Globally, an estimated 422 million adults are living with Diabetes, according to the latest 2016 data from the World Health Organization (WHO). In spite of the disease having reached epidemic proportions there are numerous misconceptions among the general public regarding the disease and the recommended diet. We at Hungry Hallows decided to celebrate World Diabetes Day by decoding ten common misconceptions regarding Diabetes and in particular the diet you should or should not be having.
1. Consumption of sweets and a high carbohydrate diet causes Diabetes
Diabetes (commonly type 2) is multifactorial in etiology and results from genetic , autoimmune and environmental influences. Diet is just one of the many determinants. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has clearly stated, eating too much sugar alone doesn’t cause diabetes, but it may only be a contributing factor in some cases.
Type 1 Diabetes is entirely genetic and immunological and diet does not play a part at all.
2. You need to follow a strict and rigid universal “Diabetic diet”
Although many people use the term Diabetic diet, nothing called an universal Diabetic diet actually exists. Historically, nutrition education imposed restrictive, complicated regimens on the patient. Current practices have greatly changed. Although you’ll likely need to make some dietary changes, such as limiting certain carbohydrates, and foods high in fats (especially saturated and trans fats), you can continue to enjoy measured amounts of many of the food items you love. It’s important to learn about portion control and carbohydrate counting. A nutritional programme keeping in mind personal preferences and cultural backgrounds has been found to be most successful.
3. Carbohydrates are bad for people with Diabetes
Carbohydrates form the foundation of any healthy diet plan including diet in people with diabetes. According to the ADA, for most people with diabetes, about 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal are typically okay. It is not carbs themselves, but the quality and the quantity of carb that you eat that is important for those with diabetes. You need to pay attention to portion sizes and carbs that are low on the glycemic index (GI) scale are recommended. GI is a measure of how quickly foods with carbohydrates impact blood sugar levels. Examples of low-GI carbs include:
Low GI : Homemade pasta, Beans, Whole Grains
Medium GI : Basmati rice, Brown rice
High GI : Corn flakes, Potato, White bread, Jasmine rice, Candy bars
4.Sweets and Chocolates are an absolute no-no for people with Diabetes
If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions. According to the National Institutes of Health, restricting yourself too much may eventually lead to binge eating or overeating which make your blood sugar levels go haywire. Stick to your personal carb target.
5.Protein and fat is better than carbohydrates for diabetes
Because carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels quickly, if you have diabetes, you may be tempted to eat less of them and substitute more protein. But food rich in protein, such as meat, may also be filled with saturated fat. Eating too much of these fats increases your risk of heart disease and stroke amongst others. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines, trans fats should be avoided as much as possible and saturated fats should make up less than 10 percent of your calories in a day. A Mediterranean style eating pattern rich in monounsaturated fatty acids may benefit glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors.
6. Fruits are good/bad in Diabetes
Fruits are an issue of major misconception among the Diabetics. Many people think Fruit is a healthy food and therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish. Others think that since most of the fruits are sweet, it is rather bad. The truth is that fruits contain fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals and are generally good to have. Fruits high in fibre such as papaya, apple, orange, pear and guava should be consumed more. Mangoes, bananas, and grapes contain more natural sugars than others; you can enjoy any of them if you stick to the proper portion and do not go overboard.
7.Sugar free products, Artificial Sweeteners and Diet foods in Diabetes
A sugar-free label on a product does not necessarily make it healthy. It may still contain a lot of carbs, fat, or calories. Be sure to check the nutrition label for the total carb content.
The ADA still recommends using artificial sweeteners in place of sugar to help sweeten foods without adding a lot of carbs. Keep in mind that some artificial sweeteners still add a small amount of carbs to your diet, so you’ll need to keep track of how much you use.
Regarding commercially available Diet foods, just because a food is labelled as a “diet” food does not mean it is a better choice for people with diabetes. In fact, “diet” foods can be expensive and no healthier than natural fresh food which you prepare yourself.
8. Minerals, Vitamins and anti oxidant supplementation in diet is required for people with Diabetes
Although many health care providers and dieticians stress on nutrient supplementation in people with Diabetes, standard Medicine and Endocrinology text books state conclusively that, currently, evidence does not support supplementation of the diet with vitamins, anti-oxidants or micronutrients in patients with diabetes.
9. As a Diabetic you are not allowed your occasional glass of alcohol
Alcohol in moderation is okay if your diabetes is under control. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that women drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day and that men don’t go over two.It’s also a good idea to monitor your blood sugar levels for 24 hours after drinking because alcohol can potentially cause your blood sugar to drop below normal levels and interfere with your medications. Thus being a Diabetic, you cannot go about drinking like you used to in your college days may be but then it is also wrong to think that you have to have complete abstinence.
10. While on medication you do not need to control your diet
This is one aspect doctors face a lot in their day to day practice. Patients tend to give up their control over diet when they are put on medications especially insulin. But it is extremely important to state lifestyle, including what we eat and how much we exercise, is the cornerstone of good health whether we have diabetes or not. Lack of control over diet ultimately renders the medicines ineffective.
DISCLAIMER: The above article has been compiled based on some references and have been put together by Team Hungry Hallows.