Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beat Obesity - Beat Diabetes



Obesity has continued to grow within the UAE, and so does the prevalence of obesity-related diseases and health complications.  Among these many health challenges, diabetes remains as a major concern in the country. Latest figures from the International Diabetes Federation reveal that 19% of the UAE population is affected by diabetes, and that the country ranks fifth in the region for diabetes prevalence.



Health complications such as nerve damage, eye and foot problems, as well as possible kidney damage, are just some of the concerns associated with uncontrolled diabetes.  Experts agree that controlling one’s blood sugar levels is the best way to treat diabetes and decrease its symptoms. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet along with regular physical activity can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Right Bite, the pioneer in healthy meal delivery service, joins the global call for greater awareness and education to fight diabetes in light of the celebration of World Diabetes Day on November 14. Here are top recommendations for a diabetes-busting healthy diet from Right Bite dietitian Riham Shamseddine:

1.     Shed off the extra pounds if you are overweight or suffering from obesity

·         Aim for a healthy weight loss of an average of 0.5 to 1 kg per week, under the supervision of your dietitian or your physician

·         Follow a healthy and balanced regimen that includes meals from all the main five food groups (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy products)



2.     Eat more frequent but smaller meals

·         Eating small meals but more frequently at consistent times helps improve blood sugar levels

·         Aim to have 3 main meals with 1 – 2 healthy snacks as recommended by your healthcare provider

·         Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast as it helps you kick start your metabolism and prevents hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar) from happening



3.     Practice portion control

·         Eating smart is not enough. Portion control is very important as it is essential to consume the right amount of calories if we are planning to lose weight. Weight gain is one of the major risk factors for diabetes


4.     Forget the myth of eliminating carbohydrates from your diet plan

·          Eat carbohydrates in moderation, as they should constitute around 45% of your total daily intake

·          Choosing the right type of carbohydrates, which are a major source of energy, helps in regulating blood sugar levels

·          Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa and whole-grain breads instead of the white and refined ones. Whole-grain is rich in fiber which keeps you full for a longer period and is essential to decrease the absorption of glucose in the blood

·          Avoid simple sugar such as table sugar, honey, candies, sodas, cookies and cakes

·          Make sure to include fruits daily especially the ones with the edible skin and stay away from dried fruits and fresh juices even if fresh and unsweetened or without any added sugar

·         Consume more green leafy vegetables at each meal as they are also rich in fiber and help reduce the absorption of glucose in the blood



5.     Reduce your sugar intake

·         Practice smart swaps: replace sugar-coated cereals with unsweetened and plain whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal

·         Avoid adding sugar to your beverages. You can flavor your beverages with fresh lemon wedges, peppermint, ginger or cinnamon sticks

·         Substitute flavored puddings or sweets with fresh fruits, plain yogurt, or yogurt with fresh chunks of fruits

·         Stay away from artificial sweeteners and zero sugar beverages and sweets


·         6.     Lower your intake of salt to maintain a healthy blood pressure

·         Don’t add salt to your meals, use spices and herbs to flavor your favorite dishes

·          Avoid condiments such as mustard, ketchup, soy sauce as they are very high in sodium

·         Avoid the use of cooking stocks and ready-to use cooking powders

·          Limit the consumption of cold cuts and smoked meat/fish

·          Cut down on ready-made foods, soups, frozen meals, olives, pickles and canned items as they are also very rich in sodium



7.     Include the “good fats”

·           Avoid the use of saturated fats (solid fat at room temperature) like butter and ghee

·          Choose unsaturated fats like olive oil to dress your salads

·           Substitute salted and roasted nuts with unsalted, raw ones

·           Consume skinless chicken breast  instead of chicken thighs and wings

·          Replace lamb with beef fillet as the fat percent is much less

·           Aim to consume at least twice a week a fatty fish like fresh salmon or tuna as they are rich in the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acid

8.     Use the Plate Method to guide you
·         Keep only about 1/4 of your plate for starchy foods including starchy vegetables or grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta
·         Fill half of your plate with green leafy and non-starchy vegetables
·          The last quarter is for your lean protein foods such as fish, salmon or skinless chicken breast; to keep portions smaller, keep the food to a depth of about the thickness of your palm

9.     Get physically active

·         Aim to be active at least 3 times a week for a total of 150 minutes. Practice your favorite sports such as dancing, swimming, football ,tennis

·         Always check your blood glucose (sugar) levels before any type of activity as high blood glucose levels with heavy activity can lead to hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar) and many other complications

·          Consult your physician prior to starting any exercise routine

Not only does a healthy lifestyle maintain proper levels of blood sugar, it also may aid in the weight loss process which is a major risk factor for diabetes


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