So you think you know everything you need to know about diabetes? Think again.
Diabetes causes more deaths than AIDS and breast cancer combined. The risk of death is 50% higher for adults with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Yet nearly 1 in 4 four adults living with diabetes – 7.2 million Americans – didn’t know they had the condition since diabetes often does not have overt symptoms at the onset of disease.
Learning about diabetes and applying healthy lifestyle practices is your best defense to prevent, delay, or reverse type 2 diabetes. In addition, these practices control blood glucose levels, which reduce the worsening of complications and the risk of developing new complications associated with diabetes.
There are many misunderstood facts about this disease. Check out these myths to improve your understanding:
Myth 1: Being overweight or obese means you will definitely develop type 2 diabetes.
Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease. Family history and ethnicity (which we can’t control) may be risk factors as well. However, we can control our weight. This is why so much attention is given to maintaining a healthy weight as a way to prevent the onset of diabetes.
Myth 2: If you have diabetes you can never eat bread or chocolate.
A dietitian can help you tailor your specific diet needs. But for most, it is less about never being able to have a certain food and more about control of consumption. When it comes to bread, choose whole grains and watch portion size. Your dietitian may feel it’s okay to place dark chocolate chips in a whole grain food now and then. You often get the same enjoyment from bites of rich dark chocolate in a wholegrain food as opposed to just a chocolate bar. It’s good advice for everyone to save these treats for special occasions and focus on more healthful foods most of the time.
Myth 3: People with diabetes are more likely to get sick.
Those with diabetes are not more susceptible to illness, but if they do get sick, it could make their diabetes more difficult to control and illness is more likely to result in critical complications. Focus should be on handwashing, nutritious eating, proper sleep, and relieving stress – things everyone should do to avoid sickness.
Myth 4: Avoiding sweets will control diabetes.
It’s not just sweets that affect blood glucose levels. Insulin production, insulin sensitivity, and carbohydrate consumption, among other factors, determine your blood glucose levels. Control blood glucose levels with real whole foods. Avoid packaged or processed foods and meats.
Myth 5: Those with diabetes need to follow a ‘diabetic diet.’
Diet recommendations for those with diabetes are largely the same diet recommendations for those without diabetes. Everyone should eat whole non-processed foods most of the time. More specific guidelines include:
- Portion control
- Eat more vegetables and fruit
- Replace refined grains with wholegrains
- Consume whole food fats as found in avocados, seeds, nuts, and olives
- Include lean proteins
- Limit dairy
In addition to proper nutrition, a regular exercise program will aid in controlling your weight. A combination of good nutrition and consistent exercise are your best ways to prevent, control, and reverse diabetes.
Making lifestyle changes takes a commitment. God is with you on your journey. Be strong and courageous. It will be worth the effort.
“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” –Psalm 107:9