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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Debunking some of the diabetic diet myths

Diabetes (type 2) has turned into an epidemic over the past recent years, particularly in urban settings. A lot of myths still prevail regarding a diabetic diet which becomes a hindrance towards opting for correct eating choices and healthier lifestyle practices. Diabetes is basically a metabolic disorder that arises as a result of faulty insulin secretion or insulin action; a hormone responsible for maintaining blood glucose levels produced by the pancreas in the body.


When your body is unable to synthesise the right amount of insulin, blood glucose levels rise. Substantial progress can be achieved in attaining health and well-being even living with diabetes and for that reason, it is imperative to debunk certain myths when it comes to a diabetic diet. What to eat, in what proportions, and at what timings is the core towards a diabetic meal plate.


Myth #1: Diabetics should never eat sweets or desserts.


Indulging in a small piece of your favourite cake or dessert once in a while is alright when you are following a healthy meal plan for the rest of the week.


Myth #2: Diabetics cannot have carbs.


There is a common perception that consuming carbs will spike a rise in blood sugar. However, the type and portion of carbs matter. Go for complex carbs rather than sugary and refined ones.


Myth #3: Diabetics cannot have fruits.


Fruits do contain natural sugars but can be consumed in moderation. More notably they contain other essential nutrients and are rich in fiber.


Myth #4: Diabetics can eat whatever they like if they are on medication.


Consuming nutrient-rich food in balanced portions is the root principle to keep diabetes in check. Don’t go overboard as consuming additional drugs to compensate for your food intake may lead to developing complications.


Myth #5: Diabetics can substitute their carbs portion with protein.


ADA recommends 45 per cent of total daily dietary intake from carbs; therefore, swapping this figure with protein is a big no. If this protein has saturated fat, it can lead to cardiac complications.


Myth #6: Diabetics have to follow a special diet.


There is no fancy diet for diabetics. A balanced diet rich in all macro and micronutrients, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and unsweetened beverages which is similar to any other healthy diet. Consuming food timely is crucial to maintaining blood glucose levels.


Myth #7: Diabetic foods or diet foods are good for diabetes.


Highly processed foods or packaged foods are not good for anyone let alone diabetics. The labels might read sugar-free but may contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners.


Myth #8: Diabetics have to give up on their favourite foods.


It’s all about taming and transforming your eating habits more healthily. You can certainly quit hopping on savories, chocolates, and candies and limiting it to once a week.


Myth #9: Diabetics can have as many fats as they like.


Saturated fats and trans fats need to be kept off the limit as they tend to raise cholesterol levels and become a precursor for cardiovascular issues.


Myth #10: Eating large amounts of sugar causes diabetes.


Consuming a large amount of sugar can be a contributing factor however, genetic predisposition and distorted lifestyle factors are the principal factors leading to diabetes.


It should be noted that there is no standard set rule for a diabetic diet that can apply to everyone. It depends on an individual’s health status or any other associated medical condition and hence the eating plan varies from person to person and is best advised by a healthcare professional.


The chief goals are to maintain adequate blood sugar levels throughout the day, ideal body weight, prevent high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol as well as provide adequate nutrition.


Dr Nisma Haris


The writer is a general physician and wellness adviser


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