People with diabetes know that diet is a critical factor in maintaining good health and avoiding complications from the disease. But amongst all the valuable advice out there for patients with diabetes, there are still some common misconceptions about diabetes and diet, says Ginny McCadden, diabetes coordinator at Main Line Health. Below, she sheds some light on the truth behind five diabetes and diet myths.
MYTH: Bread is off-limits.
Fact: You don’t have to completely eliminate bread from your diet. Stick to small portions of bread, and choose whole grains whenever possible. Look for brown rice and pastas, and choose high-fiber options like yams, cauliflower mash or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
MYTH: You have to avoid all sugars.
Fact: Dessert doesn’t have to be off-limits, as long as it’s part of a healthy meal and you make simple substitutions to fit it into your carbohydrate budget for the day. If you’re planning on a piece of cake for dessert, skip the helping of mashed potatoes during dinner.
MYTH: You have to follow a special diet.
Fact: The basics of healthy eating are the same whether you have diabetes or not. You can eat the same foods as the rest of your family, as long as it’s in moderation. Stick to a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, healthy oils and low-fat dairy products.
MYTH: High-fat foods won’t affect blood glucose levels.
Fact: High-fat foods like butter, red meat, and cheese may not do much to affect your blood sugar levels, but they can still take their toll on your heart. Eating a fatty meal can slow digestion, make it more difficult for your insulin to take effect, and raise your cholesterol levels and cause weight gain.
MYTH: Fruit is healthy, so you can have as much of it as you want.
Fact: Fruit is a healthy food, and getting enough fruits and vegetables is important to a healthy diet. But remember: fruit does have carbohydrates, so it should be a part of your daily carbohydrate plan.
Remember that every patient is different. If you have questions about your diet, carbohydrate intake, or blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor about a referral to a diabetes educator or dietitian. They can help provide a more personalized nutrition plan for you.
Our Diabetes Management Programs are designed to help patients avoid acute and chronic conditions that can result from diabetes and to learn how to monitor and maintain ideal blood sugar levels through diet, exercise and medication. Visit our website to learn more about managing your diabetes.