Because it is time for diabetologists to take diet for what it is really worth

I went to a new diabetologist last week. Thanks to my recent accident and my state of mind that I don’t entirely remember meeting the doctor but I definitely do remember meeting the dietician. Somehow, she is not the first dietician I was meeting in a diabetes clinic, thanks to the ten long years that I have lived with diabetes and the number of clinics that I have visited in these ten years. But interestingly, her behaviour was one that was typical of any such clinic – ignorant! No I’m not being unduly judgmental. For a person who has visited sufficient number of these clinics, I’m in fact being liberal. But the way she questioned the patient (me) seemed absurd even to my accident hit head. The conversation between her and me was as follows:

“Please give your regular diet.”

Unfortunately for her, I’m someone who has been very aware of her condition and sugar levels. It might be hard to believe but there are people like me who do their research work on their health condition. We actually exist for real. So I gave her a detailed account of my diet,

“Breakfast: oats + milk + fruit

11.00AM: green tea with a fruit

1PM: oats, dal/sambar and vegetable

3PM: green tea and another fruit

5PM: oats cookies

7PM: salad for a snack

9PM: oats, dal/curd and vegetable”

“You are eating too much oats. Too much oats will increase your sugar levels. May be you should include other grains.”

“Yes I have other grains like whole wheat, ragi and others for dinner.” I said it only to make her happy because her ignorance was only blissful to her. It annoyed me but I chose not to lose my cool.

What kind of oats to eat?

Please Google oats and you will find diabetes associated with it in most places. But the dieticians at these clinics are either not aware of this or they never want to talk about eating the right kind of oats. Quick cooking oats might not be good for all and I understand that it might add to quick release of glucose into the blood stream. However, all kinds of oats don’t have that effect.  For instance, steel  cut oats is supposed to be very good, a grain with complex carbohydrates causing slow and sustained release of glucose into the blood stream over a period of time. It does not cause instant release of blood glucose. But there is no emphasis on such things.

Lack of emphasis on diet & exercise

I’ve seen that the doctors largely focus on the drugs and far less on the diet, and exercise, definitely not as much as they should be. The standard instruction for exercise is usually 45minutes of walking, that’s it. Only Ayurvedic and alternative medical practitioners place high emphasis on diet and exercise for patience with diabetes.

Allopathic practitioners make it a part of their routine to first prescribe heavy dosage medicines and then put the patients through a routine of spending 5 minutes with the dieticians who will recite their learnt up lines about diet without rice, banana, potato/root vegetables and sugar along with the 45 minutes of walking everyday. There ends the emphasis on diet and exercise or lifestyle choices.


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What oats did to me?

Seriously there is so much more to diet for diabetes like for instance oats. You may ask me what proof I have. Well, I’m the living proof. I had been on the same medication for over one year and my levels were sky rocketing, HBA1C levels at 9. Yes I brought that down to 7  and fasting blood sugar to 83 and PPBS at 142 in just 2 months (December 2013 and January 2014) with only changes in exercise and diet. I had the same medicines I had been consuming for over a year. That was proof enough for me to know that it is not always about the drug you take. It is also about your lifestyle especially if you have Type II diabetes.

The need for doctors to emphasis more on lifestyle choices

I might sound old and irritated saying this but doctors in India are waaaaaaaaaaaay toooooooo used to prescribing medicines as opposed to letting the body heal on its own. Letting the body heal is more and more possible only if they start placing enough emphasis on lifestyle choices.

“Can you not always be so focused on increasing or decreasing my drug dosage? Can you also give me more explanations about what actually will cause the increase or decrease in my drug dosage? Diet and exercise for instance? We will not know about it unless qualified people like you all take the time to explain about our bodies which actually make us suffer. Being considerate to patients is part of your job description.”

Did you know that developing sufficient muscle mass in the body is of great relevance to people with diabetes? That’s for later but just so you know that just means that 45 minutes of walking everyday won’t  do for people with diabetes.


It’s not a Maggi 2min promise but it takes only 15mins.

I wish I had the time to make lunch everyday, you the whole deal with veggies, dal and roti/oats. No, but that never is the case. I never have the time. I wish I could eat Maggi which most people keep doing for convenience. I’m glad I’m forced to be on a diet. Maggi can be very unhealthy over time. So I need to give more than 2mins now that I have no Maggi. Let’s say I got 15mins. Let’s make lunch!

Being a person who is on medication for fluctuating sugar levels, I have been advised to eat about 6 small meals a day – Breakfast – snack – lunch – snack – snack – dinner. And following the right timing is lethal. But for some reason, the moment you realise that you need to be doing something extra or something different for meals, there is a certain lack of motivation. At least, I initially felt so when I had to start on a diet that too living alone. It sucks sometimes to cook for yourself when you live alone. Moving on, I can’t help but be on this diet. So I thought why not make my life easier. I started eating oats. I’ll discuss oats in detail over a period of time but for now, lets discuss what I plan on eating for lunch – OATS KHICHIDI – Tadaaaaa!!!

Fulfills my requirements:

  • Nutritious and wholesome meal – tick
  • easy to make just in 15mins  – tick
  • tastes yummy – tick

What do I need to make this fantastic dish here today:

Lets check my kitchen. I have got:

Onion – 1 should do

Carrot – 1 last piece in the fridge

Capsicum – 1/2 remaining after yesterday’s salad

Tomato – 1 should do

You can add any veggie you like. The veggies add the vitamins to your khichadi.

Oats (gives you your complex carbs) – 1 cup roasted to a mild brown in a frying pan

Moong dal (gives you protein) – 1/2 cup soaked in water

red chillies – 2 or 3 depending on how spicy you want it to be

mustard – 1 tsp

jeera – 1 tsp

asafoetida – 1 tsp

tumeric powder – 1tsp

curry leaves – a few

corriander to garnish

Oil – 2 tsps

salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. Chop up all the veggies separately
  2. Heat the cooker, add the oil. When the oil is hot enough, add mustard. After the mustard starts popping, add jeera, red chillies, tumeric powder, curry leaves and asafoetida.
  3. Now add the onions, fry till golden brown and add the tomatoes. Tip: Add the salt with the tomatoes and simmer the flame to let the tomato cook faster.
  4. When the tomato is cooked, add all the veggies, the dal and the roasted oats
  5. Add 4 cups of water and pressure cook this mix. Determine the number of whistles depending on your cooker. I pressure cook it for about 10 whistles.

15minutes and I’m good to go for lunch. Try it and tell me how it went for you. I’ve got something more exciting for my next post. Oats biryani! 😉

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