5 Diet Myths for Diabetic Patients [DEBUNKED]
Uncover the truth behind the myths of food "approved" for people with diabetes.
Most Filipinos can’t live without rice, and are in love with durian, tropical fruit juices and the like. However, it is observed that they still struggle with poor blood sugar management when they come for clinic consultations. There are many myths surrounding the idea of an ideal diet for people with diabetes. Let’s explore these five common myths:
Durians contain fructose – a type of fruit sugar, similarly found in other fruits. A small durian seed’s worth of flesh contains 8g of carbohydrate which includes sugar (which takes up 6g). This means 2 small seeds of durians is equivalent to an average slice of papaya or a small apple. Do be mindful of the amount of durians consumed. If you plan to consume a few seeds, go easy on the intake of other carbohydrate-rich food sources. You could eat 2-3 seeds at a time, and if desired, another 2 seeds a few hours later. Some individuals do not mind taking 2 seeds at a sitting (equivalent to 1 serving of fruit), keep the balance in the fridge and savour them the next day. That’s a good method to ensure one eats in moderation!
Fruit juices contain natural sugars – fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars impact our blood sugar levels too. In fact, fruit juices can be concentrated and may contain high amounts of sugar. Do choose fresh fruits over fruit juice in cartons/bottles sold in supermarkets. Instead, take 2 servings of fruits a day as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Brown rice does contain slightly lesser starch compared to white rice, but the difference is minimal. Do choose brown rice as it is higher in fiber and Vitamin B complex. Its nutritional value and quality is also richer as compared to white rice. However, moderate intake is still advised as rice is still broken down into glucose.
Egg noodles contain the same amount of starch as rice in terms of volume. Rice noodles, on the other hand, do contain slightly lesser starch than rice when compared by volume. However, you might still be consuming equal amount or more starch depending on the type of meal.
For example, a plate of Pancit Canton contains higher starch compared to one (1) cup of rice and also contains little fiber (vegetables). Also, some of these noodle-meals are prepared with more oil and the cooking oil used is generally higher in saturated fat. This may contribute to a higher saturated fat intake.
Thus, a recommended method in managing one’s diet is to adopt the “Pinggang Pinoy” concept and to portion-manage each food group. Do choose whole grains (brown rice, whole grain noodles, buckwheat noodles etc.), lean meats and include plenty of vegetables in your meal.
You can live well with diabetes, eat a healthy balanced diet and still enjoy your favourite food occasionally! Eat that slice of cake, slice of bibingka, and other kakanins! But be mindful of the quantity and frequency. Honour your body and health by choosing foods that are nutritious. Constant dieting or restrictive eating would lead to deprivation and may have negative effects on your overall well-being. Ditch the ‘good food and bad food’ idea. Make peace with food by ensuring you maintain a healthy diet while allowing yourself to enjoy some of your favourite foods in moderation.
Ms Koh Pei Ling is a dietitian working with Diabetes team in Admiralty Medical Centre. She sees patients with Type 2 Diabetes for nutrition education and counselling; Type 1 Diabetes for carbohydrate counting and insulin titration; and patients for weight management. She is also involved in planning and running education programmes. Ms Pei Ling has special interest in counselling and therapy to help client identify their motivations and adopt healthy lifestyle and dietary habit in managing their health. She also runs nutrition-related programmes for community outreach.