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Food and Diabetes: Top Myths and Facts  

Many myths surround diabetes, especially when it comes to food and diabetes. This makes it hard to figure out what you can and cannot eat. Are carbs bad for you? Are you allowed to eat sweets? Do you have to follow a special diet? To make things easier, here’s a look at the facts behind some of the top myths surrounding food and diabetes.

Myth #1 – Eating Sugar Can Cause Diabetes

The truth: People develop diabetes for many reasons, including lifestyle and genetics. Things that you can do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes include eating foods low in saturated fat and added sugar, exercising regularly, watching portion sizes, and eating high fiber foods. But eating sugar does not cause diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and not caused by lifestyle at all.

Myth #2 – You Can’t Eat Starchy Foods if You Have Diabetes

The truth: Starchy foods like rice, noodle, bread, and potatoes can be part of your healthy meal plan. Choosing the right portion sizes is important. You can include rice, noodle, starchy vegetables (carrots & broccoli), whole-grain bread, and cereals in your snacks and meals. Other sources of carbohydrates include beans, yogurt, fruits, and milk products. While it’s important to keep portion sizes reasonable, you can learn to include these foods in your meal plan.

Myth #3 – People with Diabetes Must Go on a Special Diet

The truth: There’s no actual “diet” for people who have diabetes. Healthy eating is the same for everyone. Eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and it can help people who have diabetes manage blood sugar levels.

A healthy diet includes eating foods low in added sugars and high in fiber. Choose healthier unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil, oily fish, and nuts to replace saturated fats. Eat plenty of vegetables and include some whole grains, fresh fruits, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Keep sweets as foods you eat on special occasions.

You may also want to talk with a dietician after you are diagnosed with diabetes for some advice on the right portion sizes and food choices for your needs.

Myth #4 – You Can’t Eat Certain Fruits if You Have Diabetes

The truth: Many fruits – especially those that have a lot of fiber – are slowly absorbed into your bloodstream. This means they make blood sugar levels rise slowly. You can eat any type of fruit if you have diabetes, but the important thing is your portion size. Eating too much fruit can affect blood sugar levels. A serving size of fruit is one cup of cut-up fruit, two small pieces of fruit, or one medium piece of fruit.

Myth #5 – People with Diabetes Can Never Eat Sweets

The truth: If you’re worried about attending a special occasion and missing out on dessert, there’s good news. You don’t have to miss out on eating sweets now and then when you have diabetes. You can still enjoy eating sweets. The key is to go with small portions, and if you’re on an insulin regimen, adjust doses to account for the extra carbs.

When you have all the facts about diabetes and foods, it’s easier to manage your blood sugar. A diabetes eating plan doesn’t need to be complicated or overly restricted. Work with your dietician or doctor to come up with a healthy eating plan that helps you manage your blood sugar while incorporating your favorite foods.

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