Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

How to Manage Diabetes: D is for Dietary Discipline

Diabetes-fingerprick testing for blood glucose

Having realised that there are many readers of my webpage who are Diabetic, I thought I should publish a few articles on this important topic, because in my practice as a doctor over the years I have realised that there are many folk with Diabetes who treat the condition far too lightly – and so do not manage the disease properly.

So for the next few weeks, I will write a series of articles on How to Manage Diabetes – and hope they will prove useful for my readers.

Now a Diabetic patient can have the best doctors and allied health professionals like dietitians, exercise physiolgists, diabetes educators and pharmacists whom he or she can consult – but when it comes to taking care of their Diabetes, these health care professionals are not waiting like geckos or flies on the wall of the patient’s house to watch the Diabetic’s every move 24 hours a day and manage their diabetes for them! It is only the person who has Diabetes who can efficaciously manage their Diabetes. In practical terms, this can be done by the Diabetic person making the correct informed choices when it comes to eating, drinking, exercising and taking their medications.

One of the most easy to remember mnemonics that I have used used to teach newly diagnosed Diabetics is the word DIABETIC.

The essential principles of controlling Diabetes effectively could be understood if one knew at the outset how to spell the word DIABETIC. Each letter of that word D_I_A_B_E_T_I_C  becomes useful in remembering one of the methods a Diabetic needs to use to control the condition.

The first letter D, for example, stands for “Dietary Discipline”. In simple terms, what this means is that what you eat is in large part responsible for the sugar (or glucose) in your blood. Diabetes is brought about by the body being unable to properly process the food a person eats, which results in this food being converted into glucose in the intestine. This glucose then enters the bloodstream and circulates through the body in large quantities.

Consequently, one of the most important ways of maintaining the glucose level in your blood at the appropriately low level is to ensure that what you eat is not rapidly converted into glucose.

It is important to understand what sort of foods are easily converted into glucose and rapidly enter the circulation after being eaten – and what foods are more slowly digested into sugars. In medical terms, foods are categorized by their GLYCAEMIC INDEX or GI factor. The higher a GI factor a food has, the more rapidly it is digested into sugar. In this category of high GI foods come sweets, cakes, desserts, white bread, alcohol, aerated waters and soft drinks.

Low GI foods on the other hand take a longer time to be digested. As a result, the glucose into which these foods are converted is absorbed into the blood stream more slowly and so do not rapidly raise the blood sugar level. Examples of low GI foods include vegetables like beans, broccoli and bitter gourds, leaves like melluns and spinach and cabbage, nuts like walnuts and almonds, pulses like lentils and chickpeas etc.

In addition to learning all about the GI values of foods from which a Diabetic can choose what is best for them to eat, they must also learn to develop Dietary Discipline – the ability to refuse, reject and avoid foods that will put their blood sugar up.

All the tablets and injections that a doctor can prescribe are useless if the person having the diabetes has an eye bigger than his or her  stomach – and eats the wrong type of foods in the wrong quantities!

Next Post: How to Manage Diabetes: I is for Intelligence



One comment on “How to Manage Diabetes: D is for Dietary Discipline

  1. Pingback: Diabetes – T is for Tablets | Sanjiva Wijesinha

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on April 27, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

Book: Tales From my Island