10 Diabetes Myths: What You Don’t Know Can Harm You

Don’t “myth” the point with a “myth-conception” about diabetes. Diabetes is a serious and potentially deadly disease. Here are the top 10 diabetes myths modified from the American Diabetes Association. Don’t let diabetes take control of you!

1. Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.
FACT: If you manage your diabetes properly, you can prevent or delay diabetes complications. However, diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and aids combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

2. Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
FACT: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but not the only one. Family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Don’t disregard these other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

10 diabetes33. Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
FACT: It’s not that simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and other unknown factors; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes because they raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!

One 12-ounce can of regular soda has 150 – 225 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate; the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar!

One cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate. The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting sugar-sweetened beverages like:

  • Regular soda
  • Fruit punch
  • Fruit drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Sweet tea
  • Other sugary drinks

4. Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
FACT: Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone –

  • Low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat)
  • Moderate in salt and sugar
  • Meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit

5. Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.
FACT: Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size is key. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. How much? Start at about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, or 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods and adjust from there with the help of your health care team.

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6. Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.
FACT: Yes they can, if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

7. Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.
FACT: FALSE. Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle factors also play a part.

8. Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.
FACT: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who get the flu are at higher risk of developing serious complications.

9. Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
FACT: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, oral medications usually keep blood glucose at a healthy level. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

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10. Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.
FACT: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. But fruits also contain carbohydrates that need to be included in your meal plan. Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

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