Diabetes is a global problem that impacts 422 million people worldwide. Most people know that this disease is tied to sugar levels, but beyond that, there’s a lot of questionable advice and untrue myths out there. Here are five of the most common myths debunked so that you can have the facts about monitoring your diabetes.

Diabetes isn’t always as dire as it’s made out to be.
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Diabetes Diet Myths

One of the best things you can do is to manage your diet to control your glucose levels. Here are a few myths concerning diet and what you really can and cannot eat.

Myth #1 – Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

What you eat and your lifestyle choices can definitely be a contributing factor towards getting diabetes, but the biggest factor lies in genetics. Scientists believe that certain people are born with the potential to have diabetes and then outside factors such as food, climate, and viruses play a role in triggering this disease.

Myth #2 – Desserts, wine and starchy foods need to be completely avoided.

Is there anything better than a meal that is comprised of a huge slice of meat, a side of steaming mashed potatoes, a glass of fruity red wine and a slice of chocolate cake as big as your head? In my world, that’s about as good as it gets. However, as a diabetic, do you need to avoid these foods altogether?

As with most things in life, moderation is key. Try shifting the portion sizes around. The amount of protein needed for diabetics is the same for non-diabetics, but most Americans eat way too much fatty meats. Choose lean cuts of meat that are about the size of a deck of cards with a small scoop of mashed potatoes on the side. Better yet, eat a salad or steamed vegetables as the main course with just a side of meat and a small starch. If you have managed to keep your diabetes under control, then one 5 ounce glass of wine is fine. Additionally, instead of inhaling a big slice of cake, eat a bite or two so you aren’t completely depriving yourself. Knowing what you CAN have feels a whole lot better than listing off the things you can’t have.

Myth #3 – Skip the sugar by eating sugar free foods.

There are a variety of new sugar free options on the market nowadays, but that certainly doesn’t mean that these are always the healthier choice. Many times these foods are highly processed, high in calories or high in fat. It’s important to read the nutritional charts on everything you eat so you know what you’re really putting into your body.

Diabetes Lifestyle Myths

Myth #4 – People with diabetes are more likely to get sick.

Patients with diabetes aren’t more likely to get sick, but they are more prone to complications. For example, if you get the flu or have an infection that makes you feel nauseous or causes you to throw up or have diarrhea, these problems can affect your glucose levels. When you do get sick, you should check your blood sugar levels every four hours, monitor your ketones, check your temperature and call your doctor.

Myth #5 – You didn’t take good care of yourself if your doctor says it’s time to start using insulin.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should know that this is a progressive disease. While exercising and eating right is important to staying healthy, over time your body may start to produce less and less insulin which could mean that oral medications may not be enough to manage your diabetes. If your doctor says it’s time to start using insulin, then it just means that you’re trying another way to keep you feeling better, longer.

“10 Diabetes Diet Myths”. Healthline. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diet-myths#overview1
“Genetics of Diabetes”. American Diabetes Association. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html
“How Do I Manage My Blood Sugar When I’m Sick?”. WebMD.  Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/managing-sick-days
“Diabetes Myths”. American Diabetes Association. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/