This blog is going to be an attempt to make us look at diets in a lighter vein. Take your diet seriously but don’t take your self seriously. I get worried when people my age take diets too seriously! But this applies to all age groups. Please do not take this blog seriously, I want people to enjoy their diet!
I am a normal human being who is handling diabetes for the last seven years. I know what diabetes is but here is my disclaimer. My knowledge about Medicine is zero so what I write is based on the internet and social media (which I take with a pinch oh sorry, a fistful of salt) and interaction with others including medical experts. After this brief background of what I think I know, I am going to write about the confusion that is created in my mind with diverse and conflicting information about diabetes.
Ok, let me clarify that the word DIETese is not a spelling error. I feel that DIET is a “sickness” that has recently cropped up and it is spreading as much as diabetes; hence the word DIETese.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects how our body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in our bodies.
Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent than type 1. Hence I will write about type 2.
The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. It’s what lets your cells turn glucose from the food you eat, into energy. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their cells don’t use it as well as they should. Doctors call this insulin resistance.
At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to try to get glucose into the cells. But eventually it can’t keep up, and the sugar builds up in your blood instead.
Some of the reasons for diabetes are
- Extra Weight
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Too much glucose from the liver
- Bad Communication between cells
- Broken Beta Cells
Is diabetes reversible?
All the literature available says that diabetes is manageable but not reversible. I know someone who has managed diabetes for more than forty years. Through diet changes, excercise, weight loss and by taking medicines under doctors advise, people are managing diabetes. The drugs that are given are not able to reverse the body condition that causes diabetes. The literature says that very early detection and enough weight reduction can partially repair some of the damaged cells. In that sense, diabetes is partially reversible. But in most cases, since the symptoms are not severe in the initial phase, detection is delayed. Hence chances of cell damage reversal are less.
Following are different methods of controlling diabetes
- Taking medicine
- Diet control and reducing carbohydrates from food
- Snacking- eating at short intervals of two to four hours
- Calorie control
- And many more
I am now going to discuss mainly about diets. I have heard of Tripathi diet, Divekar diet, Bose diet and the latest is Dixit diet. Each one of them has different thinking and ways of managing things. At least I have not heard of Divekar and Bose diets talking about diabetes control; they speak mainly of weight reduction and control. These diets talk about snacking and suggest eating the food that we usually do. Eating more carbs is harmful anyway, both these diets recommend a reduction of carbs from our food. Tripathi diet suggests a diet which is different than what we typically eat. Dixit diet talks of having only two meals a day, but eating regular food.
When I read about these diets, a few questions cropped in my mind. How long should we follow the dieting regime? Should we eat foods during this phase which we usually don’t eat? In Tripathi diet, I understand that eating Jowar, and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) has been suggested. In India, people from different states and areas eat different types of food. In northern India, people eat Wheat and Cornbread. They eat rice only on special occasions. In southern India, people eat foods based on rice. They rarely eat roti or any bread. Jowar and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) is consumed in certain parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. How can people from North and South adjust to this diet? How long can they eat Bhakri? How long should such diets be continued?
That brings me to the method of testing for diabetes. The first method is fasting sugar and Post Prandial sugar. This combination gives some indication of blood sugar at that particular instant. The second method is HbA1c value; HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration. This value is the average of the previous three months. To a layman like me, the first method is a photograph taken at that instant and the second method is like a video made for the previous three months. To give you an example fasting & pp values were 105/160 on that day but HbA1c value was 7.0! These values don’t confuse me anymore.
I have read Dr Dixit’s speeches where he starts with a comment that his diet is for people with obesity issues. I will share with you his quote from the Times of India. “Giving information about a diet plan that is helpful in an effective weight loss program and prevention of diabetes, Dixit said that his regime is not for the individuals below 18 years of age, and the people who are already suffering from diabetes.”
My confusion starts here. A lot of people who are already diabetic sing paeans of the Dixit diet whereas Dr Dixit is saying that it is not meant for people who are already diabetic. For weight reduction eating two meals a day is an obvious solution. (I am talking of non-diabetic people) If you have only two meals, how much can you eat at a time? By accepting this, diet does not let you eat food at will. If this is Dixit diet for weight reduction, then you don’t need a diet. The simple rule is that if you feast on food all the time and don’t exercise your weight is going to increase.
A lady weighing 90 kgs, went to her doctor and said, “Please help me reduce weight.” On asking what she ate on that day, she said, “I had sweet tea in the morning with a few cream biscuits, had breakfast of potato hash brown and eggs. My husband comes late, so I had a fistful of salted peanuts. He got delayed, so I had two pieces of Mithai before a late lunch.” The doctor said, “Madam you had two full meals before lunch.”
My second confusion. My understanding of sugar values is that when we eat food, the sugar goes up and then starts reducing. In Dixit diet (which is not for diabetic people as per Dr Dixit) after every meal you do not eat anything for eight hours. The gap reduces sugar level in the body, and your body is going towards hypoglycemia. You remain in hypoglycemic condition for the majority of the time. What is the result? As you are hypoglycemic most of the times, your HbA1c value is going to reduce. Can anyone continue such diet life long? I don’t think so. To me, HbA1c value reduction due to “Dixit Diet” is a false indication. Once you start your food at regular intervals, your correct values will get reflected.
I have a suggestion for people on Dixit diet. They should wear saffron and live in the Himalayas. You call them, “Hey, let’s have coffee at ten at Vaishali.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet!” Next week you call again and say, “Buddy Dilip is the town we are meeting at five for some Chat and Bhel.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet.” How many times are you going utter this sentence? Are you stopping socialising because of your diet? How long do you want to continue? Don’t forget that you can get out of circulation fast. Your friends will have fun discussing your diet. My question is what happens if you take a couple of tablets a day, maintain discipline? Don’t forget that beyond a certain point your tongue becomes very active and demands food which you have been eating for 40/50/70 years. Wear stylish clothes and eat your bhajiya occasionally; don’t take me seriously about saffron. A minor binge is not a crime, don’t keep on thinking only about your diet!
Some of the effects I have observed on people who are on diets (this is my definition of DIETese)
- People having diabetes (and on diet) keep checking sugar values very frequently
- I knew someone who would check values three to four times a day and change his medicine dose on his own
- Keep checking their weight every day
- Decline to attend programs where some eatables may be served
- On one on one level, they say that they are always anxious
- They get hunger pangs if they keep long gaps between two meals
- Some suffer from acidity
- Others get migraine
A friend started Dixit diet and declared that his HbA1c value reduced from 8.5 to 7.5 in three months. He was in the US with his daughter and used to eat three ice creams every day. He stopped eating that and ….
Diabetes is manageable DIETese is not!