Strap on your super sleuth cape because it is time to find and debunk some diabetes myths! Throughout the program, Lark for Diabetes Care discusses tips and offers tools for managing your condition, but confusion can come from all the noise out there, from TV commercials telling you which medications to try to well-meaning friends telling you what diet you should be on. Here is a review of some common myths and facts about diabetes.
1. Eating sugar causes diabetes
Though eating a high-sugar diet can contribute to diabetes there are many other causes and contributing factors. Lifestyle factors, such as low activity, being overweight, and eating a lot of sugar, are examples of modifiable risk factors and are among the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. However, genetics can also play a role. Family history as well as race and age are also factors that are non-modifiable but that can contribute to diabetes. Monitoring sugar intake is important in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels if you have diabetes, but having diabetes does not mean you need to cut out all sugar. As with most things in life, moderation is key.
2. As long as you feel good, diabetes can be ignored
Blood sugar can rise to unhealthy levels without causing any symptoms. It is important to continue to monitor your blood glucose levels, follow your physical activity and diet plan (or modify them based on the numbers that you see), and take your diabetes medications as prescribed. Managing diabetes can have great rewards, such as feeling better, preventing complications, and potentially improving your diabetes.
3. You have to eat frequently to keep your blood sugar stable
It is important to work with your doctor to find a diabetes management program that works best for you. Taking your medication as prescribed, at the same time and frequency as recommended by your doctor, and following the diet recommendations provided to you can help your blood sugars stay more level. While frequent meals and snacks may work for some people with diabetes, others may do better with larger meals at regular times. If you feel a symptom of low blood sugar like fatigue, clammy hands, confusion or lightheadedness, it is best to measure your blood sugar first and then have a small amount of carbohydrates if your blood sugar is too low. If this happens frequently, it may be time to ask your doctor if you need a change in prescription medications. One reason why this may happen may be if you become more physically active, allowing your body to keep blood sugar more stable on its own (congratulations!)
4. Having diabetes means you cannot play sports
No way! This is entirely untrue. Lark knows how important physical activity is for maintaining healthy blood sugar and losing weight, and gaining muscle mass. Playing sports can be a fun way to get activity and lead to great benefits for your overall health. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind, such as making sure shoes are not tied too tightly, making sure that you remain hydrated throughout a game or practice, and checking blood sugar before, during, and after practices and games. Go, you!
5. Diabetes can be cured with herbs or bitter foods
Though everyone wants an easy fix for diabetes, simply taking an herbal supplement or eating a lot of bitter foods does not cure diabetes. Something that sounds too good to be true usually is, not to mention that eating bitter foods all day may not be much fun. Remember to be skeptical the next time a co-worker or friend suggests following a cabbage soup diet, eating dried coffee beans, or taking the same herbal supplement that their mother’s cousin’s friend took to “cure” her diabetes. What has been proven to help lower blood sugar are eating well, being physically active, taking medications as prescribed, and sticking to the rest of your diabetes care plan. You, your healthcare provider, and Lark know what may be best for your diabetes. Keeping your eyes on the prize – and your body’s needs – can help you maintain healthy blood sugar.