One taken, one left
November 23, 2022
Addressing the secular Church
November 23, 2022

Diabetes – more than awareness but action

By Cherice Bronte-Tinkew

World Diabetes Day is commemorated on November 14 each year. It encourages those at risk to know their numbers when it comes to blood sugar and the signs and symptoms to watch out for.

Almost every family has one or two persons with diabetes. Too often I hear clients say it’s such a different diet being diabetic.

Yes, you do have to watch your portions, but a diabetic diet still encompasses all the six Caribbean Food Groups. This must be the foundation of a diabetic diet.

The Staples food group is always the trickiest for diabetics because our culture is rich with them. For example, sada roti and aloo or plantain and fried bake. All will be considered a meal to a Trini but is it the best option for a diabetic?

All these items will be found in the Staples food group but it’s just one of the many food groups needed for a meal.

Staples are rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates change into sugar eventually in our bodies and being the dominant nutrient in these meals can spike a diabetic’s blood sugar.

When choosing a staple food, one should go for high fibre. Fibre will be slowly digested and good for preventing blood sugar spikes. For example, to add more fibre, sada roti can be made with whole wheat and flaxseeds.

But the meal must be completed with another food group preferably a protein source from your legumes (peas, beans, nuts, and seeds) or food from animals. Choose lean meats such as tuna, fish, and chicken. Another option can be a whole egg boiled or scrambled which provides choline, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and protein. Yes, that’s vitamin B12 for better metabolism.

The more nutrients, the better for your body to function. Vegetables, another food group can be added for bonus fibre because fibre makes one feel full too. Therefore, you can have a whole wheat sada roti or bread, scrambled egg with spinach or bhagi at the side.

A person with diabetes can be at risk for heart disease and kidney disease so one must protect the whole body and not just keep a normal blood sugar reading. Many of the Caribbean food groups will do this. Especially the legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

The Legumes food group has good sources of magnesium, folic acid, and potassium. Magnesium is great for keeping good circulation in your blood vessels, folic acid needed for creating red blood cells, and potassium helps in muscles and controlling blood pressure.

Vegetables and fruits are rich in your vitamins A, C and E which are important for your immune system. It’s more difficult to control your blood sugars while sick, so why not prevent it as much as possible.

Finally, the Fats and Oils group complete the diet. There are great sources of unsaturated fats which help maintain good cholesterol, helps absorb fat soluble vitamins in the body and help make hormones. They include soybean oil, olive oil and avocado.

Baking, roasting, grilling and sauteing are advised as better cooking methods since they will use smaller amounts of fats and oils.

Remember to consider all the food groups just as you were to consider taking medication, monitoring, and visiting the doctor as part of your health routine.


Cherice Bronte-Tinkew is a registered dietician. She is a member of the Board of Nutritionists and Dietitians, and Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians.

Contact on FB/Instagram: JustCherNutrition;