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National Diabetes Month Part 2

Monday, November 16, 2015

November is National Diabetes Month.  During the month we are looking at some of the myths surrounding this condition.  This week, the myths are about food and diabetes.

Myth #1:  Now that I am diabetic, I can’t have any sweets and chocolate.

Reality: Diabetes is a condition that effects how the body is able to use glucose from all the foods we eat which leads to a higher than normal blood sugar.  Sweets and chocolate do affect your blood sugar but they also affect your weight.  Your physician may want you to cut back on these items to help lower your weight.  Will you never eat sweets or chocolate again? Probably not.  Should you be aware of what these food choices are doing to your weight and blood sugar? Absolutely!

Myth #2: Conflicting statements that a diabetic should not eat any fruits and vegetables and a diabetic should eat lots of fruits because they are good for you.

Reality:  All foods in moderation.  Fruits and vegetables are among the foods with carbohydrates along with milk and grains.  We are all individual; some foods will send blood sugars very high in one person and not impact the next person much at all. Today, diabetes educators and registered dietitians look at the total carbohydrate intake of the person and the volume of food the person is having at one time.  The role of the diabetic is to make notes about what they have eaten and with glucometers in hand, learn what impact the food they have eaten has had on their blood sugar.   That puts the diabetic in charge of making changes to the food and more likely, the serving size.

Myth #3:  You must eat special diabetes food when you are diabetic.

Reality:  NO. Diabetics need to watch the carbohydrate intake of foods.  Foods labeled for diabetics have adjusted the carbohydrate content of the foods, but check the label. In making this adjustment, the manufacturer may have increased other ingredients such as fats or sodium content to compensate for other ingredient changes.  You may find it easier and less expensive to purchase a regular brand, note the amount you have had and again with glucometer in hand, learn what impact the food had on your blood sugar.

Myth #4:  Healthy food won’t increase blood sugar.

Reality:  Any food with carbohydrates has the potential to raise blood sugar, it is supposed to because the body’s main source of energy is glucose and the only source of energy our brain will use.  Glucose comes from foods with carbohydrates and healthy foods contain carbohydrates; milk, fruits, vegetables and grains.  The body’s goal is to move the glucose from the blood into the cells and insulin must be present for this to happen.  Everyone should eat healthy foods, the challenge for someone with diabetes is learning how much of these healthy foods to have at one time.  Testing blood sugars at different times after eating will help the diabetic discover just that.

Myth #5:  With diabetes, you can’t eat potatoes, bread, rice or pasta ever again.

Reality:  This does need repeating.  Any food with carbohydrates will raise blood sugar. In many individuals, grains raise blood sugar more than fruits, vegetables or milk.  That does not mean you never eat these foods again. It does mean, watch portion size and with your glucometer, learn the impact on your blood sugar.  Registered Dietitians (RD) are a part of every ADA Recognized Diabetes program.  When was the last time you met with an RD or took a nutrition class?  

Nancy M. Johnsen RN, CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Community Health Education Coordinator and Coordinator of the Diabetes Education Program at Noyes Health.  The program has locations in Geneseo, Dansville, Hornell and some local physician offices.

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