About diabetes myths and facts
There are many myths about diabetes. These myths can make it difficult for people to believe the facts. This articles provides general information about some common diet related diabetes myths.
Eating sugar can cause diabetes
I commonly hear people making a connection between eating high sugar foods and developing diabetes. So, does eating a diet high in sugar really increase your risk of type 2 diabetes? The answer is more complex than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We can’t say for sure whether eating a lot of sugar can be enough to trigger the onset of diabetes – more research needs to be performed. What we do know is that the risk of diabetes is influenced by genetics and lifestyle factors and weight gain certainly does increase ones risk. Therefore, consuming foods that contribute to weight gain (such as energy dense sugar) can indirectly increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The sugar that we are talking about above is your table sugar (sucrose) that is added to foods – not your natural sugars like fructose and lactose.
People who have diabetes need a special diet
A diet suitable for individuals with diabetes is really a healthy diet for anyone. The difference is that many of us don’t eat exactly how we should but it’s more important that individuals with diabetes do. The recommended diet focuses on foods lower in fat, with only minimal amounts of sugar and salt and a variety of healthy grains, lean meats, vegetables and fruit. Meals should be spread evenly across the day.
If you have diabetes, you need to avoid carbohydrate containing foods
I find that many people assume individuals with diabetes need to avoid carbohydrate foods like pasta, bread, cereal. This isn’t the case at all, carbohydrates are very important for keeping blood glucose levels stable! If carbohydrates were avoided, there would be a risk of hypoglycaemia. Carbohydrate foods should still be consumed by people with diabetes but portion sizes must be considered – particularly for those with type 1 diabetes. Having a small amount of quality carbohydrate (wholegrain bread, yoghurt, fruit, potato, corn, porridge) at each meal will ensure blood glucose levels do not drop too low but also that they don’t soar. The right carbohydrate portion sizes for you may depend on how you manage you diabetes.
Individuals with diabetes can’t eat sweets and sugar
As with anyone, individuals with diabetes can eat sweets. The key is to have only very small portions and only occasionally – like at Birthday’s or special events. This is in line with the healthy eating guidelines that are set for everyone. The nutritional value of sugary foods is usually very low, as such we should only eat them very occasionally. Physical activity and a healthy diet should be maintained for the remainder of the time.
People with diabetes can’t eat fruit
I frequently hear both sides of the argument when it comes to fruit. Some people say that fruit can’t be eaten because of the sugar content whilst others think unlimited amounts of fruit can be eaten because it’s good for us. Fruit should still be eaten as part of a healthy diet because it is a great source of fibre and other vitamins and minerals. However, it does need to be limited to about 2 pieces per day. This is because fruit contains carbohydrates in the form of fructose so it will affect blood glucose levels. It is generally great as a “in-between” meal snack!
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have any questions relating to diabetes myths or nutrition issues, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.