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Dining with diabetes

Injecting more nutrition and variety in diets for diabetics and their loved ones.

By Anna Chua-Norbert


So you have a sweet tooth? So you’re a little pudgy in your belly? So mom has diabetes, and an uncle too? So what, right? Wrong! If you’re Filipino, overweight and love your sweet endings, happy hours and pulutan after work—congratulations! You just might end up playing patintero with diabetes for the rest of your life.

Consider what you eat

Diabetes occurs when there are high levels of blood sugar because the body can no longer produce insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas to remove glucose in your blood. Too much sugar in your body damages your other organs and their ability to function properly.

What you eat, when you eat and how much you eat all have an impact on your blood glucose levels. Diabetics need to keep blood sugar levels relatively stable. As a gestational diabetes survivor, here’s what I learned:

• Eat the same amount of food at about the same time each day.
• Eat more small frequent meals every three hours instead of three big meals a day—this keeps your blood sugar from spiking too high when you’ve had your first bite of rice and adobo.
• Avoid skipping meals or snacks.
• Limit your intake of sweets. Diet sodas are considered desserts too.
• Do not drink mixed fruit juices; instead, eat the fruit.
• Exercise daily.
• Read the labels of everything you eat. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
• Plan to have 175g of carbohydrates each day divided into 30 grams for breakfast, (insulin resistance levels in the morning are high so eat less carbs then), 45g for lunch, 45g for dinner, and the rest divided into two or three snacks.
• When having a fast-food craving, always go for a cheeseburger than a slice of pizza. It has less calories and carbohydrates.

Chinese Beef Stew

Chinese Beef Stew


2 kilos short ribs/kamto, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 thumb ginger smashed
1 onion quartered
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp liquid seasoning
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground Chinese five spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame oil
2 ½ cups water

  • Procedure:

1. Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Lower heat and simmer for two-and-a-half hours or until meat is tender. Serve with rice or egg noodles.

Makes 6 servings.

It is possible to have delicious and healthy meals, even though one is diabetic. Sweetness isn’t always just derived from food—it’s also found in the quality of your life, especially with the ones you love. 

About the author: Anna Chua-Norbert is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who was diagnosed with GDM. She had to be injected with insulin three times a day until the birth of her daughter Beatrice. Six months after the birth, Anna’s blood glucose level went back to normal and has remained since. 

For more recipe ideas from Anna, as well as a sample meal plan with corresponding nutritional facts relevant for diabetics, grab a copy of the November issue of HealthToday, out now in newsstands and bookstores.

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