Updated: Mar 11, 2022
100 million US adults are now living with prediabetes or diabetes. Since April is National Defeat Diabetes Month, it's a perfect time to get the facts and debunk the myths associated with Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics can't eat sweets: Actually, it's more about moderation and portion control. Foods high in sugar are digested faster and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Pair foods higher in sugar with protein and fiber. For example, a sliced apple with a few mini dark chocolate chips and natural peanut butter is a combo that will help keep sugar levels stable.
Sugar-free foods are safe for glucose levels: You may think you're doing yourself a favor by eating sugar-free foods but that's not necessarily true. Sugar-free foods usually have carbs and fat to make up for the flavor missing from the sugar. For example, a slice of fruit pie labeled as "no sugar added" still has large amounts of carbs in it.
Only Overweight people get diabetes: There is a strong association between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In fact, a Public Health England report stated obese adults in England were fives times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than adults of normal weight. However, not every Type 2 diabetic is overweight. Scientists still don't fully understand the link between diabetes and obesity. Type 1 diabetes isn't associated with obesity. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
You need insulin shots every day: Type 1 diabetics do require insulin therapy, but this can be delivered using insulin pumps. Type 2 can be treated and even reversed in some cases with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. In the early stages of diabetes, some patients are able to take meds. For others, there may be a need for insulin pens versus traditional injections.
People with diabetes shouldn't break a sweat: Exercise actually lowers glucose levels and improves insulin resistance. If you are overweight, losing just five to 10 percent of your weight can have significant effects on blood glucose levels. Monitor your blood sugar before exercising and again if you feel light-headed or weak. Stay hydrated and always carry a fast-acting carbohydrate like glucose tablets for hypoglycemia.
People with diabetes can't get tattoos: Get inked! As long as your diabetes is in control with an A1C under 7.5 you can get a tattoo. In fact, many people with diabetes opt for a medical alert tattoo instead of wearing a bracelet.