Fighting diabetes or living with diabetes is very common amongst South Asians over 50 and the statistics continue on in spite of methods taken to raise awareness and educate folks on how to keep their risks at bay. On the other hand, there are many myths around diabetes which we give a lot of weight for. So, it’ll be useful to separate the facts from myths. Here are the most popular myths debunked courtesy of Everyday Health.
Myth: “A diabetes diet is too limiting.”
Truth: You can eat just about anything you want — just count carbs.
Having type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up the foods you love. You just have to count carbs and learn how to fit them into your overall healthy eating plan. “All foods can fit — it’s all about how much carbohydrate you’re eating at a time and how you spread carbohydrates throughout the day,” says registered dietitian Paula Jacobs, MS, RD, LD, CDE, on staff with the Diabetes Self-Management Program at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas.
Working with a registered dietitian or a certified diabetes educator (CDE) will help you better understand how to count carbs and how to plan meals to control your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a range of 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, depending on your diet plan.
Myth: “I can never eat sweets again.”
Truth: You can, within reason.
Once you learn how to manage your diet, exercise, and any prescribed medications, you’ll see that sweets can fit into your carb-counting nutrition plan. The ADA recommends eating smaller portions or saving sweets for special occasions.
Myth: “I can eat only special diabetic foods.”
Truth: There are no “special” foods for diabetes.
The ideal diabetes diet is the same healthy diet that’s best for everyone — one that includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, according to the ADA. You just need to pay attention to the types and amount of carbs, protein, and fat you eat — and watch your portion sizes.
Myth: “Artificial sweeteners are bad for me.”
Truth: Artificial sweeteners are approved for safe consumption.
Artificial sweeteners can help satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories and carbohydrates than sugar. “I tell people, ‘You have a choice,’” Jacobs says. “You can eat something with no sweetness at all, you can eat something loaded with sugar, or you can compromise and eat something that is artificially sweetened.”
The Food and Drug Administration considers acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, and stevia to be safe alternative sweeteners, according to the ADA.
Just remember that foods made with artificial sweeteners can still contain carbohydrates from other ingredients. Don’t assume foods labeled “sugar-free” are also carbohydrate-free — always read nutrition labels.
Myth: “If I work really hard at eating right, my diabetes will go away.”
Truth: A healthy diabetes meal plan doesn’t cure diabetes, but it can help control it.
If you have type 2 diabetes, the insulin your body produces does not work effectively to move glucose from the foods you eat into your cells, where it’s used for energy. This causes glucose, or blood sugar, to build up in the blood. Eating a healthy diet and limiting the foods that spike blood sugar helps manage type 2 diabetes, but doesn’t cure it. You will need to continue to follow a diabetes-friendly diet to help keep your blood sugar levels steady and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes complications.
Myth: “Fruits are healthy, so I can eat all I want.”
Truth: Fruit contains carbohydrates, and you have to count your carbs.
Fruits are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and should be included in your diet. But fruits also contain carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugar, so it’s important to count carbs and fit them into your diabetes meal plan. Fresh, whole fruits are best, but frozen and canned fruits without added sugars are also good choices.
Myth: “I can drink juice instead of soda.”
Truth: Juice is loaded with sugar, just like soda.
“To drink a lot of fruit juice would be the same as drinking soda,” Jacobs says. Although juice may have some nutrients, it also contains about the same amount of sugar as soda and can raise your blood sugar.
You’re better off eating whole fruit, with the skin, which will give you fiber and be a bit more filling. If you do choose to include juice in your meal plan, make sure it’s 100% juice with no sugar added and keep portions small — about 4 ounces.
Myth: “I’m taking diabetes medications, so I can eat whatever I want.”
Truth: You need to manage your diet to keep blood sugars steady.
To manage your type 2 diabetes, you need to eat healthy and exercise regularly, in addition to taking your diabetes medications as prescribed. Even if you’re taking diabetes medications, your blood sugar can rise if you eat too many carbohydrates, so it’s important to follow a diabetes-friendly diet.
“In order to avoid diabetes complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and amputation, you have to maintain your blood sugars at a healthy level,” Jacobs says. The right diet can also help you reduce or manage your weight, which could help with diabetes control.
possible symptoms and side-effects of diabetes
With monotonous lifestyles combined with the daily rush leaving no room for regular exercise and reflection, we’re all at risks of deteriorating our health one way or another.
Having diabetes in my family, the risks are always lurking in the back of my mind. And, truth be told that I had some confusing thoughts surrounding a few myths above. I hope you find this information as useful as I did.