Opinion and Editorial

How sweet will this Diwali be for those with diabetes?

A Sreenivasa Reddy
Filed on November 14, 2020 | Last updated on November 14, 2020 at 09.50 am

(PhotosIndia.com LLC / Alamy Stock Photo)

For long I thought I will live the way I have been doing with least health worries. But my epicurean ways caught up with me and now I am embracing my post-diabetic life with fortitude.

It’s Diwali today. And this time, the festival of lights and sweets coincides with World Diabetes Day. These two days come and go every year without having any significance for me. But this year these events assume a deep and poignant meaning after I was officially certified as a diabetic.

Diabetes Day this time is an opportunity for me to introspect on how I should reshape my lifestyle and habits to keep my sugar levels in check. But Diwali poses very difficult problems as I cannot let this festival pass without indulging my sweet tooth. This Hindu festival brings out the best and worst of Indian sweets. The infinite variety and the dazzling, colourful displays at Indian store fronts seduce us whether we like sweet things or not.

Abu Shagara, the downmarket place in Sharjah where I live, plays host to a variety of Indian restaurants who shut down their normal operations to showcase their Diwali sweet offerings. Every year I make rounds of these places where I look at the neatly made sugar treats with all the love and lust. After my voyeuristic pleasure is satiated, I end up buying a small box or two of assorted varieties at one of the shops so that I can get a bite of all things that I devoured with my eyes.

But this annual ritual is in serious trouble in my post-diabetic life. Though the trips to sweet shops in themselves are harmless, it can end up ruining my day if I fall for the temptation of biting into one or two sugary bombs. Yes, the situation is that serious. Doctors so far have not been able to get the right mix of drugs to keep my sugar levels low. Though I am diagnosed with the beginner level of diabetes, I have not been able to get the drugs right. Slightest indiscretion can land me in trouble. I am still working with my doctor to see how best I can fix this.

For long I thought I will live the way I have been doing with least health worries. But my epicurean ways caught up with me and now I am embracing my post-diabetic life with fortitude. I take inspiration from my colleagues whose diabetes did not affect their zest for life.

Can there be a reversal from diabetes? This is the question that nagged me ever since I was diagnosed with the condition. The received wisdom is that once you are a diabetic, you are a diabetic forever. But I recently came across two contradictory approaches which claim a complete cure to a disease that affects over 450 million people.

One of the approaches is keto diet. It seeks to starve body of carbs and serve it only fat in moderate quantities. The body learns to break fat into glucose, thereby triggering a process known as ketogenesis. If the diet plan is followed over a certain reasonable period of time, the body is expected to shed a lot of fat, resulting in curing of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The diet based on this approach is popularised in Andhra Pradesh, India, by one Veeramachineni Ramakrishna, an accountant by profession. He prescribes lemon juice, boiled vegetables and meats cooked in coconut or ghee or olive oil. There were plenty of reports about this diet working to reduce weight, blood pressure and diabetes. But some doctors sounded caution on this extreme diet plan, which makes very ambitious claims and seeks to be a cure to all diseases. This accountant-turned-health adviser became a cult figure with his magic diet fix for ailments.

Another approach is vegan diet. Advocates of this approach tout that plant-based diets can change the trajectory of the disease in people. Netflix documentary — What The Health — graphically shows deleterious effects of processed meats on the health of people. Processed animal meats are blamed for heart attacks, cancers and diabetes. The experts cited on the show passionately argue for a shift to plant-based diet so that we can lead better lives and cure ourselves of chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Both the approaches believe modern medicine is a conspiracy and multi-billion dollar scam. I am not so sure if any of these approaches can help me overcome my health predicament. I am one of nearly half a billion people who confront these choices. Let this diabetes day and Diwali shine some light on the bitter, sour truths of the sweet disease.

— sreenivasa@khaleejtimes.com

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