There are so many mixed messages in the news and media about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, and how to “reverse” diabetes, that it can b e hard for individuals with diabetes or at risk for diabetes, to know what rules to follow. The most common diabetes myths that I have heard must be debunked once and for all.
1.) You can’t eat any carbs when you have diabetes.
When you have diabetes, or are at risk for diabetes, it is not about eating no carbs, but about eating the right carbs and distributing your consumption of carbs throughout the day to keep your blood glucose levels stabilized. Depending on your height and weight, you should consume between 3 and 5 carbohydrate exchanges per meal, and 1 to 2 carbohydrate exchanges per snack time, which should be about 2 hours after meals. One carbohydrate exchange is equal to about 15 grams of carbohydrate and is equal to about a slice of bread, 1/3 cup of cooked pasta or rice, ½ cup starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, or potatoes, ½ cup fruit, a medium piece of fruit, 1 cup milk, or 1 cup yogurt, to name a few.
2.) Fruits are full of sugar and are just as bad as candy.
Fruits contain the sugar component, fructose, or fruit sugar, while candy and sweetened drinks and foods contain refined white table sugar, or sucrose. Even though both types of sugar are digested similarly in the body, the sugar in fruit, along with the fiber fruit contains, is digested slower in the body thus better enabling a stabilization of blood glucose levels. In addition, foods from nature, such as fruit, will always be more nutritious for you than processed foods such as candy and sweetened foods and drinks.
3.) I can eat what I want and just take more insulin to make up for it.
I never recommend that individuals, with diabetes, or any illness for that matter, depend too much on medication. In order to truly gain a stable health status, whether it be with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or high cholesterol, it is always important to incorporate a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep along with the medication regimen so that we can gain the greatest benefit from the medication, and in some case, so that we can be placed on a lower dose of medication at some point.
4.) If I have a family history of diabetes I am doomed to get diabetes.
Although a family history of a disease places us at greater risk for developing that disease later in life, it does not mean we are definitely going to get that disease. Our genetics increase our risk of developing disease, but our environment ultimately determines whether or not we will actually develop a disease. With a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper sleep, and maintaining a normal weight status, we can lower our risk of developing diseases that may be prevalent in our family.
5.) If I get diabetes, but lose a bunch of weight, I can cure my diabetes.
Although there have been some studies that have shown a decrease in blood glucose levels of individuals with diabetes after being on extreme diets, or with extreme weight loss, there is no conclusive evidence that diabetes can be reversed. However, those with diabetes can treat their diabetes and prevent complications through weight loss, a healthy diet, and regular physical activity. Physical activity actually aids in keeping blood glucose levels stable, so it is a vital part of treating diabetes, or preventing diabetes from developing if you are at risk for diabetes.
Therefore, it is important to not buy into everything that you hear about diabetes and in treating and preventing the disease. Visit your healthcare provider and get the facts so that you can properly treat or prevent diabetes the right way so you can live a full, healthy life.