#HEALTH: Eat smart to tackle diabetes

TAKING charge of diabetes can be a life-changing journey, and it all starts with the food you eat.

Your diet is like the canvas of your health, and by making some simple changes, you can paint a brighter picture.

Here are some ways to get started:


Start by embracing variety from the five food groups – grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy. It's not about cutting out carbohydrates entirely but about making smart choices. Carbohydrates are essential for the body, but too much of the wrong kind can spike your blood sugar.

So, say less to refined carbohydrates like pastries, cakes and biscuits, and opt for complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly.

Think grains like a variety of rice, noodles, whole wheat bread and cereals. Don't forget corn, beans, and legumes – they're your allies in the fight against diabetes.

And remember, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are your friends. They're loaded with nutrients, so enjoy them as part of a balanced meal.


FIBRE helps regulate your blood sugar and keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Look for foods with at least 3 grams of fibre per serving. The Ministry of Health recommends 25 grams of fibre daily, and it's not as hard as you might think.

You don't need to break the bank on fancy imported grains or cereals if they are not to your liking. Many everyday foods in our local markets are fibre-rich. Barley pearls, lentils, black beans, and even sweet potatoes are excellent sources. Embrace brinjal , spinach and cabbage too. And when you're craving something sweet, reach for mangoes, guava, or even jackfruit – all high in fibre.


Portion control can be a game-changer. Learn to estimate your food portions, especially when eating out. The rule of thumb is to fill a quarter of your plate with carbohydrates, another quarter with protein like chicken, lean meat, egg or tofu, and dedicate half the plate to colourful vegetables. Combining carbohydrate with protein helps stabilise your blood sugar.


Skipping meals or eating irregularly can send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. The solution? Have small, frequent meals to maintain steady blood sugar levels. This doesn't mean overeating – it's about spreading your food sensibly throughout the day.

Consistency in meal timings will not only control cravings but also help you manage diabetes medication effectively.


Exercise is your diabetes-fighting partner. Studies show that regular, moderate-intensity exercise stabilises blood glucose levels, strengthens the heart, and aids in weight loss. Find an activity that makes you smile and get your body moving for at least 30 minutes daily.

Whether it's dancing, group aerobics, or the gym, choose something that excites you.

Taking charge of diabetes is a journey of self-care and empowerment.

By revamping your diet, adding fibre to your plate, controlling portions, never skipping meals, and moving more, you're setting yourself up for success.

*The writer is a consultant dietitian and fellow of the Malaysian Dietitians Association.

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