I partly wanted to attend to see where Diabetes Qld are up to in relation to actually preventing or treating diabetes, and perhaps spare some of the attendees from the one-sided propaganda which they give. I found that Diabetes Qld are still stuck in 1960s nutrition science, and luckily there were not many attendees who needed saving.
Three of the 7 in total attendees were pharmacists, two dietitians of limited experience, and two rebels - myself and a low-carb advocate blogger friend who went along for similar reasons as myself. A pretty poor turnout really, but perhaps just as well!
The first thing which annoys me are diabetes educators - the diabetes association runs training courses to educate health professionals to advise and help people with diabetes, but this actually makes it all worse. There are limited health professionals who can take the diabetes educator training, and fewer who can actually get the qualification. Doctors are allowed to become DEs, as are pharmacists, nurses, physios, podiatrists and not a lot more. How many of these professionals have any nutritional medicine training or experience? NONE! Yet they are allowed to give nutrition advice on the fastest-growing nutrition-related chronic health condition in the world today! Dietitians can also become DEs, but at least they have *some* nutrition training, even if much of it is wrong. Nutritionists and Naturopaths (like me) cannot take the DE training, and we can't get the qualification or qualification, despite our more current nutrition science training and experience!
I'm still confused as to the meaning of the seminar! It was about "carb counting", but instead of (as I had hoped) counting carbs to LIMIT their intake, and thus reduce blood sugar levels and insulin response (which diabetics need to do), the purpose was to count carbs to INCREASE their intake - which is precisely the opposite of what should happen.
They introduced a new concept of "carbohydrate exchange", to attempt to simplify counting of carbohydrates in terms of grams or calories. They instead recommend counting carbs in blocks of 15gm as "1 exchange" of carbs, so 2 exchanges means 2 x 15gm = 30gm carbs. That was the only "new concept" but I'm still confused as to 1) why, or 2) how this will improve a diabetic's health?!
Some other gems I was told in the seminar:
1) Non-starchy vegetables and some fruit don't count as carbs at all. No need to count them!
2) Diet soft drinks and diet cordials are non-carbs too and are "fine", despite them being linked to actually causing weight gain, diabetes and cancer (which I pointed out)
3) Starchy foods - potato, rice, pasta etc are needed as they "fill you up more"! (Maybe, but not as filling as protein or healthy fats, which give a longer lasting energy)
4) 10% of your daily dietary intake as sugar is fine (12 tsp)
5) Your dietary intake of carbs must not fall below 130gm per day!
6) Dietary fat influences blood glucose levels! NO it doesn't!
7) I was told that alcoholic drinks shouldn't be included in counting carbohydrates! And alcohol can LOWER blood glucose overnight - no it doesn't! And alcohol is "potentially a low-GI snack before bed"! huh?!
8) Despite Diabetes Australia releasing a "position statement" on using a low-carb plan for treating type 2 diabetes, as there is a LOT of published science showing it works, they aren't ready to commit to this yet and they want more studies done
9) But in the next sentence, low carb was bad again, as our muscles and brain can only run on glucose (sugar) - complete BS! (I said this was wrong, but they didn't accept it)
10) Dietitians and DEs shouldn't tell people that they can't have this or that food!
11) Diabetics need to eat more carbs UP to their insulin requirements! (No, they need to reduce carbs to reduce insulin...)
12) "Fad diets are those that cut out certain foods or food groups" and are not recommended! I asked, "according to that definition, vegetarian and vegan diets are fad diets and should also be ignored?"!
13) Counting carbs with the new "exchange" method has been shown to reduce HbA1c (a diabetes pathology test marker) by up to 2% over a couple of month period. I said "I've reduced HbA1c in a type 2 diabetic client by 20% in 2 weeks using a low carb plan..." and they looked shocked and angrily reminded me that we are learning about "counting carbs" not "low carb", ok?!
14) There was a lot of contradictory information being given. And even simple little things like "fats and oils and protein don't have any carbs", meaning that they won't cause high blood sugars is ignored in their "treatment". They seem blind to the obvious
15) Saturated fats and cholesterol are still bad as they cause heart disease! No they don't! The two rebels put forward a few comments on this against the speaker who said "we will agree to disagree"...
16) In the past, diabetes was treated by doctors with a "NO CARB" diet! That was, until 1921 when insulin was discovered! After this, a "LOW CARB" diet was recommended for diabetics, and there was a much lower rate of diabetes! (Now we have an epidemic of diabetes as a result of people being advised to have a HIGH CARB diet instead! Why can't they see this connection? Is it from diabetic retinopathy?!)
Amusingly, there were lollies on the tables, we had to count carbs for a range of processed and packaged crap foods (breads, crackers, cereals etc), NONE of which I either buy or recommend to any clients, morning tea was a carb fest of bakery products and fruit (more carbs), and lunch was not much better. I hope I sowed a few seeds of doubt in the heads of those who attended, as they clearly had no idea about nutrition or how to actually help diabetics, which was why they were there.
It's also very sad and disturbing too, that a high profile health organisation is in complete denial about the causes of diabetes, and current evidence-based treatments. Sure I understand it's difficult to change your mind on an entrenched belief, but at some stage you need to bite the bullet and say "sorry, we got it wrong" and move on, to help people with their health. This is about peoples' lives that are at stake here, it's not just about sponsorship money. It's about real people, and their families. Wake the hell up Diabetes Queensland/Australia.
Treat diabetes with current scientific treatments - see an experienced Nutritionist and/or Naturopath instead.