Diabetes and Diet: Myths and Facts

If you have diabetes, you must be watching what to eat to keep your blood sugar levels in control. It is the key to managing your diabetes and avoiding complications. But, there are many myths about diabetes that make it difficult for you to believe the facts about diabetes. Below, we have shed light on some of the common myths about diabetes:

diabetes, blood suger

1. Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating more sugar.

Fact: It’s a bit tricky here. Type 1 diabetes is mainly caused due to genetic factors and some unknown factors that trigger the disease. Type 2 diabetes is caused due to both genetic and lifestyle factors. Eating too much sugar can result in weight gain and being overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. But not all overweight people have diabetes.

2. Myth: When you are overweight, you will develop diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight increases your risk of getting diabetes, but other factors like family history, ethnicity, level of activity and age also play a role. All overweight people do not develop diabetes, and many diabetic people have normal weight or slightly higher weight.

3. Myth: People with diabetes should follow a special diabetic diet.

Fact: Diabetic diet is a common myth. A healthy diet plan for a diabetic person is same as a healthy diet for anyone- that is; it should be low in refined carbs, low in saturated fats and trans fats, low in salt and sugar, rich in protein and whole grains, healthy fats and vegetables. This diet will still impact their blood sugar levels.

4. Myth: Carbs are bad for people with diabetes.

Fact: Carbs are body’s preferred source of energy. However, quality and quantity of carbs have to be kept in mind while planning a diet. A person with diabetes should consume carbs which are rich in fibres like whole grains, brown rice, etc. Starchy and sugary carbs are not advisable as they only cause a rise in blood sugar without any benefits.

5. Myth: You can eat anything as far as you adjust your diabetic medication.

Fact: Healthy diet and regular medication is the key to having good control over blood sugar level in diabetes. If you try to eat more and compensate it with an extra dosage of medicines/insulin, it disrupts the balance and may result in fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Diabetic persons should follow the dosage and diet recommended by their doctor.

6. Myth: Diabetes does not run in my family, so I will not get it.

Fact: Family history is just one of the risk factors for diabetes. There are many other risk factors like obesity, which can cause diabetes even when there is no family history.

7. Myth: All diabetic people have to take insulin.

Fact: All people who have type 1 diabetes have to take insulin because cells in their pancreas do not make insulin. But, in case of type 2 diabetes, not all people have to take insulin. Many people take only medication and healthy diet to control blood sugar levels.

8. Myth: Insulin cures diabetes.

Fact: Insulin only helps to manage diabetes and does not cure it. Insulin helps the body cells in utilising the glucose (sugar) present in the bloodstream and use it for energy. It maintains the blood sugar level.

9. Myth:  You have Type 2 diabetes and doctor asks you to switch from medicines to insulin, it means you are failing to manage your diabetes.

Fact: Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. Initially, little insulin is synthesised by your body so that you can control blood sugar level with oral medicines. But as the condition progresses, insulin production decreases and eventually oral medication is not enough to control blood sugar levels. It doesn’t mean you are not able to manage your condition; it is just the part of disease progression.

10. Myth: Diabetic people cannot eat sweets.

Fact: Diabetic people can eat sweets as far as they practice portion control and continue exercising. Sweets are loaded with sugar and cause a steep rise in blood sugar level. The best way to indulge in sweets is to have a small portion and save them for special occasions.

It is essential to educate yourself about diabetes so that you can manage it well. Information that is not interpreted correctly, or is misleading, can be harmful to a diabetic person. Therefore, always talk to your doctor when you see information that does not seem right or contradicts with what the doctor told you.

Further Reading

Consult a top Diabetologist

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  • Diabetes facts and myths. Available at http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/diabetes-facts-myths.html#. Accessed on 4th August 2016.
  • Diabetes and Your Diet: Busting 7 Myths. Available at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/09/diabetes-and-your-diet-busting-7-myths/. Accessed on 4th August 2016.
  • Diabetes Myths. Available at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/?referrer=https://www.google.co.in/. Accessed on 4th August 2016.

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