In India, almost 1 in 3 people suffer from Diabetes Mellitus. Almost 1 in 2 people living with diabetes is unaware of their condition. But with increasing self-care and wide spread awareness people have become vigilant and have started taking measures to not only control but also prevent from the condition setting in. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition best maintained through Diet and Exercise for long term. But with so many different potential sources of information and schools of thoughts there is also lot of confusion. Especially when there are so many Don’ts involved than Do’s and stringent food habits in diabetes care it becomes overwhelming to follow any.
Hence to make life easier and more diabetes friendly lets bust 7 Dietary myths associated with Diabetes Mellitus.
Myth 1 – Fruit is not my friend anymore.
Fruits today have been made the enemy and are looked through only one perspective. Fruit= Sugar. Fruits are so much more than that. They have a combination of Nutrients (Vitamins and Minerals), Fibre (soluble and insoluble) and water. These micronutrients especially become of importance in people suffering from diabetes as they face a lot of deficiencies. There are various research studies coming up regarding the use of these micronutrients as preventive care as well as treatment methods to manage diabetes. E.g. Chromium is a micronutrient proven to manage glucose levels in body by enhancing the action of insulin. Fruits like apples, bananas are good sources.
Fibre in fruits help in slow release of fructose which again helps maintain steady glucose levels and at the same time good mix of soluble and insoluble fibre is extremely good for gut health and bowel health.
That being said, everything works only in moderation. Hence they key is to not avoid fruits completely neither going ham on it. Stick to one serving size of fruits which provides approximately 15-20 g of carbohydrates. That means one medium sized fruit in a day.
Myth 2- Sugar=Non- Diabetes friendly.
Sugar is found naturally in fruit, vegetables (fructose) and dairy foods (lactose). It’s also added to food and drink by food manufacturers or by ourselves at home. These types of added sugars are called ‘free sugars’. You are more likely to suffer from Diabetes if you are overweight as the excess fat makes it difficult for insulin to carry on its mechanism on cells. Taking excess calories more than the body requirement is what causes weight gain. Free sugars are nothing but empty calories which are turned into fat. So suffering from diabetes does not necessarily mean you completely cut out natural sugars present in fruits, vegetables or milk. It is these added sugars in your ketchup, baked beans, biscuits, sodas etc. is what you really need to curb.
Myth 3- Carbs are the enemy.
Carbs are not your enemy. They are the foundation of every diet. It is the type of carb and the portions that you consume them in, which affects your diabetes. Glycemic Index (GI) is the measure of how quickly food containing carbs may affect your blood glucose levels. So consume food stuff with medium to high GI (>60) like steel cut oats/ rolled oats, whole grain/multigrain flour, brown rice, quinoa, fruits, vegetables,etc.
Myth 4- Bye-Bye Desserts.
Go ahead and enjoy that small piece of dessert/ cake/ Mithai once in a while. The more you deny the body, the more you crave leading to complete breakdown. Remember always moderation is the key to good health. They day you know you have had your favorite dessert limit your other carbs in the day and strike a healthy balance. On an average eating 40-45 g of carbs in a meal is advised by ADA. So find your personal carb target and manage your diabetes.
Myth 5- Sugar- Free= Diabetes- Free
Do not fall for these marketing gimmicks. Not all sugar –free food are safe or calorie-free. Some of them may in fact contain more calories and other forms of carbs like starch leading to increased glucose level and weight gain. Psychologically when anything is labeled ‘diabetes friendly’ or ‘sugar-free’ you tend to consume them without any moderation as they seem safe to consume. This is when you tend to go overboard and consume more than the recommended serving beating the whole purpose.
Myth 6 – Carbs are the Enemy. Fats don’t matter.
Fats may not directly affect your blood glucose levels. But Diabetes is a condition linked with Hypertension, Cardio Vascular Diseases, and high cholesterol levels. To lower the risk of stroke, heart attack it is extremely important to check the type of fat consumed. Limit the intake of Trans and saturated fat. They are found in red meats, lard, cheese, processed food items and deep-friend foods. They lead to excessive weight gain which again may impair the action of insulin causing insulin resistance and increased blood glucose levels.
Myth 7- I am on Medications. I can eat whatever I want.
Remember, the dosage that you take and the medications which you are on are all decided by your doctor based on your individualized body profile. You cannot adjust your dose to cover-up for whatever extra you eat. You can never outrun your mouth. Most diabetes medications work excellent when taken in recommended dosage. Also, eating whatever you want without moderation and upping your dosage to cover up may invariably cause hypoglycemia leading to further damage.
In conclusion, Diabetes Mellitus care does not require any set diet or stringent rules which you need to follow. It’s an everyday lifestyle change that you need to adopt. Break those restrictions and eat mindfully. And remember always, Moderation is the key.