A study published in "Diabetes Care" in 2012 reported that Filipinos are significantly more likely to develop diabetes when compared to most other ethnicities. This may be partly due to the traditional Filipino -- also known as Pinoy -- diet, which is high in white rice, cooking oil and sugar. Eating too many of these foods can lead to obesity, one of the primary risk factors of diabetes. You don't have to give up Pinoy foods to manage diabetes, nor do you need to begin an unusual and restrictive eating program. A diabetic Pinoy diet adheres to the same guidelines that govern all healthy eating. You may, however, need to alter some of your usual Pinoy recipes and cooking methods.
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Eat Plenty of Vegetables
Filipinos with diabetes should plan their menus so that at least half of each meal consists of vegetables. Enjoy a variety of fresh, frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables daily, including Pinoy favorites like bitter melon, bok choy, carrots, moringa leaves or malunggay, okra, squash, sweet potato leaves and kang kong, also known as water spinach. Serve them grilled, steamed or roasted instead of fried or topped with a high-calorie sauce. Increase the proportion of vegetables to meat in traditional dishes like tinola or sinigang.
Choose Healthy Grains in Moderation
It can be easy to consume more rice, noodles and bread than you need on a Pinoy diet. Diabetics should limit their carbohydrate-rich foods to approximately 25 percent of each meal. Pick regular or brown rice; oatmeal; pan de sal; whole-grain bread; noodles such as bihon, misuwa or rice; and starchy vegetables like taro, cassava, gabi or potatoes. Avoid instant noodles, sweetened dishes like sweet rice, fried breads, baked goods like ensaymada and sugary desserts.
Have Lean Protein With Little Fat
The typical Pinoy diet includes plenty of fried poultry and seafood, fish canned in oil, processed and salted meat products, organ meats such as liver and tongue, fish dried in salt and fatty cuts of red meat like spare ribs and brisket. These foods are often cooked in lard, butter, coconut oil, palm oil or coconut milk, all of which are high in saturated fat. Protein should make up 25 percent of a diabetic's meal, but it should consist of skinless poultry, lean beef and pork, fresh seafood or fish packed in water and dried beans and legumes. Use only a small amount of vegetable oil like canola or olive oil when cooking, and choose grilling or broiling over frying.
Include Some Fruit
Diabetic Filipinos can enjoy fruit like papayas, oranges, pineapples, bananas, pomegranates, mangoes and tangerines daily. The key is to eat them in moderation -- have one small piece of whole fruit or 1/2 cup of sliced fruit with meals -- and to use them as a substitute for sugary, calorie-rich desserts. Unsweetened fresh or frozen fruit or fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice are your best choices. Have dried fruit, fruit preserves like sampalok and fruit such as jackfruit and makapuno canned in heavy syrup infrequently, if at all.
Don't Forget Calcium-Rich Foods
Each meal should include a serving of a calcium-rich food such as milk, yogurt or cheese. Swap the full-fat dairy, cream, coconut milk, sour cream and sweetened condensed milk often used in Pinoy recipes for low- or nonfat milk and yogurt and reduced-fat cheese. For example, in popular desserts such as halo halo, substitute evaporated skim milk for the regular variety. If you are lactose-intolerant or prefer not to consume dairy products, get the calcium your body needs from daily servings of soy products like tofu or tempeh, leafy greens such as bok choy, sardines or other fish canned in water and calcium-fortified breads or juices.
- Diabetes Care: Elevated Rates of Diabetes in Pacific Islanders and Asian Subgroups - The Diabetes Study of Northern California
- Business World Weekender: Diabetes and the Filipino Diet
- Nutritionist-Dietitians' Association of the Philippines: Diabetes
- Public Health Seattle & King County: Diabetes Meal Planning for the Filipino American Client
- American Heart Association: Eat Heart Smart Filipino Style
- American Diabetes Association: Fruits
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dairy -- Tips for Making Wise Choices in the Dairy Group