I felt that if I told people, then they would think it was my fault.... 
that if I had worked out harder or eaten better, I might have prevented it.
It is not fair to judge which diabetes condition is more serious, all types of diabetes have a serious impact on people’s health, it is a difficult condition which takes a lot of time, persistence and care to manage.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Some Diabetic Myths dispelled

There are many myths about Diabetes that make it difficult for people to believe some of the hard facts – such as diabetes is a serious and potentially deadly disease.  These myths can create a picture of diabetes that is not accurate and full of stereotypes and stigma. 

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.
Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.  Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Me: I  get this all the time. That it is no 'big deal.'  
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact:  Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight. 

Me: I was not 'fat' and had an active lifestyle. Genetics played a huge role for me.  I know a lot of overweight people who are not diabetic.  I believe it to be a scare tactic advertising to get people to look after their health. but sadly ignorant folk who believe everything they read and see on tv use it as a weapon against suffers of db.   

Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes. 
Fact: No, it does not.  Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.  Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain.  If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.

Me: I was a  foodie so that carefree attitude about trying anything and everything and throw genetics into the mix and it finally caught up with me

Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit.  Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive, and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Me: I do not agree with this theory. Sugar, grains and white foods ie potatoes, rice, flour, all = high carbs.  My undoing, as that is how I ate before db caught up with me.  Now I can only tolerate 1/2 an orange, 1/4 of an apple, no bananas and so on.  I do agree with the affects of "dietetic" foods.  I also think that everyone's metabolism is different and while I have a low tolerance another diabetic may not.  Another reason that I 'eat by my meter'

Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta. 
Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan.  What is important is the portion size.  Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks.  The key is portions.  For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods is about right.  Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Me: hmmm I think eliminating all starchy foods that once were part of my daily meal plans has been what has helped me gain control.   I have a daily limit on my carb intake.
 I also eat by my bgl meter reading, if I have a nice low reading I can afford to eat something that is higher in carbs.  Not often, and certainly not every day.  Always making sure it is within my allowed carb count.  Which means I swap it for something else.

Myth: People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.
Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.  They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. 

Me: I was also told this and nearly blew the top of my head off.  Even diabetic jelly etc I have to be very careful with.  I can eat about 2 squares of 80% cocoa dark chocolate but that is about it for the week.... hardly worth the effort really.

Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.
Fact: No.  Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious.  It can’t be caught like a cold or flu.  There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.  Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Me: Oh darn, there are a few people I would have loved to sneeze on if this were true.  Though I have been treated like a leper on the odd occasion.  Or been told that they will not get diabetes because they watch what they eat or that they have sympathy for T1 diabetics but not T2 as we brought this on ourselves...

Myth:  People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses. 
Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes.  However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

Me: Since I was diagnosed a couple of years ago I am much healthier in the cold and flu department than before diagnosis.

Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications.  But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal.  Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.
Me: Yikes hope this isn't true.  Not something I want to look forward to.

Myth:  Fruit is a healthy food.  Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish. 
Fact: Fruit is a healthy food.  It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan.  Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

Me:  I used to be called "the fruit fly"  I thought all fruit was good for you and I loved my fruit and therein lies my problem.  Now I only have to look at grapes and my bgl rises.  As they say, all things in moderation but I can barely even have a taste without my bl shooting skywards.  So, now I get by, by smelling the fruit and remembering how it once tasted... there is a psychological term for that, and it works for me.

I  found low-carb is the best way for me to control bgl and carb counting is vital along with reading labels.  I restrict myself to 60g of carbs a day. so the next time you are out shopping check that packet of breakfast cereal and at 42g carbs (the lowest I have found)  it doesn't leave me much left over for the rest of the day.

Hope I have helped someone understand db just a little better and how food and stress.... yes. stress impacts on diabetics differently,  Diabetes is not a disease that  goes into remission. It is a silent disease with us 24/7.



  1. What an excellent post - it is so detailed and informative. Thanks for taking the time over that one.


  2. will try and comment briefly. Yes, thank you for posting about the myths. Of which there are many. It is a horrible chronic illness, which, because it is self medicated, is also tiring in the extreme, because you are never free of the tests and the worry.

    I have managed to comment briefly this time, although this subject is very close to my heart and it is "all about me" as well.

    Also feel it is time, the differences between Type 1 and Type 2, were more widely publicised.For there is a wide ocean between the two kinds of diabetes.

  3. Yes I would like to hear CV about the differences from a T1 point of view.

    Once upon a time anyone below a certain age was classed as T1 Now, with improvement in dr education and diagnosis more and more children are being diagnosed as T2. And not just because society is getting fatter either, there are other factors.... genetics being one of them.

  4. Diabetes runs rampant in my family. My mother had it, as did 3 of her sisters and 1 brother. I have several cousins with T2. It's something I fear, thus I try to stay away from carbs as much as possible. No white foods, and very little fruit, although I do love fruit!

    Supposedly, Native Americans inherited a gene from their ancestors which enabled them to use food more efficiently during "feast and famine" cycles. Today there are fewer such cycles, which causes Native Americans and their descendants to be more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. My maternal great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Thus my fear.

    Very interesting post. So, what happened to the zucchini recipe. I came back to write it down and it disappeared. ;)

  5. LOL I had posted it in the wrong spot but have sent you the link :)
    The same here in Australia our Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have the same problem.

  6. Type 1 over here, in the UK, is usually mixed up with Type 2, in any publicity.

    Type 2 is different because mostly Type 2 do not have to inject insulin, although some do, but only a small percentage.

    I have lost count of the times I have told someone I am diabetic, to be asked (cos I am not overweight!), whether I was fat when I was young. Ignorance is horrendous with diabetes, both types One and Two.

    I also heard once, with mounting horror, how an insulin dependent diabetic like me, was in a coma, due to a low blood sugar, and people who knew nothing around him, were suggesting an injection of his insulin (which was in his bag!) would bring him round. If they had done this, it would have sent him to his death.

    Luckily he was rescued by the paramedics arriving to help him.

    J x

  7. You would be surprised CV just how many T2 diabetics are insulin dependent.

  8. A very interesting blog with loads of information. I grew up with diabetes - well my dad was an insulin dependent diabetic for most of my life
    I have now run three 10k raising money for diabetes UK. I should really be running another....! Hence I literally do have the T shirt - in fact several which I wear proudly.
    That is because I really do think it is so very important to raise awareness as you are doing with your blog.
    My Dad died just after his 69 th birthday as a direct result of diabetic complications.
    All of his life he failed to take his condition seriusly but, having trained as a nurse, I was always aware and confess to nagging him!
    I think the issue with weight is interesting - it is not in itself a cause as you say but I know being insulin dependent makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose.
    Good work in flying the diabetic flag Bren.

  9. being a diabetic is not a lifestyle choice, being obese is. I have not gained much in weight since I was 18, and I have been a diabetic on insulin since I was 18. You can pump in insulin to cover up all sorts of over eating, insulin is also a weight producing hormone, so the two combined equal obesity.

    However, I choose, as a long term type one diabetic on insulin, to enjoy life, and enjoy my food, but not to ever over eat. Surely this is what most normal people should do?

    I really object to people thinking because you are diabetic it is inevitable you will become fat. Total rubbish. Like anyone you have to look after yourself and have pride in how you look and how you look after your health.

    More insulin, more food, equals a fat and unhealthy body.

    Exercise, good food, fruit, veggies, and pulses, and low carbs, (though fruit is a bit of a problem with sugars I admit), and there should never be a problem with your weight.

    My issue with the whole of the diabetic ignorance thing, is the total and utter misunderstanding of the general public who don't have it, or perhaps know someone who had it.....and these people quote and re quote their 'stuff" without taking time to know the real story.

    Being a Diabetic, is hard, really hard. It is life long, it is boring, it has a rigid routine which can drive a sane person mad, blood tests, injections.....keeping boring records....

    However, it is a healthy life style if you do it properly. It does not mean you will ineveitably be obese, Or ever where obese.

    Not looking after yourself, when you are a diabetic, whether type one or type two, means you will be obese and have health probs.

    But looking after yourself, means you will be as healthy if not healthier than the next person.

    And not obese!!

    This blog is good, because hopefully stupid myths and peoples' attitudes, which are wrongly formed from "oh I know someone, or someone related to me stuff", cannot be regurgitated endlessly, because the people who have diabetes won't let these myths continue!!