With March being National Nutrition month, we have asked Dr. Vijay Balakrishnan, a member of the Division of Endocrinology with Shore Physicians Group, to provide some information and dispel some myths related to Diabetes and Diet. Dr. Balakrishnan is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and completed his fellowship training in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. He treats a wide variety of conditions, including but not limited to:Type 1 & 2 diabetes, thyroid disorders, pituitary disorders, cholesterol disorders and adrenal disorders.
- Diabetes is not a serious disease – Diabetes can be called the silent killer. On average, it is believed that patients with diabetes have been having it for at least 5 years before it is first diagnosed. People with diabetes usually do not have any symptoms and this results in indifference. But poor diabetes control result in devastating complications in the long run. It doubles the risk of having a heart attack and is one of the most common causes of death.
- All diabetes patients must be overweight and all overweight people have diabetes – Obesity is a risk factor for developing diabetes. But there are other factors like family history, ethnicity and age. About 20% of patients with diabetes are normal weight, especially in people of south Asian descent. About 50% of obese patients do not develop diabetes.
- People with diabetes must eat diabetic foods, the so-called “Diet food” – A meal plan for people with diabetes is generally a healthy diet for anyone – low in refined sugar and saturated fat, with meals based on lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The entire family should be encouraged to follow the meal plan as it is healthy for everybody. “Diet foods” do not have any special nutritional benefit. In fact, most of them still raise the blood glucose levels. Specifically, diet cookies and diet ice cream do not exist. The sugar is being substituted with sweeteners, but still they are made with refined flour and cream which is plenty of carbohydrate.
- People with diabetes cannot eat sweets or chocolate – Limit sweets to a small portion and save it only on special occasions. They are no more off limits to people with diabetes than to people without diabetes.
- Fruits are healthy food and it is OK to eat as much as you like – Fruits are healthy with plenty of vitamins, anti-oxidants and fiber. But they also contain a lot of sugar. Limit yourself to 1-2 servings a day.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment:
Vijay Balakrishnan, MD, CCD
2605 Shore Road
Northfield, NJ 08225