The 3 Most Common Questions I’m Asked as a CDCES
When working with type 2 diabetes patients, I receive many of the same questions related to diabetes care.
Common questions I'm asked as a diabetes educator
Here are the top three:
What should I eat?
There’s a common misconception that someone with diabetes needs to eat drastically different than someone without diabetes. There’s also a misconception that you have to be extreme in your eating patterns to be healthy with diabetes. It can be a pretty scary and overwhelming experience when you get sucked into these misconceptions. It may make you feel like you can’t eat. Or, that eating will cause harm to your body.
In reality, you can (and should) eat all different types of food. The best thing you can do for your diabetes management is to learn how different foods affect your blood sugars. And, instead of thinking about WHAT you eat, give yourself simplicity and flexibility by approaching eating patterns this way:
- HOW are you eating (Are you eating from all food groups at each meal?)
- WHEN are you eating (Are going long periods without eating and then binging?)
- WHY are you eating (Are you hungry, or just tired or bored?)
I’ve met many folks who get the news they have diabetes followed by this advice from their provider “but if you lose some weight, it’ll go away”. Such mixed messaging can be confusing - do you have diabetes, or not? The truth is, there is no cure for diabetes.
Products that claim this are often flagged by the FDA.1 Research that focuses on diabetes reversal often has a number of flaws and is typically full of weight bias. Diabetes and its development is something that happens over time. Your body’s ability to make insulin declines over time.2 This process is sped up in diabetes and is influenced by at least eleven different malfunctions or dysregulations. Proper treatment and good self-care can slow these changes in your body, or stall them for some time, but it cannot reverse or cure diabetes.2
Am I going to lose my legs (i.e. develop complications)?
The fear of complications is very real. Seeing family members or friends develop complications can feed into this fear. However, you may be overestimating your risk for complications, because research indicates many people with diabetes do so.3 Thankfully, research also gives clues for minimizing your complication risk. The importance is multi-layered.
Things like routine medical check-ups, using medications consistently, exercising routinely, and eating heart-healthy foods, are all important for PREVENTING complications. But they are just as important for MINIMIZING damage if complications do develop. For example, kidney health. Routine check-ups monitor your A1c, blood pressure, cholesterol, and urine protein levels. If these become unhealthy, action is taken to help return these levels to healthier ranges to PREVENT kidney damage. If your body does go on to develop kidney damage, certain treatments or medications can be used to protect the kidneys from further damage. In short, complications are not an absolute in diabetes. For ways to decrease your risk for diabetes complications, check out this great list from Mayo Clinic.
Do you like to eat grilled cheese sandwiches?