10 Diabetes Diet Myths
Has someone told you that eating too much sugar causes diabetes? Or that you’ll have to give up all your favorite foods when you’re on a diabetes diet? Not true! There are plenty of myths about diabetes and food. Here, we take a closer look to find out the facts.
Myth 1: Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes.
Simply eating too much sugar is unlikely to cause diabetes. Instead, diabetes begins when something disrupts your body's ability to turn the food you eat into energy.
To understand what happens when you have diabetes, keep these things in mind: Your body breaks down much of the food you eat into glucose, a type of sugar needed to power your cells. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which helps the cells in the body use glucose for fuel.
Here are the most common types of diabetes and what we know about their causes:
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot make insulin. Without insulin, sugar piles up in your blood vessels. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to help get the sugar into the cells. Type 1 diabetes often starts in younger people or in children. Researchers say it may be triggered when something goes wrong with the immune system.
- Type 2 diabetes happens when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, the insulin does not work properly, or both. Being overweight makes type 2 diabetes more likely. It can happen in a person of any age.
- Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in some women. Hormone changes during pregnancy prevent insulin from working properly. Women with gestational diabetes usually need to take insulin. The condition may resolve after the child is born.
Myth 2: There Are Too Many Rules in a Diabetes Diet.
If you have diabetes, you will need to plan your meals. But the general principle is simple: Choose foods that will work along with your activities and any medications to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
Will you need to make adjustments to what you now eat? Probably. But your new diet may not require as many changes as you think.
Myth 3: Carbohydrates Are Bad for Diabetes.
In fact, carbohydrates (or "carbs," as most of us call them) are good for diabetes. They form the foundation of a healthy diabetes diet -- or of any healthy diet.
Carbs have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels, which is why a diabetes diet asks you to monitor how many of them you eat. But they also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So choose those with the most nutrients, such as whole-grain breads, and high-fiber fruits and vegetables. You may find it easier to select the best carbs if you meet with a dietitian.