Healthy eating and an active lifestyle are important for everyone, including people with diabetes.
A healthy diet and an active life plays a key role in managing diabetes as it will ensure that your blood glucose levels and your body weight are under check.
The average Nigerian consumes so much carbs without even knowing it. This might be sad news for a diabetic patient who is surrounded by high carbs consumers. The good news is that, it is possible as a diabetic living in Nigeria to eat the best of foods and not obsess every time about what you eat.
Many nutritionists will agree that the best foods for diabetic patients are most often whole foods that are not processed – nuts, fruits and vegetables inclusive. The perfect African food for a diabetic patient is one rich in fibre and low in carbohydrates.
While it should be of utmost important that you stay within the limits of your blood sugar level, being diabetic is not a death sentence to eating boring or bland foods. There are many healthy and varied nigerian foods that lower blood sugar which you can include in your diet without feeling restricted.
Perhaps you’ll find the list below of great help:
There’s hardly a meal that goes down in Nigeria without one soup or the other. Generally, Nigerian soups feature a rich blend of spice, taste and aroma. Okro soup, edikaikong soup, green amaranth soup, water leaf soup, ogbono soup, egusi soup, afang soup, bitter leaf egusi soup and the list is endless. Exploring soups from over 200 tribes in Nigeria will leave you having a wide variety of gastronomic experiences in your diet.
Stews and sauces
Have a go at tomato stew, garden egg stew, shredded chicken sauce, shrimp sauce, fresh fish sauce or stew and smoked fish sauce. It is recommended that you eat more fish (at least three times a week) because it contains a special type of fat (omega-3) that is good for your heart. If and when you decide to include meat in your stew or sauce, choose lean meat and trim any fat off before cooking.
Swallows are a popular traditional staple food to have in Nigeria. It is named swallow because rather than chewing it, you have to swallow it. The best swallows for diabetic patients in Nigeria are mainly in fufu form. They include wheatmeal fufu, guinea corn fufu, unripe plantain fufu. Pair any of these swallows with the aforementioned soups and your stomach will thank you for it.
Low carb meals
No doubt, your body needs carbs but you need to choose them wisely. Here are a few low carbohydrate meals that you can include in a food time table for diabetic patient: Brown basmati rice and stew, unripe plantain porridge, moi-moi, boiled plantain with stew, roasted plantain with fish sauce, plantain with beans porridge, beans and whole wheat bread. Millet is a great alternative for those who can’t eat wheat.
The Nigerian pear (ube) is perfect for snacking in between meals as it doubles a nigerian food without sugar. You may also want to consider other healthy snack options such as garden eggs with peanut butter, coconuts, boiled groundnuts, akara balls, tiger nuts and carrots.
If it provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to you and it is characterized by high calorie or simple preparation, then it a comfort food. Whether you need a pick-me-up or want to indulge, treat yourself to these comfort foods: Isi ewu, nkwobi, cow leg, cow tongue, fish pepper soup, chicken pepper soup, snail pepper soup, peppered snail, liver sauce and gizzard pepper soup.
Although water is generally overlooked when drinks are mentioned, it has proven to be one of the best healthy drinks you can have. Include zobo without sweeteners, guinea corn (Dawa) kunu, millet (joro) kunu and unsweetened yoghurt for a refreshing and zesty feel. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 2 standard drinks per day with some alcohol free days each week. Choose reduced or low-fat milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream and custard for those once-in-a-blue-moon times when you just want to splurge.
Additional tips for management of diabetes in Nigeria
Since you now know what to eat, it’s only proper that you also know how to eat and manage diabetes with healthy eating. A healthy diet used in the treatment of diabetes is similar to the diet recommended for anyone basically. Perhaps you’ll find these healthy eating tips for people with diabetes useful.
To help manage your diabetes effectively, it is recommended that you:
- Eat regular meals and healthy snacks, spreading them evenly throughout the day.
- Base your meals on high fibre carbohydrate foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, beans, lentils, vegetables and fruits.
- Make vegetables the main part of your meal.
- Reduce the serving size of your meals and snacks, as eating too much can lead to weight gain and make diabetes harder to manage.
- Watch the amount of fat you eat and limit the amount of saturated fat by choosing lean meats and low fat dairy foods. Very importantly, try to avoid fried takeaway foods, pastries and biscuits.
- Keep your weight within the healthy weight range by balancing the amount of food you eat with the amount you burn up each day.
- Make exercise a routine by joining a gym. When your stress levels go higher, so do your sugar level. Exercises have been known to generally reduce stress levels. Walking, tai chi, weight training, yoga, swimming and stationary bicycling are great exercises for people with diabetes in Nigeria.
- If you take insulin or diabetes tablets, you may need to have between meal snacks.
- Reduce the salt content of your food when you cook.
- Lastly and most importantly, talk to a dietitian. It is best to discuss your food habits with a dietitian so that appropriate dietary recommendations can be designed for your needs.
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