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Does food shopping seem confusing for diabetics? 10 tips for healthy food choices for diabetics

Food shopping is something which requires a little pre-planning. However, if you have individuals with diabetes at home like parents or in laws or if in case you have been detected with diabetes; it may seem confusing to choose appropriate food items. It is relevant to discuss this topic as most of the health problems crop due to unhealthy food choices. If we go to a food shopping mart and start with bakery items or instant snacks or soups, there are high chances that we may end up keeping right choices at bay and thereby allow negative effects of foods to take a toll on our health. In order to solve this problem, herewith are some tips that can help you choose healthier options and make your food shopping less baffling.

1. Dals and pulses

Prefer starting your food shopping with healthy items like dals and pulses. Prefer dals with skin as it contains more fiber like chilke wali moong ki dal, whole moong, whole masoor, etc. Prefer variety of pulses like lobia/ rajmah/ chana/ soyabean/etc. As dals and pulses are good sources of proteins and fiber, they are a must go for options for individuals who are on a diabetes diet. Also, it is important to note that some people may have diabetes as well as high lipids levels side by side and hence they too need good proteins and fiber, so dals and pulses should be given a priority on their list.

Nuts And Oilseeds

2. Nuts and oilseeds

Prefer healthy nuts like walnuts, almonds, kharek, etc. Walnuts are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Kharek is a good source of iron. Prefer white and black til — they can be roasted and added to salads. White til contains a good amount of calcium while black til contributes to iron. People with diabetes should prefer nuts but avoid ones in salted form or fried form as they negate the healthy effects of these powerhouses of nutrition. Hence, while food shopping one should pick plain nuts only.

3. Vegetables

When we say green leafy vegetables, people usually think of just palak and methi. However, it is important to note that others like green and red amaranth, sua bhaji (shepu), lettuce, iceberg, radish leaves, too are green and leafy and should be chosen. Carbohydrate-rich potatoes that add to starch and thereby increase blood sugar levels can be replaced with white/ yellow pumpkin.


4. Fruits

Select healthy fruits like papaya, apple, berries, pineapple, pomegranate, kiwi, orange, pear, peach, melons, etc. Avoid fruits like banana/ chickoo, sitaphal, mango and grapes as they tend to elevate blood sugar levels. Also, it is important to note that fruits when taken in their pre-matured phases do not tend to elevate blood sugar levels as much as the matured and ripened fruits do. Hence, a small elaichi banana when taken in pre-matured phase (not raw form, just tender enough to be able to eat) may not elevate blood sugar as much as the matured and ripened banana. However, before adding any such high carbohydrate fruits to your diet, it is essential to speak to your Clinical Dietitian/ Nutritionist as she can guide you on the basis of your blood reports.


5. Milk & milk products section

Prefer skimmed milk or zero or 1% fat milk. Avoid whole milk. Check milk for the expiry date. Prefer low-fat curd or paneer. Avoid khoa (mawa/ khoya/ khava). Avoid milk-based sweets or desserts.

6. Eggs, fish & poultry

Prefer eggs/ fresh fish/ lean meat like leaner cuts of chicken. Avoid red meat. Avoid tinned fish or meat items.

7. Cereals & breads 

Prefer multigrain attas (flours). Prefer a variety of flours like whole wheat flour, jowar flour, bajra, nachni flour, etc. Avoid the bread section completely and if needed select multigrain bread.

8. Oils and fats

Choose healthy oils like olive oil (for toppings) and either ricella oil/ canola oil/ groundnut oil/ mustard oil/sunflower oil/ safflower oil (for cooking). Avoid margarine/butter/ creams. You may choose healthy blend of oils made with low absorption techniques or even cold-pressed oils.

Packaged Foods

9. Packaged foods section 

Avoid packed section containing items like biscuits/ chivdas/ farsan/ packed curries/ instant cereals/ instant soups/ gravy premixes/ fruit juices/ cold drinks/ sweets/ chocolates/ desserts/papads/ pickles/ jams/ jellies/etc. As they are loaded with food additives their use should be as minimal as possible.

Non-Stick Cookware

10. Do not forget to visit the non-stick cookware section:

Invest in good quality non-stick pans and tawas that allow cooking with less oil.

Tata Salt

11. Bonus health tip: If you are a diabetic as well as have high blood pressure or if you have just high blood pressure, prefer low sodium salt like Tata Lite, Lona, etc. They help in reducing high blood pressure but note that they too need to be used in less quantity only.


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