6 diabetic diet myths
Diagnosed with high blood sugar and heartbroken because of all that food you have to give up? Don’t lose hope, says Sujata Mukherjee
The first regret, as soon as a person knows he or she has diabetes, is all that yummy food you will be banned from having. Bye-bye deliciousness, hello bland diabetic diet. But that is just it — there is no such thing as a diabetic diet. Experts suggest diabetics stick to a normal, balanced diet — with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in adequate proportions. That is not the only myth linked to blood sugar. Here are a few more that should really be debunked.
Total ban on sugar
You don’t have to give up your morning cup of sweetened tea. Half-a-spoon of sugar in your tea will help you feel satiated and fight a day-long sugar craving. Sugar triggers the satiety centre in the brain while sugar substitutes do not. You can also have sweets, cookies and ice-cream once in a while. Adjust calories consumed by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate-rich food accordingly.
Diabetics do not actually have to give up carbohydrates altogether. Just ensure that not more than 50 per cent of your calories come from carbs, preferably from fibre-rich, complex ones. Choose wholegrain atta over flour (maida), brown or wild rice, multigrain bread and whole fruits instead of juice. Have 100gm of fruits and vegetables daily, unpeeled when possible. You can also have small portions of mangoes or bananas.
Finished with fats
Don’t cut down on friendly fats. Eat almonds, walnuts, linseed, seeds of sunflower or ash gourd, dry roasted peanuts, avocado or olive oil in small amounts. Eat sea fish at least twice a week. Full fat milk is also healthy as are cheese and yoghurt. Mustard, sunflower, ricebran and olive oil are all healthy; use any two of them in everyday cooking but stick to three teaspoonfuls a day.
No more potatoes
Where 100gm of rice or wheat has 340 calories, 100gm potatoes has only 100. It also has a chemical called chlorogenic acid, which reduces insulin resistance. “Potato has a high glycaemic index (GI). As a result it raises blood sugar rapidly,” says endocrinologist Satinath Mukhopadhyay. “But if unpeeled potato is cooked with a lot of vegetables, the fibre in the greens bring down the GI of the dish.” If you love boiled potatoes, mix in boiled bitter gourd, brinjal or parwal. “If you love hash browns, have it with sautéed vegetables and 4-5 almonds,” he says.
Super foods better than pills
Doctors don’t think the so-called super foods can actually replace a balanced diet or medication. More research is needed to find out how amla, garlic, spinach, fenugreek, tomato, almond, bitter gourd and turmeric help in diabetes, what the active ingredients and how much you should have daily and in what way. Take fenugreek. Should you have it raw or drink fenugreek-soaked water? Should one have boiled bitter gourd or raw juice?
Bitter gourd is believed to help bile juice flow and aid digestion. It’s loaded with soluble fibre and full of charantin, a chemical that helps bring down blood sugar and metabolise glucose. If you have it juiced, you are likely to ingest pesticide residue. So have it boiled or in a mixed vegetable (shukto). If you use powdered or whole fenugreek as spice, it slows down fat, carb and cholesterol absorption, which is good for type 2 diabetes. Fenugreek-soaked water is unlikely to be beneficial.
Say no to alcohol
As in everything else, moderation is the key here. A drink or two once in a month should be fine. Remember to pair them with healthy snacks. “Never drink on an empty stomach; eat enough fruits and vegetables for fibre. Otherwise, blood sugar will rise all of a sudden,” warns Dr Mukhopadhyay.
Now that you know what’s a myth and what’s a fact, it is time for a new diet chart.