November 30, 2020

Debunking common diabetes myths

November was Diabetes awareness month so I thought I’d share myths people have about diabetes I’m going to share a few of those. This includes type 1 and 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

Myth 1: all types of diabetes are the same

This is not true. There are different types of diabetes. The most common are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes Other forms of diabetes are less common (such as steroid-induced diabetes). The management plan will be different depending on the type of diabetes. Type 1 and 2 diabetes will require chronic treatment and management while gestational diabetes involves management for the shortest time as it usually goes away after the birth of the baby. However, it does significantly increase someone’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Myth #2: it’s not a big deal if your blood glucose levels are consistently high

This is not true. If your elevated blood glucose levels are left untreated, it can start to affect your major organs and blood vessels. You may not notice any differences in the early stage. So, it’s really important to follow up if you notice that your blood glucose levels are out of the target range.

In regards to gestational diabetes, researchers have found that problems associated with gestational diabetes can occur even in some of the fairly “mild” cases (such as having a baby with a large birth weight). A recent study found a significantly higher risk of congenital heart defects in babies born to women with mildly elevated blood sugar which is below the diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes.

Myth #3: I’m thin and my weight is within a healthy weight range. Therefore, I’m not at risk for developing diabetes.

This is not true. We tend to associate being overweight with diabetes. However, you don’t always have to be overweight or obese to develop diabetes. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but some people who are overweight may not develop type 2 diabetes. On the flip side, some people who are within a healthy weight range will develop type 2 diabetes.

For example, type 1 diabetes is not preventable and not associated with weight, physical inactivity or any other lifestyle factors. Studies have shown up to 50% of women with gestational diabetes don’t have any of the classic risk factors (such as being overweight prior to becoming pregnant or family history). So, it’s important to screen for gestational diabetes even if you are within a healthy weight range.

Myth 4: people with diabetes cannot eat dessert like sweets or chocolate

This is not true. A lot of people think that they need to avoid sugars and foods containing sugar because having diabetes affects your blood glucose levels. However, desserts can be eaten in moderation, as part of a healthy diet. The key to desserts is to keep your portions small and save them for special occasions. Working with an Accredited Practicing Dietitian will provide you with tailored advice that takes your goals, as well as your likes and dislikes into account.

Myth #5: if you have diabetes, you will need to be on insulin soon

Yes for type 1 diabetes. This is not true for type 2 and gestational diabetes. In the first instance, dietary and lifestyle modifications are key to managing your diabetes. This is often made in conjunction with oral medications.

However, some people may need to go on insulin over time when if their body is producing less insulin. As type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, oral medications alone may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range after some time. Having said that, it is possible to delay a person’s requirement of insulin if their diabetes is managed well.