Meeting diabetic patients on a regular basis, has made me aware of all the diet mistakes they commit. Although diabetic diet is not a very special diet, there are still a lot of confusions regarding rice, banana, milk etc. Medical professionals too give incorrect advise on the diets to be followed. This has left a lot of diabetic patients frustrated and confused. Most of them just give up and go back to their old diets. Many assume that if they consume oral hypoglycemics or tablets that promote insulin release and activity, they do not need to make changes in their diets. Well, you do not need to shop for new foods or change all the cooking methods at all. It is not difficult manage diabetes and eat healthy too.
So lets decode and simplify the Diabetic Diet myths
Myth 1: Rice is banned in diabetes (evil in fact) and wheat is good (eat chapathis/rotis only)!!!
Rice and wheat belong to the same family of cereals and have the same amount of calories. But yes, white rice can increase blood sugars, so learn carbohydrate counting. Eat brown rice, parboiled rice and whole wheat products within your calorie requirement. Yes, you are allowed rice too.
Myth 2: Milk is bad for Diabetes
Milk and milk products are good for diabetes as it is a source of good quality protein and minerals such as calcium and magnesium which help lower sugars. Consume low fat milk products. Yogurt/ curds is a healthy snack for diabetics.
Myth 3: Zero fat diets help control blood sugars
No, they dont. Fat helps in improving the glycemic index or in simple words, the rate at which the sugar travels in the blood. So fat slows down the rate. So please consume healthy fats such as nuts such as almonds and walnuts, seeds such as flaxseeds, fish etc as this keeps you fuller and cuts down on carbohydrate rich snacks. Do not replace carb rich snacks for fat. Do not stop adding seasoning to your dals and curries.
Myth 4: South Indian breakfast Idli and Dosa are bad for diabetics
Wrong again!!! These dishes contain dals which provide protein and as well as fat is added and combined with fiber rich sambhar and chutney, which again improve glycemic index. Aim for smaller portions or quantities.
Myth 5: Go vegetarian if you are a diabetic !!!
Vegetarianism is assumed the best diet, but I have noticed a lot of vegetarians go low on protein. Before you become a convert, please understand meat, fish and eggs do not increase bloods sugars, in fact help in lowering the blood sugars. Vegetarians too should add milk products,dals and nuts to maintain bloods sugars.
Myth 6: Fruits are banned completely for a diabetic!
I partly agree as fruits can spike sugar levels and mess up with insulin sensitivity. It is assumed that eating a lot of fruits is good for health and some call themselves fruitarians. Diabetic or not, eat only 1-2 fruits per day for their benefits, not for the sugars.
Myth 7: Potatoes, beetroot etc are a no-no for diabetes!!
We Indians eat a lot of carbs from cereals such as rice and wheat products and also include starchy vegetables. In an exchange list, one serving of any cereal and starchy vegetable provides 15g as per the exchange list. Hence cut down cereal servings, if you do want to include starchy vegetables. For eg. 2 rotis + potato sabji(with skin) 1/2 cup instead of 3 rotis. Please leave the skin on the veggies to improve fiber intake.
Each individuals diet has to be tailored as per their requirements, age etc. So please meet a dietitian who can guide you the right way.