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nutrition and diabetes

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Do you know diabetes?

Asian man reading newspaper.

How much do you know about diabetes?

If you have diabetes or know someone with diabetes, you may also know there's a lot to learn about diabetes in order to manage blood sugars and your health. Quiz yourself to find out if you're on top of your game. Below you’ll find some questions that might be diabetes myths. You’ll answer whether you think the questions are true or false. If you find there are some things you'd like to know more about, contact your diabetes education team. That's what we're here for!

1. Diabetes (or pre-diabetes) is not that serious of a disease.

False. Diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. In 2050, 1 of 3 people will have diabetes, if we don’t make changes.

2. Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

False. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of factors: family history, being overweight, sedentary lifestyle and the body’s inability to use its own insulin correctly. Changing the things you can, like losing weight, eating healthier and exercising, can help manage blood sugars.

3. People with diabetes shouldn't eat sugar or sweets.

False. But too many sugary foods and sweets aren’t healthy for anybody! 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.

4. People with diabetes should eat as few carbs as possible.

False! Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size matters. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks, as can fruit. Not only do these foods provide your body with energy, they also help keep your gut healthy, provide vitamins and minerals, and help manage hunger. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods at meals is about right. Ask your dietitian for help determining how many carbohydrates you should eat.

5. People with diabetes are more likely to develop colds and other illnesses.

False. You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, it may be more difficult to heal or recover from an illness or injury if blood sugars are uncontrolled. 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.

6. You can tell how your blood sugar is doing by how you're feeling.

False. Using a glucose monitor is the best way to know what your blood sugar is doing. You may not feel any different than normal if your blood sugar is high—and it may still be doing damage to your nerves and blood vessels. Don’t risk it! Glucose monitors are easy to use and provide valuable information about your blood sugar patterns throughout the day.

7. If you have diabetes, you'll develop complications, no matter what you do.

False. If you keep blood sugars controlled, you are reducing the risk of developing diabetes complications like blindness, neuropathy and kidney disease. Uncontrolled blood sugars cause the complications of diabetes, not the diabetes itself. You can prevent them!

8. If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to take insulin, it means you are failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

False. 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 diet, exercise and/or oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces 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.

9. Everyone with diabetes receives diabetes education.

False. Surprisingly, if you have had diabetes education, you are one of the lucky few. Take advantage of it! Learn as much as you can and utilize your diabetes care team to help you stay as healthy as possible. If you know people with diabetes who haven’t had diabetes education, suggest they talk to their doctor about a referral to a diabetes educator.

Bonus question: True or false? Your doctor, diabetes education and/or dietitian are in charge of your diabetes.

False! You’re in charge of your diabetes. You get to decide how you will manage your blood sugars and your health. You decide whether or not you will allow the complications of diabetes to happen. Feel empowered! Take control. You have the power to STOP diabetes.

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