Low Glycemic Foods; Diabetic diet

While many diabetic people will opt for a water melon as a way to supplement their diet with healthy foods, I would suggest a plate of ugali because of its relatively low glycemic index (GI).

Much of our problem with food arises from the fact that many of us are arrogant about how different foods affect our body. One thing that will go a long way towards helping you to eat better and healthier is a simple understanding of what nutritionists call the Glycemic Index.

Our carbohydrate intake is largely based on grains.

Typically, every meal is likely to contain one grain or another, starting the day with a bowl of cereal or amaranth porridge or a slice of toast for breakfast, to our staple maize and beans. A more European serving of pasta for a quick meal on the go is also based on grains.

Everything, from fruits to rice, contains some level of glucose. Glucose is some kind of sugar found in carbohydrate family, and it is the absorption of this that causes our blood sugar to rise leading to a string of events related to Diabetes.

In terms of weight control, ugali have a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly starch in converted to glucose, the energy 'fuel' of the body.

The foods that are absorbed faster are also used up faster, which means your eating of  (e.g. a few slices of white bread) will cause you to become hungry sooner (after, 2 hours) than if you ate millet (brown) ugali that gets absorbed slowly.

In addition, this slower breakdown of starch to glucose, as opposed to rapid peaks and drops of circulating blood glucose, is attributed to a slower release of insulin. This suggests that consumption of low gluten chapattis and mandazis prevents insulin resistance, which is how Type 2 Diabetes arises. To learn how to prepare low gluten chapattis and mandazis click How to Prepare Healthy African Snacks

Surprisingly, foods may not appear exactly as you expect in the Glycemic Index, For example, a water melon is fairly high up the index while ugali is moderate! This is because fruit is packed with glucose in order to make it more appealing to seed dispersal agents like animals, humans and birds, while low gluten foods such as whole grains (e.g. millet ugali) are actually low on the index.

In short, you should aim to limit your intake of processed foods and you are more likely to stay within the lower reaches of GI.

Millet (brown) Ugali                                                          
  • 2 mugs of millet flour (approximately 500 gms)
  • 4 cups of water in a bowl or sufuria
  • Bring the water to boil
  • Add the flour slowly while stiring with a wooden flat spoon 'muiko' to avoid forming lumps
  • cover the sufuria and allow the ugali to cook for 20 minutes, turning it once in-between
  • Before removing it from fire, mould it into a cone-shape, and then turn it upside down on a dry plate
  • Serve hot with a meat or vegetable stew of your choice
  • The above portion serves 3 adults
Cassava-finger millet ugali (Atap)
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 4 cups finger millet
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Mix the two flours thoroughly
  2. Heat the water in a cooking pot
  3. Remove 1 cup of the boiling water and put aside
  4. Add lemon juice into the remaining boiling water
  5. Add flour into the boiling water little at a time stirring vigorously to break the lumps
  6. Add the earlier removed boiled water into the mixture, little by little at a time mixing thoroughly
  7. Lower the heat, cover the pan and light cook for 5 minutes, mix again
  8. Mix thoroughly till the ugali is well cooked for 20 minutes
  9. Place on a serving platter
  10. Dip the spoon 'mwiko' in warm water and use it to mould the ugali smooth
  11. Serve 3- 4 people

For more on pictorial preparation of low gluten chapattis and mandazi (made from sweet potato, pumpkins and wheat flour) please click here.

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