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Diabetes Diet Myths — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 26, 2008 at 8:27 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Diabetes Diet Myths


Myth: For diabetics, controlling blood sugar is the only goal of a diet. Fact: While controlling blood sugar is essential to any diabetic treatment regimen, and this can often be accomplished by eating a healthier, more nutritious diet, this should not be the only goal. Diabetics are more prone to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. Roughly three out of four people with diabetes will eventually die from some form of heart disease. For this reason, eating a healthy diet geared at minimizing the risk of these complications and managing weight are vital.

Myth: There is a special diabetes diet . Fact: The diet advised for diabetics is one high in fruits and vegetables, with plenty of whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoid white flour, rice and pasta, eat red meats sparingly and opt for lean versions, and save sweets and treats for special occasions. This is basically the same diet that everyone who wants to maintain life-long health should employ. Diabetes doesn't mean that you have to prepare separate meals for yourself or that you can't go out and eat occasionally with friends. Just try and keep it healthy and remember portion size.

Myth: Diabetics should stick to low-glycemic foods. Fact: The glycemic index is a way to measure how fast your body absorbs the sugars in different foods. Generally, foods that absorb more slowly will ensure that sugar is released into the blood more gradually and blood sugar doesn't spike. This is very good for a diabetic. However, several factors, including fat, will lower the glycemic index of a food. Therefore, a food with a low glycemic index can still be unhealthy. As a rule, the glycemic index can be a good guideline, but it's better to concentrate on eating healthy, nutritious foods.

Myth: If you're diabetic, you can't eat any refined sugar at all. Fact: Most diabetics can include some sugar in their diet. The key is portion control. Don't go overboard, and don't indulge too often, but as long as you're monitoring your blood sugar and have it under control, there's no reason to deny yourself that occasional treat.

Myth: It's okay to eat as much sugar-free food as you want if you're diabetic. Fact: Most sugar-free alternatives are high in carbohydrates. Once you eat them, your body converts these carbohydrates into sugar. A couple of pieces of sugar-free candy are fine, but it's best to limit your intake just as stringently as if it were regular candy. Watch that sweet tooth .

Myth: In order to reap the benefits of exercise, you have to exercise for at least an hour a day. Fact: A regular exercise regimen is important for controlling blood sugar and keeping your diabetes in check. That said, any increase in exercise at all will be beneficial. Start slow and work yourself up to more intense work-out sessions. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy and will stick with.

Myth: The progression of diabetes is inevitable. Fact: Diabetes can, over time, lead to damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and increase your risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer's, and osteoporosis. However, this progression is not inevitable. Taking good care of yourself, keeping your blood sugar under control at a good level, eating healthy, and exercising can keep these complications at bay for a long, and in many cases, may prevent you from developing them at all.


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