Unfortunately, there are many widespread myths about diabetes and diet. Some claims may deprive diabetics of enjoyable, safe foods, while other popular rumors could even be hazardous to your health. Read on to discover the truth behind the top six myths about diabetes and food.
1. Diabetes diets are almost too complex to manage
It is true that you need to be careful about planning meals when you’re diabetic, but don’t assume that this process will be difficult! In fact, if your food intake fits with your activity levels and current drugs to produce an approximately normal blood sugar reading, you can surmise that your diet is working well. Almost all diabetics need to tweak their diets after a diagnosis, but most report that doing so isn’t as complex as they imagined it would be.
2. Diabetics should have a very high protein intake
Protein looks good to diabetics because it doesn’t have a significant or immediate influence on blood sugar levels. However, if you have diabetes then you need to make sure you don’t overdo it on the protein front. Red meat and other common sources of protein also tend to contain quite a lot of saturated fat, and diabetics need to be careful with fats because of an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
3. You will get diabetes if you eat too much sugar
Almost everyone agrees that it is not a good idea to consume large quantities of sugar, especially if the majority of what you are eating is refined sugar. However, it is not true that just eating excessive quantities of sugar will cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is generally thought to be an immune disorder, and it develops when your pancreas becomes incapable of producing insulin (leading to spikes in blood sugar). Meanwhile, some cases of type 2 diabetes are related to a lack of insulin while others are related to insulin not working correctly. The key risk factor is thought to be obesity, not sugar, but of course it’s worth noting that eating too much sugar can indirectly raise the risk of type 2 diabetes by making you overweight.
4. Carbs are off the menu if you are a diabetic
Contrary to this misleading rumor, diabetics can actually benefit from a sensible and controlled intake of carbohydrates. You will need to keep an eye on the amount of carbs you ingest in a day, because they have a dramatic influence on blood sugar levels, but your body will appreciate the nutrients and fiber found in carbs. Ideally, diabetics should aim for healthy whole grain carbs, as well as fruits and vegetables.
5. Diabetics can’t order dessert
On a related note, there is a common misconception that diabetics can’t have desserts. Fortunately, the truth is far less depressing! If you’re diabetic, you just need to be a little more discerning about dessert. If you like baking, try using artificial sweeteners instead of large amounts of refined sugar, and look for recipes that include plenty of fruits and whole grains. When it comes to ordering at a restaurant, have modest portions and consider looking for fruit-based options on the menu.
6. Drugs can compensate for a poor diet
While it’s useful to know how to adjust insulin dosage to suit your food intake, diabetics shouldn’t just use large doses of medication to compensate for foods that destabilize blood sugar. Antidiabetic drugs achieve the best results if used consistently, so it’s always better to practice restraint when choosing meals instead of trying to tweak your insulin intake after the fact.