Our philosophy is “What you focus on expands”. Hence, we focus on health. If we focus on creating health, rather than just treating disease, the disease often takes care of itself. Disease reversal is a side effect of getting healthy.
We, at Possible (earlier Truweight) have worked for years to develop the right nutrition advice for diabetics. Thousands of diabetics have benefited from our program over the last few years. We don’t compete with doctors, but support them by offering the right nutrition advice. Our approach is not extreme but something which is sustainable for you to follow all your life. Let’s look at our top 7 principles for a diabetic diet.
1. Don’t count calories, Count Nutrients
Which food has more calories? A medium sized Apple or 200 ml bottle of Cola? This is a shocking fact for 99% of people. Apple has 40% more calories than cola! But that doesn’t make cola any healthier, right?
Dr. Assem Malhotra, known as one of the most influential cardiologists in Britain says, “We need to stop counting calories and concentrate on good nutrition.” Diet typically means less food and starvation. But that’s the wrong way to eat healthy. If you want to just lose weight, without improving your health, then there are easier ways.
“It’s all about calculating calories” is one of the biggest lies that the diet and food industry has told you for weight loss.
The calorie calculator assumes whether you consume 100 calories of sugar or 100 calories of fibre, it will have the same effect on your body! It is the most absurd thing ever heard. Most of the calories in fibre do not even get absorbed by your body. It just acts as a sponge and passes out of your body along with the stool.
Show a kid 100 calories of broccoli and 100 calories of ice-cream and ask him which of the food will make him fatter. Even a kid will answer this question rightly, but unfortunately, a lot of experts are propagating the wrong information.
Food does not just have fat, carbs or calories. Food is much more than that. Food is the source of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phyto-chemicals as well. If you eat less food, you also eat less of all the good things. Let’s accept the fact that we cannot survive without food. Food is our lifeline and let’s stop demonising it.
There are certain foods which have very high nutrient density (amount of nutrients per calorie of food). These foods are extremely crucial for not just weight loss, but for gaining health. Right nutrients help your body in effective functioning and in improving efficiency of insulin. We call these foods as Super Foods. Oxford dictionary defines Super Foods as “A nutrient rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well being.”
We have identified a lot of Super Foods which are especially beneficial in diabetes, e.g. high fibre products, methi, cinnamon, seeds like chia seeds, hibiscus tea, greens like spirulina, wheatgrass, herbs like gymnema, mulberry leaf extract, etc. We have made a lot of products combining these super foods to make your life easier. Diet is not just about macronutrients. Micro-nutrients are more important. So, stop counting calories. Start counting nutrients.
2. Attack 7 Root Causes of Metabolic Syndrome
You’ll be surprised to know that there are seven basic causes of metabolic syndrome diseases like diabetes, each one as important as the other. Some of them are internal inflammation, toxicity, nutritional imbalance, hormonal imbalance, gut bacteria, stress, etc. One needs to attack all causes to tackle diabetes. Let’s look at some of them.
You already know the importance of hormones in diabetes. Especially insulin. But do you know, there is a twin brother of insulin called glucagon, which also has a very big role in diabetes management. It infact does the opposite of what insulin does. Glucagon is also produced in pancreas, and it’s role is to increase blood sugar in blood by converting glycogen in the liver to glucose in blood. Insulin decreases blood sugar, glucagon increases it. In a diabetic patient, there may be more glucagon leading to excess sugar in blood. It’s important to know that there are multiple hormones which determine our health like GLP 1, GIP, amylin.
Diseases like diabetes happen when these hormones are not in balance. Good news is that with the right food and lifestyle, you can control these hormones. Our entire program is designed towards getting your hormones back in control.
Another root cause is internal inflammation, which is neither painful nor visible, but it’s extremely deadly. It is a fire that is kept hidden by the body‘s immune system as it combats food allergens, toxins, stress and bad food.
Even though this inflammation is harmful, we sadly don’t have any antiseptic that can cure it. Internal inflammation occurs due to refined carbs, sugar, trans fats and many inflammatory Omega-6 fats, artificial sweeteners, gluten, dairy, chronic infection, stress, processed plant oils, hidden food allergies and sensitivities, etc. It is important to improve your internal inflammation to manage diabetes better.
All of us know what antibiotics are, but how many of us know about their counterparts called ‘probiotics’? These are microorganisms like yeast or good bacteria that are known to enhance one’s health. It may seem strange to take in live bacteria as part of your food, but it is a normal practice and is very good for you.
The ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your stomach is usually 85% : 15%. When you maintain this ratio, you’re in good health. Some foods that have good probiotics are curd, idli, dosa, pickles.
3. Not Low Carb, but Slow Carb
Insulin resistance, the root cause of Type 2 Diabetes, basically means the body is intolerant to carbs. Some would suggest completely eliminating carbs from the diet. But we are against taking such extreme measures. Removing carbs also eliminates a lot of good things (like minerals, vitamins). Not all carbs are equal, and not all carbs are bad. Carbs from white rice are bad, and so is maida. Both would spike your blood sugar levels. But there are a lot of healthy carbs like those present in foxtail millet, which does not have the same impact on your sugar levels. Plus they are full of nutrients.
Though low carb diets are in vogue, we would not suggest completely eliminating such an integral part of the diet. Most of such diets do not allow any grains, fruits, dal and legumes. This is practically impossible to follow in the long term for almost everybody. We believe as long as you eat healthy carbs and do it in moderation, you are eating well and becoming healthy.
There is a saying “don’t throw the baby with bath water”. Which means don’t discard good things to avoid something undesirable. Don’t throw away all micronutrients just to put less carbs in your body.
So, instead of a low or no carb diet, we recommend a slow carb diet. A diet which releases sugar slowly in your body. So, it consists of more complex carbs instead of simple carbs. Good examples of complex carbs are millets, brown rice, peas, beans, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. We can’t imagine a life without these healthful food items.
4. Fats can be healthy Too!
Fat has been made a villain for the last 30-40 years. But the problems of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have skyrocketed like anything despite low consumption of fat. Now, some people are advising to have a lot of fats e.g. put 50 g of butter in a cup of coffee (seriously, this is the latest rage). We believe in taking the middle path and not going for any fad.
Our body is not a guinea pig. We should not experiment with our bodies with such an extreme diet. Having a balanced approach makes life easy. Have fat in moderation and consume healthy fats. We strongly advocate fat from seeds, nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil. Fat is not only tasty, it also keeps you full for a longer duration. Moreover, fat’s impact on insulin production is almost negligible, hence, it becomes even better for diabetes.
5. How much protein to consume?
Protein is the third macronutrient apart from fat and carb. Protein’s impact on blood glucose levels is much lower than that of carbs. Also, an increase in blood glucose happens gradually.
Carbs: Almost 90-100% is converted to glucose. And it peaks in just 1-2 hours.
Fat: Only 10% converts to glucose. And it takes 8-10 hours.
Proteins: Around 50% converts to glucose. And it takes 2-4 hours.
So, it’s very clear that it’s important to reduce unhealthy carbs, add healthy fats and increase protein consumption to manage your blood sugar levels better.
Indians typically consume much less protein than we should be consuming. A typical Indian diet consists of around 25-40 gms of protein, whereas the ideal quantity is more than double of that. More protein in diet would also typically mean lesser carbs. It’s super important in a diabetic diet chart. Exact amount of protein that you should be consuming is dependent on your activity levels, age, etc. But as a ballpark figure, for a moderate activity level like 30 minutes of walk, we would recommend 0.8 gm – 1.2gms of protein per kg of body weight. It’s not that easy to achieve this number, hence we have made multiple products wherein we add extra protein to help you reach your goal.
6. Eat as Per Nature’s Manual
Whenever we buy a TV or a mobile, it always comes with a manual. How come humans which are far more sophisticated than any gadget come without a manual? How come a baby comes out from a mother’s womb without a manual in hand? If we had a manual on how to take care of our body, wouldn’t it be wonderful? There would be no confusion on which food to have and which to avoid? Is meat good? Whether milk is good? Unfortunately, we humans have made a mess of it. We have been researching for 12+ years on nutrition, and it is amazing to see how the experts are as clueless as everyone else. Experts can’t even agree on even basic things like meat, dairy, etc.
Then what do we do? Whom do we believe? Good news is that all animals including humans come with a manual. An amazing manual. Wondering where it is. It’s inbuilt. Inside you. It’s in your gut, in your DNA. In your teeth, in your intestine. In fact in every part of the body.
Let’s take non-veg for example. When you see a cat, what kind of feeling do you get? Do you feel like eating it or do you feel love for the cat? If a dog sees a cat, what kind of feeling does it get? It definitely wants to eat it. Can there be a clearer manual than this? Look at the teeth of a carnivore. And look at our teeth. How on earth are we supposed to kill another animal with such a kind of teeth?
- Let’s look at our intestines. Humans’ intestinal tracts are much longer than those of carnivores of comparable size. A carnivore intestine is relatively shorter as animal flesh decays fast, hence it needs to pass out of the system quickly. Herbivores have longer intestines, which permit the body more time to absorb the nutrients from plant-based foods, but they make it suboptimal for humans to eat meat.
- Let’s look at our senses. Have you ever bought a beef fragrance perfume? Or a chicken perfume? Why not? Why do we get attracted to natural perfumes like jasmine, rose?
- When a carnivore animal eats another animal, it eats every part of their body. Eg. When a cat eats a mouse, it eats 100% of it. From skin to bones. Without cooking. Why do we have to cook it, remove skin and bones, add a lot of flavours to mask the taste and then eat it.
You might still not be convinced. Look at our cousin. Monkeys. They have 99% common DNA with us. Do they eat non-veg? I hope you get the answer. Nature has given us a manual.
However, it’s a difficult decision for a non-vegetarian to give up non-vegetarianism. And we understand that. We also understand that our genes would have also undergone changes in the last thousands of years. Hence, we do not expect you to completely give up your non-veg. Somebody said “I read that non-veg is bad for health. I stopped reading.” We do not want you to stop reading. We also realise that the world is not black and white. There are not just two options: either have a lot of non-veg or don’t have any. There is always a middle ground. So, we would recommend you to have a balanced approach towards non-veg. Eat it in moderation. And it does not just apply to non-veg. It applies to apples also. E.g. an apple a day is good. But not 10 apples a day.
I see a lot of my veg friends feeling happy at the plight of non-veg friends. But don’t be too happy. Because the next topic is your favourite: dairy. Is dairy good or bad? You will find tons of research papers for both sides. What do you do? Again let’s look at nature’s manual.
- Does any animal drink other animal’s milk? Answer is no.
- If humans are supposed to have milk all our lives, then why does nature stop producing milk in our mother’s body after some time? This is nature’s way of telling us when to stop.
- Are we recommending you to stop drinking milk? We are not. I know it’s difficult to imagine life without curd, ice-cream, panneer etc. But is it possible to limit its consumption and consume it in moderation?
7. Focus on Addition
When it comes to eating healthy, the biggest problem is that people lose motivation in just a couple of weeks, if not a couple of days. When you think of dieting, what comes to your mind: adding food or deleting food? If you are like 99% of people, then you would associate diet with deleting food and eating less. And that’s the reason diets fail.
Let me throw a challenge to you. Is this glass empty? No, it is not. It’s filled with air. Now, the challenge is to take out air from it. How will you do it? Can you blow air out of it? Can you scoop out air? Obviously not. There is a simple solution. Fill it with something else, like water. Air automatically comes out. If you focus on deleting, you fail, if you focus on adding, you succeed.
Similarly, focus on adding good foods to your diet, bad foods will automatically go away. But if you focus on deleting foods, you will feel that you are sacrificing something and also you feel deprived. Top 3 foods I would recommend you to add today are : Salads, Sprouts and Soaked nuts like almonds and walnuts.
The 7 pillars of beating Diabetes are Counting Nutrients, Attacking metabolic Syndrome, Having more slow carbs, Healthy Fats, Protein consumption, eating as per nature’s Manual and the Focus on addition. These topics are interlinked in a multitude of ways. The single most important link is its ability to fight diabetes. While they may seem tough, years of bad diet can be beaten only with a good diet.