Semora Entertainment Works conceptualised and executed a path-breaking initiative called Diabetic Food Trail® to offer a mouthwatering experience to diabetics, pre-diabetics, and those who are super conscious of their health!
Diabetic Food Trail® launches today, on World Diabetes Day, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. The Nirogam team had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Seema Pinto, the Founder of Diabetic Food Trail® and we are happy to share it with you:
1. What is ‘Diabetic Food Trail’?
The Diabetic Food Trail® is all set to offer Diabetics, Pre-Diabetics and Health conscious individuals, a wonderful culinary experience at over 100 restaurants across Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. Beginning on the occasion of World Diabetes Day – 14th November, this unique initiative will add a whole new flavour to the term ‘eating out’. Acclaimed and celebrated chefs at some of the most popular dining establishments will showcase their culinary skills to present special ‘Diabetic friendly’ menus that would be complete, with nutritious and delicious choices, thus allowing patrons to indulge without worry.
2. What inspired you to address the dietary restrictions faced by diabetics?
The genesis of this idea came with my personal struggle through the years, to find an eating place in Mumbai which offers healthy food options. When we eat, we are not aware of what exactly we are putting in our system. Most people with Diabetes are unaware of the significance of a healthy diet on managing blood sugar levels. When you are home, you largely tend to eat healthy and simple food. As soon as you step out there are very few places that have healthy eating options, and practically no one offers a diabetic-friendly menu. Very very few restaurants cater to this huge population of 51 million people with Diabetes in India.
This project is very close to my heart since I’m a diabetic myself and know the challenges we face when we are out on work for meetings and need to have a meal, or when going out to dine with family and friends. For a person with Diabetes, the nutritional value of a particular dish is a key factor in knowing and understanding what they are consuming. Diet coupled with exercise and medication are 3 key ingredients to managing Diabetes well; and I hope this idea is communicated through the Diabetic Food Trail® This initiative is a collaborative effort to spread the word that we CARE for our health and we ACT on it.”
3. Do the chefs work with nutritionists in coming up with the diabetic-friendly recipes?
Yes, they were given certain guidelines by our Nutritionist and some restaurant chains already have a Nutritionist on board.
4. Have these recipes been tried and tested by diabetics? What were the tests done prior to and post meal?
Most restaurants have done internal testing and tasting and certified their menus by Nutritionist. We have in turn, validated and verified every menu by our Nutritionist to ensure the food is diabetic friendly and meets certain dietary pre-requisites when had in the right proportions. Having said that, every person has a different physiology and metabolism and must consult a Nutritionist to come up with a tailor-made diet for oneself. Every person with diabetes must consult with a Nutritionist for a diet, which would meet their individual requirements.
5. Are these recipes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian? Can you give some examples?
Yes, every restaurant that offers both veg and nonveg will serve both as well as the respective cuisines.
So a Sultan of Spice in Bangalore will serve Mughlai then a Mia Cucina in Mumbai will serve Italian and a Bercos in Delhi or a Benjarong in Chennai will serve South east Asian food. The restaurants will remain loyal to their cosines. The chefs have all reengineered recipes to make them Diabetic friendly.
Each restaurant will serve up a diabetic friendly menu which comprises sugarfree desserts, appetizers, Entrees, Mocktails and more. Every dish on the menu will have its nutritional values mentioned below it, so that a diner knows what he/she is eating and depending on the recommended diet by their nutritionist, they can make an informed choice.
6. Do these recipes cater to the Indian taste? Are the ingredients available in the local market?
Yes, that is a significant part of the Diabetic Food Trail® the perception is that Diabetic food is bland and not tasty or is bitter, The first thing that comes to a person’s mind is Karela (Bitter-gourd) when we say diabetic food. It need not be so. The restaurant chefs have done several tastings to ensure that the taste of a particular dish is not compromised.
All the ingredients are easily available locally and hence any individual can visit www.diabeticfoodtrail.com and avail of these recipes and prepare these delicious gourmet, restaurant style recipes in their homes.
7. How much weightage do you give to low glycemic foods, and why?
Geetha, the experienced and Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutritionist associated with the Diabetic Food Trail says “It is very crucial to to emphasize on the glycemic index of a meal for diabetics to allow for the gradual release and absorption of blood glucose to avoid glucose spikes. Where ever possible the glycemic index of the recipe has been lowered by using whole grains, pulses or poultry, fish and by the addition of healthy fats, fibre and vinegar”
8. Diabetics have complications like Thyroid, Cholesterol, Triglycerides and PCOS? What are some of the foods good for this?
Geeta Says – “For optimal thyroid function consume iodine rich foods found in sea food that helps in the formation of thyroid hormones. It is also recommended to use iodized salt for cooking and it should be added in the end after cooking to avoid its sublimation. Foods rich in selenium like Brazil nuts, cashewnuts, sea food, poultry also intensify the functioning of thyroid hormones.
For cholesterol opt for omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and its extracts from mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, til, avocado, pumpkin seeds which increase HDL. ?Choose oils like rice bran or olive that are high in mono unsaturated fatty acids that are good for the heart?. Saturated fats like coconut oil or ghee in moderation also increase HDL. Soluble fibre found in oats, barley, flaxseeds, insides of pulses/beans, fruits vegetables flushes out bad cholesterol
To reduce TG choose whole unpolished grains like hand pounded or brown rice, millets and avoid refined grains like maida, white rice and sugar. For PCOD opt for low GI wholesome unprocessed foods – unpolished grains, legumes with skin which are rich in fibre, fruits vegetables full of antioxidants, omega 3, restrict calories and fat, avoid refined grains like maida, white rice and sugar.”
9. Are these recipes approved by doctors?
All the recipes have been validated by Geetha G H. Geetha is Registered dietitian, CDE, Sports dietitian (pursuing IOC) for the nutrition validation of all menus and offering nutrition content for the DFT including answering some of the questions here.
10. Is this a purely local project or a global venture?
It’s a national project, hopefully with global implications. We hope this initiative effects a significant movement towards influencing the Food Industry to recognize the need of ‘diabetic friendly’ food products, given that we will be a country of 80 million diabetics by 2030 (World Health Organization estimates).
11. How much of an impact do you think ‘Diabetic Food Trail’ will have on improving the quality of life of diabetics?
A very significant impact. This initiative will present a person with diabetes to make an informed choice on what he/she consumes. This project is also an attempt to educate People with Diabetes to know how Diet affects blood sugar management.
12. What are the future plans for ‘Diabetic Food Trail’?
The Diabetic Food Trail® will be back next year, in a bigger avatar. We aim to roll it out in 12 cities in India, next year and plan to target twice the no. of restaurants, for a longer duration.
My vision is to see a healthy menu with its nutritional value mentioned under every dish, in every restaurant in India, served up, throughout the year.