Half knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance!! – Thomas B. Macaulay
Yes, it is true that half knowledge is worse than ignorance and especially when it is regarding any disease, that too like DIABETES. Many times we rely on articles we get on the internet without even realizing that we need to be cautious enough before believing anything we see online. So, in order to break the bubbles of certain myths associated with Diabetes, one of Truweight’s Nutrition coaches, Ms. Sushmita Mukherjee, came up with this article to shed light on the statements we usually make when we talk about Diabetes and diabetes diet.
Following are the 9 common myths and facts about diabetes that we really need to know.
1. Myth- “Eating sugar causes diabetes”
Fact– According to American Diabetes Association only eating too much of sugar alone doesn’t always lead to diabetes, it also depends on many other factors. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and possibly an autoimmune response to a trigger. Whereas, Type 2 diabetes is caused by heredity and various factors such as overweight or obese, being sedentary, too much of stress, having high blood pressure.
So in simple terms, it’s not compulsory to say since somebody is diabetic because he had sweet tooth and vice versa.
2. Myth- “No to carbohydrates”
Fact- Zero or low carb diet are becoming quite popular. However, Carbohydrates can never be anyone’s enemy. They give us the energy to perform voluntary functions like walking, driving, talking as well as involuntary functions like respiration, blood circulation, digestion etc. It is never the carb alone rather the type of carb, quality and quantity of carb are what is very much important for those with diabetes.
We need to pick more of fiber-rich foods like whole grains such as Jowar, bajra, ragi , brown or red rice, vegetables and fruits, legumes, beans and limit on refined carbohydrates like Refined flour/ maida, white rice carbs, semolina, and avoid foods like cakes, chips, processed food, aerated beverages, packaged juice etc.
It is best to consume carbs with some protein as it slows down the release of sugar in the body hence controlled insulin secretion.
3. Myth- “Diabetic people can never have rice”.
Fact- Rice is one of the staple foods in India. So instead of saying no to rice carbs, thinking it to be one of the main causes of diabetes, choose the right type of rice that gives right carbs. Diabetic people should always choose unpolished or semi polished rice and avoid white rice. For eg- brown rice or red rice can be good options for diabetics. Brown rice is better than white rice not only as it has more fiber but also nutritionally more rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. Also, the GI is low in brown rice.
Eat the skin, which is a great source of fiber. When it comes to grains, choose whole ones (such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta), and remember that they shouldn’t take up more than one-quarter of your plate.
4. Myth- “Potatoes cannot be consumed if diabetic.”
Fact- Potatoes are high in carbs, but one can still enjoy them in moderation. Instead of having potato alone, make healthy combinations by preparing potato with protein sources such as green peas, or potato in a salad with veggies such as broccoli can be consumed. One can have a cheat meal once a week. The recommended quantity will be 50 g which is a small sized potato or if medium sized, take ½ portion
Another healthy alternative for potato is the Sweet potato. They have more nutrients, including beta-carotene, which gives them their color and definitely as the name it is not true that sweet potato has more soluble sugars than potato. Surely control the portion size to 1 medium sweet potato/ 50-60g raw sweet potato. You can have baked sweet potato as one of the options for dinner.
5. Myth- “Say goodbye to sweets and desserts forever.”
Fact- No need to restrict sweets completely. We believe sweets and desserts are the causes of diabetes. Yes, they do contribute but According to the National Institutes of Health, restricting yourself too much may eventually lead to binge eating or overeating. So the most important part is not to restrict rather control the portion size. Get over with the mentality of all or nothing. Take a small portion for example, in case of ice cream can have 1 or 2 tbsp once in 15 days or choose a healthier option such as blend thick curd with fresh fruit and have once a week.
You can try sweet dishes such as Rajgira laddoo or dates- dry fruit laddoo without sugar (40 g or 1no); ragi payasam 100g or medium bowl no sugar 1tsp jaggery can be added/ 1 peanut or 1 dry fruit chikki ) and try to have sweets or desserts in combination with some protein. Sweets should be taken only if having a craving and preferable in the mid-morning timing or before workouts.
6. Myth- “For Diabetes, fruits should be restricted”
Fact- According to American Diabetes Association, all fruits are allowed but you will need to keep in mind that fruits with high glycemic index need to be taken in a smaller portion. For example, fruits high in glycemic Index such as Banana, Mango, Jackfruit, Custard apple etc. can be taken in 50 g only while fruits with a low glycemic index like apple, orange, mousambi, papaya, pine apple, pomegranate can be 100 g. Daily one fruit should be consumed either as mid morning snacks or as pre workout meal can be consumed. Another option for including high glycemic index fruit is having in combination with a protein source like nuts or cheese to lower the glycemic index.
7. Myth- “Sugar-free products are healthy”
Fact– If you think sugar free products are great ways for prevention of diabetes, you are wrong. Sugar-free products often contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are the chemical or natural compounds that can replace the sweet taste of sugar without adding any calories.
Wow! Isn’t that great? The benefit of sugar without its side effect!! – Ideally no.
Yes, it is true that it doesn’t add on to calories but you tend to eat more high calories food otherwise, as it increases the appetite.
Also, the artificial sweeteners are hundred to thousand times sweeter than sugar without calories, so, our body craves for the calories.This makes us end up eating more calories as a result of which we put on more weight.
On the other hand, although excessive sugar is bad for weight loss still it is natural but same can’t be said of artificial sweeteners. The body sees the artificial sugars as alien objects and fights.
Truweight’s tip: You can have 1 tsp sugar in a tea or coffee once in 10 days instead of taking artificial sweeteners.
8. Myth- “Diabetic people should not exercise much”
Fact– Doctors always advice routine physical exercises for diabetes. Exercise helps burn the extra fat, reduces stress levels and helps control cholesterol and diabetes sugar levels. It also increases insulin sensitivity.
30-40 mins of exercise (eg-walking/ yoga) is very much recommended for diabetic people. It is desirable to have a 10 mins walking session, keeping a gap of 45 mins after dinner.
Truweight’s tip: Always take care of pre and post workout meals.
9. Myth: “Diabetes diet is all about reducing sugar and simple carbs”
Fact- It’s not only about simple sugar (Table sugar) and simple carbs to be avoided for the prevention of Diabetes. Yes, simple sugars need to be avoided or controlled, for example, stop taking table sugar in food and beverages. And avoid starchy products like potato/ white rice but along with that, we also need to keep a check on our consumption of refined food/ Processed foods like ketchup/ sauces/ jams and jellies, packaged fruit juices that have a lot of sugar. Also in fruits, there is simple sugar, so it is better to have one fruit (100 g) and have it before sunset.
In short, for managing diabetes, there are no short cuts, you need to improve your overall lifestyle. Reduce stress, improve sleep, be physically active, monitor sugar levels frequently and check with a physician regarding dosages and eat healthy to manage diabetes. We hope with this article at least some of your diabetes myths have been cleared.
Author: Ms. Sushmita Mukherjee
M.Sc. Nutrition and Food processing,S.N.D.T Women’s University,
Senior Nutrition Coach, Truweight