People with diabetes need to be wary of what they consume because intake of certain foods can negatively affect blood sugar levels. But have you been wrongly depriving yourself of food items that you don’t actually need to avoid, or worse, bingeing on those that you should be cutting back on?
Here are some widespread food myths surrounding the Diabetes diet, debunked once and for all:
Myth #1: Dessert is off-limits
Fact: Sugar-sweetened desserts are not the best choice for anyone, but very few people can cut them out entirely. It is generally preferable to have a satisfying bite or two of something sweet than to feel deprived. People who feel deprived may binge- eat later. If you are inclined to eat everything on your plate, take a smaller portion, share with someone, or use a smaller plate. Be aware that “No sugar added” or “sugar-free” desserts may still be high in carbohydrate and can raise blood sugar.
Myth #2: Artificial sweeteners are good for your body
Fact: Artificial sweeteners are a type of sugar substitute most commonly found in processed foods or provided in single-serving packets for home or restaurant use. Since they don’t have carbohydrate, artificial sweeteners won’t raise your blood sugar. They may help reduce your sugar intake which in the immediate term can reduce calories. However, it is unclear if eating foods with artificial sweeteners will lead to sustained weight loss. Unfortunately, people seem to have a way of making up for the calories in other ways!
Myth #3: Fruit juice is a healthy alternative to soft drinks
Fact: Fruit juice is a healthier alternative to soft drinks. For one thing, fruit juice is a natural product with no added chemicals or sweeteners and no bone density-reducing phosphoric acids, and it has some vitamins and minerals. However, fruit juice is not necessarily a “healthy” alternative. The healthy alternative, if at all possible, is to eat the whole fruit and drink some water. The whole fruit has more nutrients and fiber than juice and will keep you full and satisfied for longer. A large glass of juice often has more sugar than a serving of actual fruit and may even have more sugar than a can of soda. Stick to a small glass!
Myth #4: Carbohydrates will worsen your condition
Fact: Everyone should eat some carbohydrates, because carbs are the body’s primary source of energy. The amount of carbs recommended will vary from person to person, and should be discussed with your health care provider. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Carbohydrate intake from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and dairy products, with an emphasis on foods higher in ﬁber and lower in glycemic load, should be advised over other sources, especially those containing sugars.” These carbs are higher in fiber and nutrition, can keep you feeling satisfied for longer, and will help you avoid the fatigue and hunger caused by large drops in blood sugar.
Myth #5: It’s okay to indulge in fatty food since fats don’t affect blood sugar
Fact: Saturated fats are believed to play a role in cardiovascular disease and should be minimized, regardless of blood sugar. Mono-unsaturated fats may have cardio-protective properties, and when eaten along with carbohydrates, may help to minimize the impact of carbs on blood sugar. Fatty foods will affect the timing of a food-related blood sugar rise, which is particularly important to be aware of when taking insulin.
Myth #6: if you’re taking medication, you can eat whatever you want
Fact: Medication can help – to a point. If blood sugar is not brought down to target by one medication, doctors can add a medication that works in a different way, and if needed they can add a third medication that works in still another way. But (with the exception of insulin) each medication can only help lower blood sugar a certain amount. It is up to you to follow your doctor’s recommendations for food and activity, which together can potentially have the greatest impact on lowering blood sugar.
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