India is a diverse country. From the scorching summers in the centre to the deadly humidity in the east, west and the south and let’s not forget the severe winters up in the north. With such varied climatic conditions and eating habits, it is difficult to establish a universal diet plan for diabetic patients. So, in this article, we will look at Indian staples that are good for diabetic patients based on our diverse climatic conditions. We will try to accommodate as many regions, however, with a country as diverse as India, it is only normal for us to capture a few well-known staples.
Diabetics Diet For the Central North
The northern part of India sees harsher summers and winters often with a lot of dryness and lesser rainfall. Rooti and lentils with some healthy fats are ideal for the central northern diabetic diet. Vegetables like bitter gourd, cauliflower, cabbage, okra, and eggplant are native to the north and other parts of India and are good for diabetes. Leavy greens like coriander and Fenugreek (methi) are also great for those with high blood sugar.
During the winters, you can start off your mornings with a detoxifying cup of green tea or a warm glass of water with lemon. Avoid sweeteners like honey as it has the same effects as sugar.
Make sure the vegetables are cooked less in oil. Vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage taste good even if they are boiled with minimal salt and pepper. Sautee vegetables like okra (bhindi) in a low cholesterol oil to maintain its nutritional value.
Pulses are rajma and chole are really good for diabetic patients given that they are cooked in less oil. If you are non-vegetarian, baked fish is also a wonderful protein to add to your diet. Chapatti or roti is the preferred source of carbohydrate for diabetic patients. Make sure they are made of atta and kneaded with minimal oil.
Lastly, since the northern parts of India face a cooler temperature, diabetic patients living in this region need a small supply of healthy fats in their system. A small amount of butter or ghee to one of your meals is actually a healthy choice.
Diabetics Diet For the East
In the east, we see that rice is a staple along with non-vegetarian protein sources. It has a higher glycaemic index which is why you should have it in moderation. Also, try to substitute white rice for other varieties like the parboiled or red/brown rice as they tend to have a lower GI. This means that it takes longer to digest and anything that takes longer to digest is good for a diabetic patient.
Puffed rice is low on calories but it also has a high Glycaemic Index so make sure that you have this in moderation. Usually, a tea time snack with a small bowl of spicy puffed rice (jhal muri) will do you no harm but moderation is key. Though you may want to eat rice, do include chapatis for at least one meal.
As we said earlier, fish is a great source of protein as long as it is cooked to a bare minimum. Avoid having rich non-vegetarian dishes. Chicken stew or lamb stew is also acceptable as long as you have it occasionally.
Diabetes Diet For the West
The west is warmer and definitely more humid. The food on the west is generally healthy but many habitually of add more chilies into their diet. Breakfast staples like flat rice (poha) is actually very healthy for a diabetic patient. It is high in fibers and has a low GI making much healthier than regular rice. The traditional poha prepared with peanuts is also healthy. Peanuts also have a low GI and therefore reduces the chances of sudden sugar spikes. This is why the traditional poha is perfect for a diabetic patient. Make sure it is cooked in less oil and avoid potatoes for better results.
Misal is another dish popular in Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat. It is made of a variety of pulses and spices and often eaten with bread (pav). The multiple pulses make for a healthy protein source. To make the meal more nutritious, you can have it for lunch with chapattis instead of white bread. Avoid sev or potatoes on your missal.
Since it is really hot and humid in the west, you can have curd at least once a day. And if you are non-vegetarian, avoid oily preparations and eat leaner meat varieties (like fish and chicken) that is low in cholesterol.
Diabetes Diet For The South
The south also has some traditional dishes that are great for diabetic patients. The climatic conditions are similar to the west. It is hot and humid, which is why there is a regular consumption of curd and coconut. While the curd is great for diabetics, try keeping coconut to the bare minimum. Other well known south Indian staples include – the idli, dosa, and sambhar. Sambhar is very healthy for diabetics but idlis and dosas can spike the sugar levels.
They are loved so much because of their soft and spongy nature which only happens because of the high carb content. This means that though idlis and dosas are not unhealthy, they are also not ideal for diabetic patients. You can consume them moderately but look into diabetes-friendly idli and dosa options for a better lifestyle.
Other carbohydrates like upma made of semolina (sooji) is a healthy breakfast option for diabetics in the south. Avoid rice as much as possible and if you have rice at least once a day, occasionally substitute it for red rice, brown rice and parboil rice.
Other Healthy Diet Habits for Indian Diabetics
To maintain your sugar levels, you must eat in an interval of two hours throughout the day. Space your meals equally as light and heavy meals and avoid heavy meals, avoid non-vegetarian food towards the end of the day. India is diverse, and an article is never enough to cover all the dishes that are good for a diabetic patient.
In this article, we covered the most popular Indian staples that are good/bad for diabetics in India. Do let us know if you find this article helpful. We will definitely add a part two to this section if it piques your interest.