Health & Fitness

Best alternatives for wheat and rice if you have diabetes

In Short

Bajra and ragi are great alternatives for wheat and rice
Wheat and rice have a high glycemic index which can spike blood sugar levels
Potatoes should also be avoided by a diabetic as it can increase blood sugar levels

By Daphne Clarance: Foods like wheat and rice are often avoided by people who have diabetes. A person suffering from this lifestyle disease has to manage their carbohydrate, protein and fat intake. Experts suggest that in order to improve your condition, a low-carb and high-protein diet can help by finding alternatives.

“Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. It occurs due to a relative or absolute deficiency of insulin in the blood, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When the level of insulin becomes less or relatively less than the standard blood sugar level, the person becomes a diabetic. Because of bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, more and more people are suffering from diabetes, which is a painful and silent disease,” said Dr Shahid Shafi Consultant Internal Medicine, Ujala Cygnus BrightStar Hospital, Moradabad.

As a general principle, a diabetic should have a low-calorie diet. But, unfortunately, most health experts share that a typical Indian diet is loaded with sugar and carbs. “We have to find a way around it to curate our breakfast, lunch and dinner accordingly to get fewer carbohydrates and more protein,” said Dr Shafi.

He added that most people have wheat and rice, which are staple foods throughout the country. Rich in carbohydrates, these foods have a high glycemic index, which means they are broken down quickly in the body, leading to an increased blood sugar level. Sugary foods have a similar effect.


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“Some options that are alternatives for wheat and rice are pulses that have a low glycemic index and have low calories are bajra and ragi. You can have bajra which is a good source of fibre and use it to make paranthas. Raji is also a good source of fibre. You can consume multigrain oats. Make smoothies by blending fruits and sprouts for a nutritious breakfast,” recommended Dr Shafi.

He said that people across the country can find solutions according to the foods available in a particular region. “For example, if a person is from Gujarat, they can have dhokla, but it should be made with sprouts. The general principle we should remember is that the carbohydrate content must be low. We can cook dahlia with less oil since it is high in protein and have it with egg whites,” advised Dr Shafi.

Indian versions of pancakes can be made using oat flour or buckwheat. Besides wheat and rice, Dr Shafi added that a diabetic should also stay away from potatoes since they have a high glycemic index.

“Breakfast is important but should be moderated. It has to be in such a way that our calorie intake and energy expenditure remain in a negative balance. Some people who are taking insulin therapy must not skip breakfast since they have already been in a fasting state for 8-10 hours. In such case, they will be in a state of hypoglycemia, a low blood sugar level, if breakfast is skipped,” cautioned Dr Shafi.

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