Tips for a Diabetic patient: Nigerian doctor’s perspective

Diabetes (Diabetes mellitus specifically) is a disease most people are familiar with or have at least heard of. Its a chronic disease where the body finds it difficult to regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

So far, it has no cure however it can be managed with the possibility of the patient living a normal, very long, healthy and happy life. Proper management usually involves life style modifications ( proper diet, regular exercise) and appropriate medications(oral or parenteral).

Everyday during the course of my practice as a medical practitioner, I come across a good number of diabetics, most of whom show serious concern about their diet. Many of them complain that they are tired of eating beans and water yam alone and that people told them to stop eating most of the other meals they are used to. The frequency of this complaint made me realize that there is a huge misconception by the general public about what meal is appropriate and what isn’t for a diabetic. I always try to explain what a proper diabetic diet really is and many patients understand but many still get confused; hence I decided to research on it and use this medium to break it down to the simplest format for proper understanding of diabetics and people who have family/friends living with diabetes.

This meal schedule was designed to be both affordable and rewarding for any diabetic patient in the tropics; with emphasis on Nigerian local dishes and an unambiguous quantifying system. Any combination of the appropriate meals indicated below is okay as long as it is a balanced diet. Try not to let d measurements confuse you. The point is just to get an idea of the quantity required per meal.


– Bread (2 slices of normal bread or 3 slices of wheat bread or 1/3 of Senegal bread…costs about 120 naira )

-Corn flakes (3/4 cup…dry portion)

-Swallows: Amala, Semo, Semolina – 1 cup ; Wheat, plantain flour 1 1/4cup (1.25 cup)

-Eko (agidi) 1 wrap…costs about 20 naira + 1-2 moimoi (1 wrap + vegetables)

– Guineacorn pap – 1 cup + 1-2 moimoi (1.5-2 cups + milk)

-Unripe plantain – 1 moderate size + vegetable

– Yam 1.5 slices;

-Water yam 2-3 slices;

-Irish potatoes 2-3 pcs moderate size


-Garden eggs

-All vegetables


– Meat (lean meat)…1-5pcs per week -Chicken or turkey (remove the skin) -Fish (scaly fish…dried or fresh fish, stockfish/okporoko, kote, shawa, mackerel)

-Boiled Eggs…remove yolk(1-2 per week)

– Milk (skimmed milk e.g danoslim or marvel, soyabean powdered milk 2 tablespoon levelled/day.

– Tea (lipton, toptea, Eby’s tea, etc) -Low cholesterol Vegetable oil


-Sugar, honey, pies, cake, sausages, Gala & pastries

-Fried foods (akara, dodo, fried meat, fried fish, etc)

– Beverages (milo, bournvita, ovaltine, chocolate drinks, carbonated soft drinks and alcoholic beverages)

-Melon (Egusi) and apon

– meat & fish


-No pineapple, sugarcane, mangoes & banana

-No eba, fufu, lafun & iyan

-Do not skip meals!

– Exercise at least 3-5 times a week for 30-45mins.

All these were gotten from my research from nigerian medical articles. Comments, criticisms and contributions are welcome as I still need to learn more about diabetic diets for better managements of patients.

Research has shown that both green tea and black tea (Lipton, top tea, e.t.c) are beneficial in diabetes.

How should a diabetic diet look like?

Patients with diabetes are advised not to consume sugar, sugary foods and drinks, white flour and high-fat foods. Each meal should contain vegetables or fruits.

A proper and healthy diet will have a positive impact on:

blood sugar levels and reducing its rise after a meal,

blood pressure (avoiding salt and salty foods will lower your blood pressure),

cholesterol – lower fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood. You can additionally lower your cholesterol levels by following a proper diet,

your BMI (BMI – body mass index. Calculate your own BMI using a BMI calculator). Healthy diet will regulate your body weight. Obese and overweight people are at much higher risk of developing diabetes (type 2) compared to those with a healthy body weight.

If your blood sugar levels are increased for a longer period of time and no action is taken to lower blood sugar levels you may suffer permanent damage. This includes:

Eye damage: retinopathy – eye defects which may lead to formation of cataracts and blindness.

Kidney damage: nephropathy – renal failure over time.

Damage to nervous system: polyneuropathy – tingling, pain, loss of sense of touch and leg pain. Also possible outcomes are impotence and digestion problems.

Damage to cardiovascular system: accelerated atherosclerosis – angina pectoris, heart and brain stroke, vascular occlusions.

Problems with feet: formation of wounds that do not heal and lead to amputation of toes, feet, or whole limb.

Immune system disorders: urinary tract infections, fungal infections, lowered immunity.



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