5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet
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I know life is extra harsh on you. No sugar, limited rice, no potato…. life is tasteless. Fear of being caught chases you when the plan to eat sweet midnight. You started hating Diwali. And why not? There is no light if you can’t even enjoy Diwali laddu? It’s dark & gloomy everywhere. Having diabetes is nothing less than a punishment especially if you are a foodie. You are under diet restriction, regular medication to somehow manage to keep your blood sugar under control. But are you making a meaningful sacrifice? I have seen many diabetic patients make 5 common mistakes in diabetes diet. Are you doing the same? Let’s see.

5 common mistakes you may have been doing following diabetes diet –  

Common mistake in diabetes diet 1. No sugar, only Marie/cream cracker biscuits, please

5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet- biscuits or sugar, what to choose?

Are you doing this? Well, you may have to think twice now.

The fact is diabetes diet is all about controlling simple carbs and replacing them with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs take time to get digested helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

If you are sacrificing a tsp of sugar in tea and having even 2 “healthy sugar-free” biscuits, you are making the worst choice. Confused? Check the table below –

Your favorite (1 biscuit) Energy (Kcal) Total Carbohydrate (g) Among carbohydrates total  sugar content (g) Major ingredients
Marie 25.06 4.30 1.22 Refined flour, refined vegetable oil, sugar
Cream cracker sugar free 33.07 5.14 0.00 Refined flour, refined vegetable oil,
Nutri choice digestive marie 41.08 5.67 1.21 Refined flour, refined vegetable oil, sugar
Nutri choice sugar free 41.42 5.75 0.00 Refined flour, refined vegetable oil,
Sugar (1 tsp) 20 5 5 Sugar

 Biscuits, no matter how healthy they are, contain more calories than a tsp of sugar. Refined flour, refined oil, and refined sugar are the 3 main ingredients used to make any biscuits.

I know many diabetic patients who refuse to take sugar in tea but have 4 “healthy” biscuits. This actually provides 3 times more sugar and 5 times more calorie at the end of their tea course. Surprised? Follow the table above and do the math. By the way are you one of them?

What to do?

If you can’t control your sugar craving, take a tsp of sugar in tea but avoid biscuits at all costs.

Once habituated to take tea with a tsp of sugar without any biscuits, reduce the sugar to a half teaspoon. It won’t hurt you, trust me. But yes, you can’t end up having 5 -8 cups of tea/coffee a day. Limit it to 2 times only.

Common mistake in diabetes diet 2.No sugar for me, I have sugar-free

5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet- why not artificial sweetener?

Are you trying to bring back sweetness with artificial sweeteners? If yes, then you must read this carefully.

Artificial sweeteners are chemicals that provide no or, nominal calories but are 400-700 times sweeter than sugar. It has become a savior for many diabetic patients.

There are multiple studies that have raised a question on its safety for human consumption. Be it saccharine, cyclamate or aspartame, or recently popular sucralose – these sweeteners are always under scrutiny. FDA has already banned saccharine and cyclamate for their harmful effects on the human body. (2,3) Now the controversy is on with the safety of aspartame and sucralose. (1) There are studies going on to find the impact.

Ever wondered why “sugar-free” or “diet” products are sweet? They all have aspartame. Just check the ingredient list.

Why not aspartame or sucralose or any artificial sweetener?

Apart from the debatable safety issue, there is 3 basic reason to avoid these artificial sweeteners as much as possible.

1. I have seen diabetic patients going completely crazy with these sweeteners. They use these products in tea/ coffee, in regular cooking, making cookies, cakes, sweets, and whatnot. You must know that sucralose is not safe to use in cooking. There are studies that show that at high-temperature sucralose breaks down and form a harmful chemical called chloropropanol, which may raise the risk of cancer. (4)

2. When one makes food using artificial sweeteners, generally he goes guilt-free and may eat way more than usual just because there is no added sugar in that preparation.

You must understand that the principle of a diabetic diet is to keep the blood sugar level under control all the time. Excess food means mostly excess carbs – a few extra pieces of cake, cookie, and sweet right? Therefore the entire point of using artificial sweeteners is lost.

If this is the case, you should start using sugar-replacing sweeteners to keep a check on your overall consumption. I can guarantee you will end up consuming 3 times fewer calories and carbohydrates than you had while using sweetener.

3. Artificial sweeteners are addictive. It pushes you to crave more sweets which ultimately makes you gain weight and disturbs other blood parameters.

5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet - sare you taking sugar free?

What to do?

Sugar is good but worst when used in excess not only for you but for everybody. But artificial sweetener is also no good. Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible. You can have 2 tsp of sugar a day provided you are following a balanced diet. Avoiding sugar is all about your practice. Consider this as a rehabilitation phase to quit sugar. Yes, it will be difficult for the first month like any other addiction but trust me you will be fine from the second month.

Common mistake in diabetes diet 3. I don’t eat a sugary snack, is there anything salty?

In order to avoid sweets, many diabetic patients are inclined to salty food. They believe they can eat anything and everything which is salty.

Again one must remember at the end of the day you must check your total carbohydrate intake – in terms of quantity as well as on quality.

Most of your favorite salty snacks are processed, loaded with refined flour (a simple carbohydrate) and sodium. These simple carbohydrates get digested easily and shoot your blood glucose level immediately. On the other hand, excess sodium increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Let’s check what is there in your favorite salty snacks –

Your favourites (in 30 g – approx  handful) Energy (Kcal) Carbohydrate(g) Sodium (mg)
Haldiram’s Indian Snacks mixture 160.2 13.533 202.5
Haldiram’s Aloo bhaja 168.6 13.83 184.5
Haldiram’s Panchratan mixture 157.8 15.783 144
Lays magic masala 166.5 15.36 244.5
Kurkure masala munch 167.4 16.56 267.6
Haldiram’s Bhakarwadi 161.4 14.967 130.2
Maggi 128.1 19.05 351.6
Top ramon 138.6 19.38 Not mentionned
Pazzala cheese macaroni 105.3 20.49 404.34
Masala pasta 108.6 22.662 840
Sweet corn soup 102.9 22.59 1257
Knor soup 120.6 25.8 1815
Keya hot & sour soup 94.2 19.455 1272
5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet- are you taking packaged food?

What to do?

If you notice carefully, you probably go wrong during snack time. Therefore plan your snack well ahead and eat when you are a little hungry. People often make an unhealthy choice out of extreme hunger.

You may think of having –

Common mistake in diabetes diet 4.No rice or potato for me – only roti, please!

You are diabetic don’t act like a rice-phobic. You need carbohydrates like any others. There are multiple factors that make food good or bad for diabetes. The carbohydrate content, fiber content, glycemic index, glycemic load, soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and moreover the food combination makes a huge difference in terms of food choice.

Mixing roti or rice or any cereal with pulses (dal), vegetables, etc lowers the glycemic index & glycemic load and makes it favorable for the patient. 

Add vegetables to each meal and choose the non-refined version of the cereal. But yes, quantity matters a lot. Therefore you may enjoy rice, roti, millets, potato or any other high carbohydrate-rich food in moderation provided the combination is right.

5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet -rice is bad but packaged noodles are okay?

The table below will give you an idea of the nutritive value of a few carbohydrates-rich foods –The glycemic index mentioned in the table is for that food alone. However, it varies with different food combinations.

Food stuffs Energy (Kcal) Carbohydrate (g) Total Dietary fiber (g) Soluble fibre (g) Insoluble fiber (g) Glycemic Index
Rice (raw, milled) 345 78.2 4.1 0.9 3.2 72 (boiled white rice)
Refined flour (maida) 348 73.9 Negligible 75 (white bread)
Refine whole wheat (atta) 341 69.4 2.5 2.9 9.6 62 (wheat roti)
Jowar 349 72.6 9.6 1.7 8.0 71
Bajra 361 67.5 11.3 2.2 9.1 71
Ragi 328 72.0 11.5 1.6 9.9 71
Potato 97 22.6 1.7 0.6 1.1 75
Yam (ordinary) 111 26.0 4.2 1.0 3.2 51
Sweet potato 120 28.2 3.9 1.3 2.6 48

Common mistake in diabetes diet 5. I drink neem water/ bitter gourd juice every morning

You must have been recommended to drink bitter juice/food for controlling your blood sugar level. Right?

Are you starting your day with methi water or neem water or with bitter gourd juice? No problem. But don’t keep high hope on those preparations. No, I am not keeping any doubt on their potential to fix diabetes. These bitter foods have properties to control your blood sugar. I am worried about your diet for the rest of the day.

5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet- are you takingneem water

People often start the day with a bitter juice and then have tea with biscuits, puff at snack, bhujiya with evening tea, and maybe sweet after dinner made with artificial sweetener.

It’s NOT fair to have anything in a day and keep the blame on bitter juice for underperformance rather starts practicing mindful eating.


Stop making these 5 common mistakes in your diabetes diet. Don’t think of living with diabetes for the rest of your life. Focus on reversing diabetes. Adopt a mindful, sustainable diabetes diet. It is only possible with changing your sedentary, stressed lifestyle. Stay active throughout the day. Do exercise that you enjoy. Sleep well. Manage stress and cut down all the processed and packaged food addiction. Never keep a doubt eating natural food even if it is sweet. But remember moderation is the key.

That’s the only way to live happy healthy and reverse your diabetes.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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