When Dietitian and Diabetes Educator Khushboo Jain Tibrewala serves her diabetic clients, she knows she’s going to face some resistance at the family level — an obstacle that is one of the toughest to overcome, she mentions. In addition to the client keeping the planning in advance, she mentions that the person needs the support of the family. That means fewer tempting options on the table and healthier eating for the whole family, so you don’t feel left out!
To that end, with the aim of restoring vitality to its clients and giving people more choices, Khushboo founded The Health Pantry, an organization that delivers solutions by marrying modern science with traditional knowledge and wisdom. She works to bring the human body back to its “default setting” by working with those who have lifestyle disorders. For this, she also compiled the book Daily recipes for diabetes which is freely available to everyone. She followed with her second book The Fatty Liver Guide.
We spoke with the nutritionist about her goal and the reason behind writing the books.
What inspired you to write this book?
My diabetic customers! Most people suffering from diabetes have no idea what is healthy for them. And it’s not their fault. We’ve all heard random things like murmured and digestive biscuits are healthy, and rice is bad. This cookbook was created to show my clients and all other diabetics that daily meals from their own kitchen are enough for them.
When you envisioned this book, what was your main goal?
As mentioned above, the singular aim was to tell people that the food cooked in every Indian home is enough. If you look at the recipes, they are everyday recipes, just tweaked to be more suitable for diabetics.
How did you develop the recipes?
If you drop by my house unannounced, you’ll probably get some version of the recipes mentioned in the book. These are recipes I’ve developed over time. There was no process as such, just trial and error. For some I used a CGMS (glucose monitoring system) to see how these foods impacted my blood glucose levels, while others evolved after multiple versions, and still others are pristine versions of my mother and grandmothers.
What’s your favorite recipe from the batch?
I have two favorites. The first one is Mangodi Pulao, it’s such a clever recipe. Fast, easy and rich in nutrients, this one’s specialty is mines (a sun-dried moong dal dumpling). It’s the ingredient I’m most excited about in Indian food. The other is the Carrot and Beet Kanji. It’s something I’ve had my whole life. My become would send purple carrots from Delhi every winter and we would do with those carrots. Cut to 20 years later, I’m a nutritionist, studying probiotics, and I suddenly realize that the Kanji I used to flip over as a kid is actually a probiotic. This Kanji reminds me of my childhood, my become and the fact that it made me dig deeper into Indian foods and look at them as a nutritionist.
How was your process of choosing which recipes will go in? Are there any recipes you had to leave out?
The original document contained 87 recipes! There are so many that I had to leave it for another book. In this book, I only used those that I thought were the simplest and that can be easily used by a large number of people every day. I also tried to add at least one recipe from each part of the country.
What kind of lifestyle changes would you suggest those with diabetes make?
When it comes to diabetes management, I have developed a tool called ‘The Health Quartet’. It includes four pillars of condition management – Food, Mind, Activity and Nature. To manage, prevent, and even reverse type 2 diabetes, you’ll have to consider all four.
Food: Switching to a low-glycemic, whole foods, plant-based diet.
Mind: Managing the monkey’s mind, sleeping habits, stress levels.
Activity: This includes more than just an hour at the gym. The human body is designed to be active all day long, not just for an hour.
Nature: Understanding the Nature within you, using your body’s Natural intelligence, listening to your circadian rhythm. When someone addresses all four of these pillars, they are amply capable of reversing just about any lifestyle disorder.
What are your top three tips for anyone with diabetes?
There are three things I recommend to all diabetics and pre-diabetics. They are simple and don’t need extra time.
- Take a 10-minute walk after each meal.
- Spend five to 10 minutes a day interacting with nature. This could be walking barefoot on the grass, watching the birds fly in the sky while you have your afternoon coffee, watering your plants at home, or bathing in the moonlight.
- Make sure 50% of your lunch and dinner is vegetables.
These three changes alone can have a huge impact on blood glucose levels and inflammation.
How do you spread awareness as a diabetes educator?
I am currently using the reach that social media provides as a key tool. My social media and website are being built to become resource hubs for anyone with diabetes. The cookbook is designed to spread awareness. I’m also working offline with some doctors to run health camps and nutrition awareness programs for the masses.
What challenges have you faced from customers?
As mentioned earlier, these come from the family. In most cases, the person having diabetes is required to eat separate foods which are termed as ‘diet food’ while the rest of the family has ‘normal food’. The person also tends to become the butt of all food-related jokes. These are small things, but they will go a long way.Images courtesy of Khushboo Jain Tibrewala
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