Common Myths About Diabetes and Sugar

If you have diabetes, you can’t have sugar, right?  False!

One of the more popular beliefs out there is that when you have diabetes, you can’t have sugar in any form.  This is actually false.  Sugar can be consumed in moderation, you just have to be aware of how much you’re taking in and from all food sources.  While there is little actual nutritional value in sugar, it can be part of meals that do have dietary benefits.  Just be sure that you pair your sugar intake with foods that are better for you or higher in protein.  Also watch the portions you are consuming.
If you get most of your sugar from sweets or desserts, be sure to be careful and not make it a routine.  It is always best to keep your cravings for sweets in control.  If you have trouble managing your cravings, it is often best not to indulge in them at all.  Be sure to have alternatives on hand and keep some snacks available just in case the mood strikes.

If the package says “sugar-free”, it doesn’t count.  False!

When you buy foods that say “sugar-free” it doesn’t mean they’re entirely ok to eat.  Sugar-free labels can be used in any grocery item that has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.  There may other additives to these items as well including carbohydrates or additional calories.  Always read the label when you’re purchasing a sugar-free food.  You should also note if they contain sugar substitutes like sucralose or stevia.
You should always try to go low or “no carb” if you’re diabetic.  False!

Diets that are low in carbohydrates are usually prescribed for those who have diabetes, especially if you have Type 2 diabetes.  Studies have shown that if you eat a diet low in carbohydrates, you also have a lower blood sugar.  So this is why the two are often paired together and why people think you have to stick to this diet if you have the disease.

A good way to remember is to think about how much you eat in terms of calories, then divide it in half.  That is the right amount of carbs for you to be ingesting if you have diabetes.  If you go lower, it can be too much.  Moderation is key!

If you have diabetes, you cannot eat the same meals as your friends or family.  False!

Of course it is good to eat a healthy diet and a diabetic diet can help with that.  You don’t need to eat any differently than other people though, you don’t have “special” foods or requirements that can’t be met by regular food items.

If you have a lunch date with a friend, no need to worry, you can order off the menu like everyone else, just be sure to include healthy choices that meet your requirements.  Really all you need to remember is to stay aware of the carbohydrates, other than that, you just eat healthy and in moderation.  You don’t have to stress about family meals or dinner dates, it is ok!  If you’re diabetic, you just have to know what foods are ok and what ones to avoid, it is that simple.

If you have Diabetes, you should bring snacks everywhere you go.  False!

In the past, diabetes were encouraged to have snacks before they went to bed but now current studies show that may not be true for everyone.  Whether or not you need a snack will depend on how you handle your Type 2 Diabetes individually.

For example, if you take insulin or maybe you tend to be hypoglycemic, you may want to take snacks with you or insert them into your normal eating schedule.  The point of having a snack when you’re diabetic is to keep your blood sugar levels normal and level.  There are other problems that can occur when snacking though, namely, overindulging.  Like everything else you need to be aware of what you’re consuming and how much of it you’re taking in.  You can always consult your doctor if you have concerns.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DIABETIC DIETS

When it comes down to it, there are quite a few falsehoods and misconceptions about diabetes and your diet.  The following paragraph will outline some of the most common myths you hear when you’re a diabetic.

  • Sugar can “give you” diabetes – there is no truth to the idea that eating sugar or having too much sugar will give you diabetes. Diabetes is caused by an imbalance in the way your body processes food, not from sugar itself.
  • Diabetic diets are constricting – diabetic meal plans are very flexible and allow for normal food to be eaten in moderation.
  • You can’t eat carbs if you’re diabetic – carbohydrates in moderation are fine if you’re diabetic, you just have to be aware of the levels of carbs you’re eating.
  • Diets high in protein are the best if you’re diabetic – you may think that switching your diet over to a high protein one is best if you have diabetes, but this isn’t correct. Just because you want a low carb diet, doesn’t mean a no carb diet is best.  Sometimes proteins can contain other harmful ingredients like fats, so be sure to consult your doctor before changing your diet.
  • Diabetic medications allow me to eat whatever I want – you may be tempted to think that your medications will allow you to eat like normal but just because you’re taking insulin doesn’t mean you can indulge in unsafe foods. You can’t “make up” for a poor diet by taking medications. Your diabetic medications won’t allow you to cheat on your diet either.
  • I have to give up all the food I love because I have diabetes – this isn’t true at all! Sure, you may have to cut back when it comes to sweets or desserts, but you should probably be doing that anyways, even if you’re not diabetic.  Just because you’re diabetic doesn’t mean you have to miss out on sweets though.  You can also change the way you cook your favorite foods and pick healthy ways to prepare them.  Smaller portions will also help, they are a way you can still satisfy a craving but not ruin your diabetic diet.  Find ways to include your favorite dishes or meals into other main recipes, that way you get a small sample of your favorite, in a reasonable portion.  When you do it this way, you don’t feel deprived of food either and it can be a good compromise.
  • I can’t eat desserts anymore because I have diabetes – this is absolutely not true! You don’t have to stop having desserts altogether.  In fact, you can still have sweets in your diabetic diet plan if you plan carefully enough.  This means having smaller portions of your favorite dessert or using sugar substitutes when baking.  Also, try different sweets instead of traditional ones, you never know, you could find a healthy alternative.  The best thing about the digital age is that you can research alternative ingredients that replicate the taste of a favorite sweet, so you can satisfy your urge without hurting your diet.  Check online to see if you can swap out a snack with another recipe!
  • Sugar substitutes can’t be used when you’re diabetic – another common misconception is that you cannot use artificial sweeteners when you have diabetes. This is not true, you can use them, but like many other things in this list, do so in moderation.  There are many different options out there for you to try including natural sweeteners like Stevia or substitutes like Equal or Sweet-N-Low.  Consult with your doctor or nutritionist if you have concerns about any of these.
  • I have to have “special meals” as a diabetic – you don’t have to do anything different to you meal plan other than eat healthy and be aware of the carbohydrate level in your meals. The things you really need to be concerned with include calories and carbs, you don’t even have to pack special meals.  You can continue your dinner dates and lunches with mom without a problem!
  • You can only eat “low-cal” food or diet food when you have diabetes – if you’re diabetic, you don’t have to make drastic changes to your food routine, and you don’t have to switch to low calorie or diet products just because you have diabetes. Always read the labels and research your food choices, you never know, you could find something that is labeled “diet” is just as bad for you.  It always helps to be an informed consumer.

I hope this article has explained some of the common misconceptions about the diabetic diet.  There is hope, you don’t have to worry about drastic changes to the food you eat, just the way you eat it!

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