and blood pressure within target ranges.
- Type 1 Diabetics can add lean meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and non-starchy vegetables to the diet plan as they are the best suitable food for Type 1 Diabetes.
- Make sure to avoid consumption of sugary foods, sweet treats, cakes, biscuits, pastries, fried foods, candies, sodas, processed foods, and alcohol as these foods increase the risk of high blood sugar levels.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
Type 1 Diabetics should eat a breakfast containing a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Options include multigrain idlis, methi paratha, sprouts, tofu stir fry with quinoa, scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast, besan cheela, and oats.
Type 1 Diabetics should avoid sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, candies, soda, diet soda, etc. They should also avoid processed foods, fried foods and foods high in saturated and trans fats.
Chapatis or whole wheat flatbreads are nutritious and rich in fibre and antioxidants. Whole wheat has a low glycemic index and thus, slows down the release of glucose into the blood, making it good for a Type 1 Diabetic.
Paneer or cottage cheese is a healthy food choice for diabetics as it contains protein and fats in large quantities and carbohydrates in a low amount. Paneer has a low GI value of 27. Because of the fat and protein content, paneer is digested slowly and does not lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Yes, potatoes are not bad for Type 1 Diabetics. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable, which means that they are rich in carbohydrates and can raise blood sugar levels. However, they are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Type 1 Diabetics can eat potatoes as part of a healthy, balanced meal, in limited portion sizes. Also, potatoes should be cooked in a healthy manner and without the use of too much oil or fat.
Although papaya has natural sugars, it is rich in fibre and antioxidants and has a glycaemic index of 60, which makes it a medium GI food. Type 1 Diabetics can eat papaya in moderation, after consulting a doctor.