By Zannat Reza @food4happiness
Are you savvy about diabetes?
Chances are you know someone who has diabetes. As South Asians, we are three to five times more likely to have diabetes compared to the Caucasian population. Why? Some theories say it’s a genetic predisposition, while others state that South Asians are more likely to have fat collect around their abdomens, which affects how your body reacts to insulin.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes (a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).
The vast majority of people (90 percent) have type 2 diabetes. This is when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when your body does not use the insulin that is produced well. Insulin controls how much sugar you have in your blood.
Signs you may have diabetes:
- Thirsty all the time
- Going to the washroom to pee frequently
- Gaining or losing weight suddenly
- Extremely tired or lack of energy
- Blurry vision
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
(Source: the Canadian Diabetes Association)
The frustrating part is that many people who have type 2 diabetes may not experience any of these symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of diabetes.
Here are five food things you can do to keep diabetes at bay:
- Eat more vegetables: Loaded with antioxidants and other protective plant compounds, vegetables are your BFFs in fighting diabetes. Fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal.
- Switch to whole grains: Research has shown that whole grains can reduce your risk of diabetes and increase your lifespan. Many chapatis, rotis and naans are available in whole grain versions. Swap brown rice for white. If you can’t give up white rice, cook up a half and half mix with brown rice. You may not notice the difference.
- Love your lentils: Rich in fibre, lentils are also protein powerhouses. Both help keep blood sugar levels even. Incorporate lentils into your favourite dishes.
- Dial down the oil and frying: If you see a pool of oil at the top of your curries, then it’s time to rethink how much you use. Baking uses less oil and helps to keep fat under control. You can still mix in your favourite spices to make foods flavourful.
- Keep portions in check: Use smaller plates, cups and bowls. You’ll still feel satisfied but you may save yourself up to 30 percent calories. Wait 20 minutes before reaching for seconds. While this is sometimes hard to do, your brain needs that time to figure out whether you’re full.
Being active is also important in preventing diabetes. Going for walks, playing with your kids, climbing stairs and just moving goes a long way in keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
Recipe: Begoon bhortha (mashed eggplant)
This silky side dish is a Bengali version of mashed eggplant.
- 1 large round eggplant
- 4 tsp olive oil, divided in half
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup diced onion
¼ tsp salt or to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Pierce all over with fork.
- Rub 2 tsp olive oil all over both halves.
- Bake cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet for 30-40 minutes.
- Eggplant is done once it collapses and the skin is wrinkly.
- Cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out flesh into a medium bowl.
- Add remaining oil, cilantro, onion, salt and red pepper flakes if using.
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