Two BIG Diabetes Myths

Two BIG Diabetes Myths

ONE:

Myth:

I can no longer eat carbohydrates.

Fact:

This myth is false. One of the primary goals of diabetes management is to maintain blood glucose levels within a target range. Carbohydrate is the nutrient with the greatest affect on blood glucose. For this reason, foods that contain carbohydrate are often seen as being off limits.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source. Certain organs always require glucose (carbohydrate) to function. These include the brain, red blood cells, and parts of the kidney. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates is 130 grams per day.

Examples of foods that contain carbohydrates are grains (pasta, bread, rice), fruit, milk, starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn), legumes, snack foods and desserts. Snack foods and desserts are typically high in calories and low in nutrients. While those types of carbohydrates should be limited, carbohydrates such as whole grains, fresh fruit, low fat milk, and legumes should make a regular appearance in your diet.

The 2015 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes advises carbohydrate intake from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and dairy products be consumed over intake from other carbohydrate sources, especially those that contain added fats, sugars, or sodium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that one-half of grain consumption should be from whole grains. Whole grains include such foods as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.

Blood glucose control is often improved when carbohydrate intake is spread evenly throughout the day. Most people do well when consuming approximately 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate at each meal and 15 grams of carbohydrate or less as part of snacks (snacks are optional).

Take home point:

Carbohydrates play an important role in our diet. Choose carbohydrate foods that are whole, fresh and minimally processed. Avoid eating excessive carbohydrates at one meal and then eating no carbohydrates at another meal. Blood glucose control is typically better when carbohydrates are spread evenly throughout the day.

TWO:

Myth:

I can’t have sugar.

Fact:

This myth is false. Sugar includes glucose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar), and lactose. Sugar in food can be either natural (lactose in milk) or added (sucrose). Carbohydrates, when digested, are broken down by the body into sugar (glucose).

Nutrition labels show the total grams of sugar per serving. This amount reflects both natural and added sugar. Many foods high in sugar are often calorie dense and low in overall nutritional value. While it is a healthy choice to avoid excessive intakes of added sugar, research has shown that sugar does not impact blood glucose more than starches do.

The 2015 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes advises: While substituting sucrose (sugar) containing foods for similar amounts of other carbohydrates may have similar blood glucose effects, consumption should be minimized to avoid displacing other nutrient-dense food choices. The 2015 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes also recommends that people with diabetes (and those at risk for diabetes) limit or avoid intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (regular pop) to reduce risk for weight gain and worsening of cardio-metabolic risk profile.

Take home point:

Moderation is key! When comparing nutrition labels choose the food item that contains less sugar grams per serving. If the sugars grams are greater than half the total carbohydrate grams, consider limiting intake of that food or choosing an alternative food item. Have a sweet craving? Try eating foods with natural sugars such as fresh fruit or low fat yogurt.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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