How to Control Diabetes With Indian Food

Last Updated on December 16, 2021 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

The first thing that comes to mind after being diagnosed with diabetes is about what diets to follow. What to eat and what not to eat to ensure that the diabetic blood sugar levels are under control.

With the numerous food items that fall under our daily elaborate Indian diets, one must find it more difficult to choose some and avoid other food items.

We have a list of foods that you can include for better management of your blood sugar levels.

So let us get started.

Veggie causing Diabetes

Breaking down the important parts of a good Indian Food

Indian food is known for its variety of ingredients and the richness of several nutrients per meal. This is because of the healthy recipes and numerous rich items that we include.

When cooked and served in the right proportions, all of the dishes can give rise to a very healthy and balanced diet consisting of all necessary macro and micronutrients that one needs daily.

Inclusion of all the right nutrients with various dishes can benefit health and be a satisfying experience. This is a win-win situation for diabetic patients.

As per experts, you have to have a 60:20:20 ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. The daily calorie intake must fall under 1500 to 1800 for an average diabetic individual.


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Let us have a look at the elements that come under a good Indian diet:

1. Whole grains

Grains are a staple in an Indian diet. Be it lunch or dinner, grains usually make up the largest portion of our meal and aim at providing energy to the body.

Whole wheat flour bread – roti is the most common part of any Indian diet. It is rich in fiber and is a good addition to keep blood sugar levels steady.

Having rot in controlled portions is great as well as safe for diabetes patients. This makes it to the plate of most Indians for at least one meal of the other.

Following roti is rice. Rice is another staple for many people living in India. However, rice does not classify as the healthiest grain for diabetics as white rice is polished and removed from its good fibers.

However, even as a diabetic patient, 60% of your meal must have healthy carbohydrates. It is, thus, important to add in some foods that fulfill this category as well.

In many parts of India, whole wheat and rice are also substituted for healthier grains such as millets, barley, ragi, whole-grain corn, gram flour, etc.

2. Pulses and legumes

Pulses and legumes are also an inevitable part of the Indian diet. Dal is a crucial food item that is served in one or the other meal with fail. It is a rich source of protein that helps to keep the body well-functional and encourages growth.

A variety of pulses and legumes are available, which fall under the low glycemic index category. They are really helpful and also supply the body with fiber.

We will look at the best pulses and legumes that you can have as a diabetic patient.

3. Fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables indian food

Vegetables are a permanent item on the plate and can vary from dish to dish. In India, vegetable curries, salads, and other preparations are the most important secondary meal items right after the staple grains.

Several Vegetables are exotic to India and can be very beneficial for the health as well.

Vegetables are to be selected with care and must supply you with a lot of vitamins and minerals. They can encourage better overall functioning of the bodily systems and also protect you from diseases. There are plenty of low-starch vegetable options that can nutritionally enrich you.

They ensure that your digestive systems are properly functioning and also help with reducing blood sugar levels. They also keep the stomach stratified for long and reduce cravings.

Green leafy vegetables are the most beneficial of the lot. They are high in fiber and have almost no carbohydrates at all. Green leafy vegetables are available in many varieties.

They are low in calories and assist in reducing blood sugar levels. Moreover, green leafy vegetables are also rich sources of Vitamin C. This is an important immunity booster for the body.

4. Fresh fruits

Fresh fruits indian food

There are plenty of fruit options available to you as well, starting from seasonal tropical fruits to ones that can be enjoyed all year round. Fruits are also low in calories and lead to better immunity.

Experts have recommended having at least one whole fruit every day for diabetic management. However, it is essential to keep in mind that fruits are sugar-rich items and can contribute to spiking blood glucose.

Therefore, fruits are to be chosen with care and consideration. There are numerous healthy fruits that you can choose from. Fruits from the citrus family are the best and provide us with a lot of vitamin C and A.

We will list down some of the best fruits that you can have in your diet to aid diabetes management.

5. Milk and milk products

indian food Milk and milk products

Milk is also a common addition to the Indian diet. It is also used to make other products that can be good for diabetic health as well.

It is best to stick to low-fat/ skimmed milk. It provides a healthy amount of fat as well as minerals like calcium.

Buttermilk and curd can also be consumed with your diets for better control of your diabetic situations.

6. Nuts

Nuts are healthy sources of fat that help the body maintain cholesterol levels. This is useful in keeping cardiovascular risks away. A handful of nut serving is an ideal snack as well as serves your health.

Several varieties can be had as they are or added to dishes. They also provide satiety without hampering blood sugar levels.

So now, let us have a look at some food items that can clear the picture and give you more ideas about choosing the right diet.

What Indian foods should diabetics avoid?

Along with the many potentially nutritious and beneficial food items out there, Indian cuisine also offers some dishes that must be avoided. Let us have a look at few such items:

1. High-fat and high-sugar Indian sweets

India has a reputation for its diversity of sweets and desserts. However, these are an absolute no for patients with diabetes.

They are enough to spike up your diabetic levels as well as lead to considerable weight gain. They are high in calories, carbs and cause cholesterol.

The variety of Mithai, Kheer, Pedas, jalebis, and barfis may be very inviting but must be avoided completely.

2. Deep-fried oily snacks

Namkeens and deep-fried snacks like most samosas and tikkis are also foods to stay away from. These savory items add to the body’s fat, cholesterols, blood sugar levels, and so on.

They are high in calories and can harm your health.

3. Honey/jaggery

Honey and jaggery are said to be good substitutes for sugar and are often used in sweet dishes. However, they are equally harmful to your blood sugars and must be avoided.

4. Idli and Dosas

These are popular South Indian dishes that are enjoyed all over the country. However, they are made from rice. Too many of these can contribute to mismanagement in your diabetic health levels.

There are substitute ingredients like Rava that can make a healthier recipe. However, it must be had in controlled quantities only.

5. Parathas and naans

These are yet another delicious serving that can enhance the entire flavor of the meal. But as a diabetic, you should exclude them from your diets.

They are very oily, high-fat, and high-calories. Moreover, the use of refined white flour makes it worse for blood sugar.

What Indian food is good for diabetes?

We had a look at foods that you must avoid if you follow an Indian diet. You must have noticed that they are mostly fancy food items that are occasionally consumed.

Hence, you are on the lucky side. There are plenty of everyday items that are good for the body. Let us list them down as categories in an Indian meal:

1. Vegetables

Avoid having a lot of starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, etc. Stick to leafy greens like:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

Other vegetables like:

  • Bitter gourd
  • Cauliflower
  • Capsicum
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Gourd veggies
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms

2. Fruits

Have fresh fruits like:

  • Orange
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Amla

Do not have fruit juices. Stick to having whole fruits instead.

3. Pulses

There are plenty of pulse varieties to choose from:

  • Sprouts
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  •  Corn

4. Whole-grain flour

You can stick to using multigrain or whole-grain flours such as:

  • Whole wheat
  • Millets
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat

5. White rice variants

Instead of starchy white rice, you can shift to brown rice that has lower calories and carbohydrates.

6. Dairy

As diabetics, you can benefit from:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Ghee in limited quantities

7. Nuts and seeds

You can have a handful of:

  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds

8. Lean meats

White meat has lesser fat and is very beneficial for diabetes. You can have:

  • Chicken
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Salmon

These are some common food items that you can try out and alternately add to your diabetic meals for better maintenance.


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