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Let’s admit it, we all have at least one weakness when it comes to food. It could be anything like buttery pav bhaji, cheesy pizza, crunchy samosas, creamy pastries, etc. The sight & smell of your favourite food may seem like a test of your self-control, forcing you to cheat on your healthy diabetes diet.
But before you start cheating on your healthy diet with those irresistible delicacies, ask yourself how much is too much?
To guide you better, we spoke to our in-house expert–Ms. Shilpa Joshi, Head of Metabolic Nutrition at Fitterfly. This article will explain what defines a cheat meal, how often you can opt for it, tips for cheating smartly, details about blood sugar monitoring after having one, and much more.
Cheat meals include foods that wouldn’t ordinarily be permitted on your diet plan or are considered indulgent with a calorie count that would steer you away from your health goals.
But the idea that a cheat meal includes unhealthy foods (like a fast-food burger or a bag of chips) isn’t always the case – one extreme could be swapping a balanced home-cooked meal with cheesy pizza, or the other could be having 5 chapatis instead of 2 as given in the diet plan.
Shilpa said, “Cheating on your healthy diet is never safe if you live with diabetes. Every time you cheat, your blood sugars go out of control for that day and create a ripple effect on the next day or two.
The spike in your blood sugars depends on how much you have cheated. A high carb food like shrikhand poori may keep your blood sugar raised up to two days”.
“Cheating once a week for normalcy is acceptable. However, cheating every other day can become an issue”, Shilpa added.
While living with diabetes, one of your biggest concerns is to keep your blood sugars as steady (in the target range) as possible. Unfortunately, combining this with the love (and temptation) for your favourite foods can steer you off course.
But don’t worry; here are some innovative ways to “cheat” responsibly:
Stick to what you’ll love the most, and skip the rest. It’s easy to be swamped by temptations on the menu. Instead, try to focus on the options you absolutely enjoy and crave. For example, go for your favourite item at a chaat corner, say pani puri, instead of binging on multiple items like dahi papadi, tikki, samosa, dahi vada, and bhelpuri. This will satisfy you, and the post-meal rise in blood sugars will also be less.
By doing so, you can drastically cut down on your calorie intake which can further prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes. For example, if you’re craving a sandwich, go for it. But have it as your dinner instead of your evening snack followed by your regular dinner. Otherwise, this would mean double the number of calories – sandwich (in the evening) and chapati sabzi (for dinner).
The cheat meal is an opportunity for you to eat what you like, not a mandate to eat what you can. Ms Joshi strongly advocates portion control. Yes, even when cheating. Her best advice is to eat a half-portion of the thing you love. So instead of having 4-5 pakoras in one go, eat 2 pakoras. Similarly, you may cheat with an open sandwich with only 1 slice instead of a sandwich with 2-4 slices.
Plan your cheat meal and try to make it as healthy as possible. For example, you can pair the lip-smacking pav bhaji with a healthy side dish. Just steam a few vegetables separately in the cooker, add olive oil, and sprinkle chat masala and salt. Alternatively, you can make a clear vegetable soup too.
Similarly, use the leftover cucumber & tomato slices of a sandwich to make a garden salad. You can add paneer and tofu pieces to this salad and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy it on the side with your delicious sandwich.
While preparing or ordering a dosa, avoid the potato filling. Instead, go for vegetable or paneer filling. Drink a bowl of sambhar a little ahead, and then later have the stuffed dosa.
Similarly, you may accompany aloo tikki with a big bowl of boiled chole topped with onion, coriander and tomato. Even with pani puri, add some sprouts to make it less potato-heavy.
By making these smart moves, you’ll not only overindulge but also get full sooner.
Never over-indulge while having your cheat meal, thinking you can skip the next meal. If you do so, it can cause your blood sugars to rise and drop drastically. Additionally, skipping your next meal can result in hypoglycemia, which can be very risky if you are on medication.
The stress of not eating is as big as any other stress in life. Eating is an emotion. When you don’t get the emotional fulfilment, your cortisol levels (stress levels) go high, affecting your blood sugars poorly.
So accept what you can eat, but this is the maximum you can eat, and you can’t cheat beyond it. Be appreciative of the good things in your life. Living a healthy life is not a sacrifice.
After having a cheat meal, check your post prandial blood sugars without fail. If your blood sugar shoots drastically (value is more than what your doctor has spoken about), please alert your doctor.
Don’t adjust the dosage of your oral medication on your own. You may adjust your insulin dosage after having a cheat meal only after speaking to the doctor.
Don’t turn a cheat meal into a cheat day. Instead, choose one thing you really want, but don’t turn it into an all-day cheat fest. Although you might have seen that a few people have a cheat day, they starve in the next few days – you can’t do that when you are on diabetes meds. Doing so may cause hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugars).
One of the most challenging parts of living with diabetes is sticking to a healthy diet. But no one really expects you to be perfect all the time. So if you want to cheat, do it safely under expert supervision.
Why not take help from the experts of a Diabetes Management Program like Diabefly Pro, who can fit in foods that feel like cheating (but they are actually not!).
Additionally, they will guide you on keeping your blood sugar in the target range to lower your risk of developing complications from diabetes. To know more about Diabefly, visit www.fitterfly.com/diabefly or speak to us at +91 2248971077 (Ext 1).
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