If you have diabetes and coeliac disease, knowing what you can and can't eat is crucial. Fortunately, managing your diet doesn't require a master's degree in nutrition. For diabetics, understanding the glycemic index will enable you to choose foods that keep your blood sugar under control. For those with coeliac disease, knowing which foods contain gluten can mean the difference between good nutrition and a bad stomach ache or worse. For those who have both conditions, dietary restrictions can seem daunting, but armed with a little knowledge, you can make healthy choices and keep your illnesses from affecting your life more than they already do.
Diabetes and Celiac Disease
Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the body is no longer able to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin converts sugar and starches from food into energy for the body to use. Coeliac disease is characterised by a toxic reaction in the small intestine when a person ingests gluten, a protein in many types of grain. This reaction causes damage to the intestine, preventing normal digestion.
Diabetics need to consume food lower on the glycemic index, an indicator of how much a food raises blood glucose levels. If you eat a high-GI food, it should be combined with a low-GI food. Foods high in fat and fibre tend to lower the GI of foods eaten with them. Ripeness, processing and cooking methods all influence a food’s GI. The more ripe, processed and cooked a food is, the higher the GI generally is.
Foods For Diabetics
Foods low on the GI include 100 per cent stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, oatmeal (preferably rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, converted rice, barley, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, peas, legumes, lentils, most fruits and nonstarchy vegetables, and carrots.
Foods with a medium GI include whole wheat, rye and pita bread; quick-cooking oats; brown, wild or basmati rice; and couscous.
Some foods that should be eaten only occasionally or combined with low-GI foods are white bread and bagels, cornflakes, instant oatmeal, short-grained rice, boxed macaroni and cheese, white potatoes, pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, melons and pineapple. The American Diabetes Association recommends that foods sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners be worked into your food plan as you would work in other carbohydrates.
People with coeliac disease need to steer clear of foods that contain gluten. Many labels now indicate if a food is gluten free. Foods that contain certain grains or have been made with those grains are not gluten free and can cause a serious reaction in people with gluten intolerance.
Understanding food labels is important to avoiding foods that may contain gluten. Beware of anything containing wheat in any of its forms, such as durum, faro, graham, kamut, semolina and spelt. Also be on the lookout for foods containing or made with rye, barley and triticale. Wheat-free doesn’t mean gluten-free.
Some foods may not appear to have gluten, but the protein can lurk in foods like energy bars, imitation bacon, marinades, processed lunch meats, soy sauce, communion wafers, over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements. Check with the manufacturer when in doubt.
Grains that don’t contain gluten can be eaten by people with coeliac disease. They are rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff, flax and nut flours. There are also gluten-free oats marketed in the United States.
Most distilled alcoholic beverages and vinegars, while made from gluten-containing grains, are safe for people with coeliac disease because gluten peptides are too large to carry over into the product during distillation. Wines, beers, ales, lagers, and vinegars made from gluten-containing grains that have not been distilled are not gluten free, however.
Diabetes/Celiac Disease Diet
People with both diabetes and coeliac disease should eat gluten-free foods that are low-to-medium on the GI. You can safely eat regular and quick-cooking gluten-free oatmeal; brown, wild or basmati rice; couscous; converted rice; sweet potatoes; corn; yams; peas; legumes; lentils; most fruits and nonstarchy vegetables; and carrots.
While people with coeliac disease can safely drink some alcoholic beverages, they are quite high on the GI and not recommended for those with diabetes.
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