Busting 5 Myths About Diabetes

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Are you or a loved one newly diagnosed with diabetes?

Diabetes is actually a much more complicated and surprising disease than most people realize. But the more you learn, the better your chances are of getting it under control.

Below are five things people get wrong about diabetes. Bust the myths, and you’re on your way to better management of the disease.

Myth #1: Only Overweight People Get Diabetes

Fact: “There’s a higher risk if you’re overweight, but if you’re not overweight, you certainly aren’t exempt from diabetes,” says Janis Winner, RN, and certified diabetes educator (CDE) at Premier Health.

In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), most overweight people do not have diabetes, while many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or are only moderately overweight. Other risk factors, like family history, ethnicity and age also play a role in acquiring diabetes.

Myth #2: I’ll Never Be Able to Enjoy Food Again

Fact: “Diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t have desserts,” explains Winner. “It’s really all about portion control and knowing your numbers.”

Most people with diabetes can eat the same healthy diet that all people are supposed to eat. This means a diet low in simple carbs (like white bread and rice), sugar, fat and calories, and high in whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins. It’s the portion sizes that really make a difference.

In addition, monitoring your glucose (per your doctor’s instructions) will give you a better handle on how your body is responding to sweets, treats and other carbs, and allow you to adjust your eating habits accordingly.

Winner and the ADA recommend working with a registered dietitian and health educator to create a diet that is both enjoyable and achieves the right balance of carbs, proteins and fat.

Myth #3: Diabetes is Not a Big Deal

Fact: Diabetes is a serious disease. According to the ADA, diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined, and having it nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack. Skin and eye complications, kidney damage and nerve damage (neuropathy), can also occur. “When people are first diagnosed, they may say, ‘I don’t feel bad. Why worry?’ And early on, it’s hard to talk yourself into paying attention to your disease if you don’t feel bad,” says Winner.

“Diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t have desserts,” explains Winner. “It’s really all about portion control and knowing your numbers.”

But, she warns, “Type 2 diabetes is progressive; over time, the body produces less and less insulin.” That’s why, if you have diabetes, it’s crucial to test your blood glucose regularly, adhere religiously to a diet and exercise plan, and get regular checkups. “Don’t depend on how you feel” to judge whether your diabetes is under control, Winner says. With the correct treatment and lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications.

Myth #4: Insulin is the Primary Treatment for DiabetesBusting 5 Myths About Diabetes - In Content

Fact: “When someone is first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, we usually try to manage it with diet, exercise and oral medications,” explains Winner. Eventually, oral meds may not be enough, and insulin will be prescribed. But whether insulin is prescribed or not, healthy lifestyle choices will always be key to successfully managing your diabetes.

Myth #5: Diabetes Can Be Reversed

Fact: If you have prediabetes, you might be able to reverse your condition through aggressive lifestyle change. And gestational diabetes (diabetes that sets in during pregnancy) usually goes away after you deliver your baby.

But once you are diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you have it for life. According to the ADA, with proper lifestyle management, you may be able to prevent or reverse some of the complications, and lead a relatively healthy life. However, although research is promising, to date there is no cure or treatment that makes diabetes go away.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Small Steps: Don’t Skip Appointments
Meet with your health care team regularly to make sure you’re on track with your diabetes treatment plan.