Diabetic. Symptoms. Manage.

Diabetes and You: Taking Charge of Your Diabetes

The word ‘diabetes’ is no longer a foreign term. Most people know at least one person who has been diagnosed with the condition. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the prevalence of diabetes among Malaysian adults is currently 16.6 percent1. As of 2015, a staggering 3.5 million or 17.5 percent of Malaysians aged 18 and above, have been diagnosed with the disease2.

Being diagnosed with diabetes can feel overwhelming. An important first step is to realise that you can live a happy and healthy life by empowering yourself with a clear understanding of the disease. This will support you in making informed and educated decisions regarding your lifestyle choices and allow you to manage diabetes with confidence.

Distinguishing fact from fiction and dispelling commonly held diabetes myths, will help you stay ahead.

The Four Diabetes Myths

Myth 1: Skipping Meals Helps to Control My Blood Sugar Level

This may sound logical, however skipping meals could cause an adverse effect and result in greater fluctuations in your blood sugar level3. A clinical trial found that people with diabetes who skipped breakfast experienced a 37 percent increase in their blood sugar level during their lunch hour as compared to days when they consumed breakfast3.

Don’t skip meals, spread your meals throughout the day and consider balancing your blood sugar level with a specially formulated complete nutritional solution with low glycaemic index3. 

Myth 2: Carbohydrate Counting is Not Important

False. Carbohydrates have an effect on your blood sugar level and are one of the core nutrients found in the food and drink we consume each day6. Carbohydrate counting is a meal planning method for managing your blood sugar level. 

Carb counting as it is often known, ensures you keep track of your daily carbohydrate intake and supports you in managing your blood sugar level more efficiently4. Your recommended daily carbohydrate intake depends on numerous factors, these include your level of daily physical activity and what, if any, medicines you take. Some people are active and can afford a higher carbohydrate intake, others must consume less to balance their blood sugar level.

Myth 3: Low-Carbohydrate Diets are Good for People with Diabetes

False. Low-carb diets tend to be higher in fat. Following a high-fat diet over a long period of time can be taxing on the heart. People with diabetes are already at risk of heart disease and this may exasperate the condition.

Carbohydrates are important sources of energy. Rather than avoiding carbohydrates, eat a selection of healthy carbs and in the right amount to help with diabetes management. Healthy carbs are carbohydrates that are rich in fibre and contain 100% whole grains.

Myth 4: Diabetics Can only Eat Bland Food

A person with diabetes need not forgo the foods they love nor live a life eating bland and flavourless food. Feel rest assured that you in most cases you are able to enjoy the food you love, just be conscious that like with most things in life, moderation is key5,8.

Ensure that your diet contains a variety of nutritious food sources while maintaining a low or reduced sugar intake8. Introduce a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and fibre in appropriate portions into your daily diet. If in doubt, seek advice from a healthcare professional to craft a personalised food plan.

Don’t forget, be creative and have fun by creating nutritious meals that are suitable for you and your family.

A Son’s Tale

Diabetes is a subject close to the heart of internationally renowned culinary expert Chef Wan.

“My late father was diagnosed with diabetes in his 40s,” remarks Chef Wan. “He led a carefree life, and was sadly not mindful of his eating habits and lifestyle choices. Despite my constant reminders, my father continued to enjoy his favourite local delicacies which often contained high levels of saturated fat and sugar.”

As a concerned son, Chef Wan had to think of creative ways to prepare meals for his father as he regularly enjoyed a tasty nasi briyani, mutton curry, or roti canai. This often meant finding ways to recreate his father’s favourite dishes with a healthy touch. 

“As the saying goes, old habits die hard. It was an uphill task ensuring my father ate a healthy nutritious meal. Yet, I found ways for him to still enjoy his meals by substituting traditional ingredients with fresh, wholesome vegetables, lean meat, and replacing cooking oil with a healthier option, such as canola oil which contains polyunsaturated fats. I also adopted healthier cooking methods such as baking, grilling and roasting, instead of deep fried frying which is typical in Malay food preparation.” Chef Wan added.

“The entire family went through a transformation as a result. But it didn’t happen overnight. In order to help our father stay the course and eat healthier meals, all family members had to do the same. This meant no more kuih-muih or desserts at the dinner table” said Chef Wan.

Chef Wan actively encouraged his father to walk, take up gardening and volunteer at the local mosque. “These forms of exercise ensured he broke a sweat whilst losing weight. When you have diabetes, it is important to keep moving, moving!” added Chef Wan.

“My dad lived to reach 78 before passing away due to a stroke. I firmly believe that family support was key to helping him take back control of his life and live with diabetes.”

Chef Wan’s personal experience is one of the key reasons he is so passionate about improving the lives of Malaysians by educating them on the benefits of healthy eating, combating obesity and leading a healthy lifestyle to manage and prevent diabetes.

“Life is beautiful, love yourself” believes Chef Wan.

Through Thick and Thin

‘Love overcomes all obstacles’. The loving relationship between Shamsiah Bt Haji Jamaludin and her husband is the perfect illustration.

Shamsiah is a caregiver to her 75-year-old husband who has been living with diabetes for the past 20 years. “I took my husband for a medical check one day because he was complaining about feeling lethargic. It was during this examination we found that he had diabetes,” recalled Shamsiah.  

“Since that day, I paid careful attention to his diet. Despite this, there were days when he would still feel tired due to a spike in his blood sugar level. However, since introducing NUTREN® Untuk DIABETIK, a complete and balanced diabetes formulation, as part of his diet, those days are a distant memory."

The couple, who will be soon celebrating their 50th golden anniversary choose to stay active together by taking evening strolls on the beach. “Due to my husband’s advancing age, we take our time and enjoy a leisurely stroll each day.  Exercise is crucial if you are living with diabetes,” said Shamsiah.

“My husband never paid attention to his health when he was a young man. He took his health for granted. I always remind my children when they come visit, to eat healthily, or otherwise they may end up like their father,” Shamsiah joked.

Take Control

Diabetes does not discriminate it can affect anyone, at any time. The good news is, diabetes is something that you can manage. The change, starts with you. Act today for tomorrow.

This article is brought to you by NUTREN® Untuk DIABETIK, a clinically proven complete and balanced nutritious beverage for people with diabetes. Formulated in accordance to International Diabetes Guidelines, NUTREN® Untuk DIABETIK contains a unique fibre blend and vitamins and minerals to help you stay in control and energised for the day. NUTREN® Untuk DIABETIK, Together We Take Charge.


[1] Malaysia (n.d.). In International Diabetes Federation. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from http://www.idf.org/membership/wp/malaysia

[2] National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015- Non Communicable Diseases, Risk  Factors & other Health Problems Volume II, pg 14

[3] Gordon, S. (n.d.). Skipping Breakfast Bad Idea for Type 2 Diabetics. In WebMD. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20150807/skipping-breakfast-a-bad-idea-for-people-with-type-2-diabetes

[4] Carbohydrate Counting and Diabetes (n.d.). In National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-diet-eating/carbohydrate-counting

[5] Diabetic Food: Debunking Myths (n.d.). In BistroMD. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from http://www.bistromd.com/articles/diabetic-food-debunking-myths

[6] Guide to HbA1c (n.d.). In Diabetes.Co.UK. Retrieved October 7, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.co.uk/what-is-hba1c.html



Diabetes, Diagnose Diabetes, diabetes management, diabetes myth, high blood sugar, blood sugar, blood sugar levels, skipping meals, breakfast, low glycemic index, carbohydrate, carbohydrate counting, heart disease, healthy carbs, whole grains, high fat diet, moderation, nutren diabetik

About The Author
Chua Chong Jie
Nestlé Health Science, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestlé, is a health-science company engaged in advancing the role of nutritional therapy to change the course of health for consumers, patients and our partners in healthcare.Through investing in innovation and leveraging leading edge science, we bring forward innovative nutritional therapies with proven clinical, health economic value and quality of life benefits.

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