“Can people with diabetes eat rice or not?”
is a very common question that we come across in our daily practice. And the question is not wrong so to say.
So, for the uninitiated, what is diabetes? And why the hype about rice?
Simply, it’s a condition wherein the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body is not able to use the insulin produced in the body properly. Rice is such a grain which is known to be high in carbohydrate content and hence has a higher GI [Glycemic Index].
Glycemic Index of a food is measured in terms how easily it is absorbed by the body, hence easily spiking up the blood sugar level in the body; low GI foods take longer time to digest and do not dangerously spike up the sugar levels in the body. Which is why Rice is known to increases the blood sugar level of the body suddenly.
If we talk about the Indian population, it has grown up eating rice and roti as the staples. Now, it would be difficult to ask such a person to leave it all suddenly. So changing the way it is cooked or changing the variety and type of rice used would be a better and a sustainable option to go with. Also, carbohydrate counting is something that should be taken seriously. Take the help of your nutritionist who can help you figure out what your diet plan should look like and how should your meal planning be done.
But, coming to the main question, can diabetic people really not eat rice??
Diabetics can actually have rice. No doubt about it at all!!
So what can be done so as to eat rice, be happy, as well as ensure that the blood sugar doesn’t go up?
- The easiest thing to do is to switch to brown rice. This is known to be high in vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B, fiber, calcium, manganese, selenium etc. It is not as highly processed as white rice is and hence is a complex carbohydrate. Now, why complex carbohydrates are better as they take longer to break and the glucose present in this is released very slowly. Some also prefer having red rice which also has properties similar to that of brown rice and has a lower glycemic index.
- If sourcing brown rice or red rice is difficult, one can eat boiled rice too, after it’s water has been removed. But this has to be consumed only once or twice in a week strictly and not more than that. But this is just an easy solution for diabetics who love rice too much and don’t like the flavor and texture of brown/red rice. [Note: This is an indigenous/ayurvedic practice of cooking rice widely seen across households and hospitals. We could not find any scientific evidence supporting that cooking rice this way reduces it’s carbohydrate count!]
- Now, this is the most important of all that can be done. Find for yourself a nutritionist who can help you in planning the number of carbohydrates, timing of food if you are on a medication and portion sizes. Also if you are looking at losing weight with this condition it would be imperative that the same is discussed so that a proper plan can be made that shall help you in losing weight as well as maintaining your blood sugar levels at the same time. Also, do not expect any miracles to happen in a day or two. Give yourself time so that the body can adjust and start responding to the changes that are being made.
Diabetes is a by-product of an unhealthy lifestyle in 90% of the cases, the rest happens due to genetics, effects of medications etc. Though it cannot be reversed one can ensure that they eat right so that they maintain their sugar levels that can prevent a person from falling prey to other lifestyle-related disorders and have a smooth life ahead. One can really live with diabetes if food and physical exercise are given utmost importance..!
Having a master’s degree in the field of Clinical Nutrition, along with a background of intensive research on the subject, she guides people with different dietary requirements. From sports to people with varied lifestyles, she has catered to all during her stint with Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Working with corporates has been on top of her agenda to bring about a positive change in their lifestyles. So, while the corporates take care of the business needs, she takes care of the nutritional needs and keeps them going in the humdrum.
She can be reached at email@example.com for a consult.