10 Diabetes Diet Myths
Myth 3: Carbohydrates Are Bad for Diabetes
In fact, carbohydrates -- or "carbs" as most of us refer to them -- are good for diabetes. They form the foundation of a healthy diabetes diet -- or of any healthy diet.
Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels, which is why you are asked to monitor how many carbohydrates you eat when following a diabetes diet.
However, carbohydrate foods contain many essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So one diabetes diet tip is to choose those with the most nutrients, such as whole-grain breads and baked goods, and high-fiber fruits and vegetables. You may find it easier to select the best carbs if you meet with a dietitian.
Myth 4: Protein is Better than Carbohydrates for Diabetes.
Because carbs affect blood sugar levels so quickly, if you have diabetes, you may be tempted to eat less of them and substitute more protein. But too much protein may lead to problems for people with diabetes.
The main problem is that many foods rich in protein, such as meat, may also be filled with saturated fat. Eating too much of these fats increases your risk of heart disease. In a diabetes diet, protein should account for about 15% to 20% of the total calories you eat each day.
Myth 5: You Can Adjust Your Diabetes Drugs to "Cover" Whatever You Eat.
If you use insulin for your diabetes, you may learn how to adjust the amount and type you take to match the amount of food you eat. But this doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want, then just use more drugs to stabilize your blood sugar level.
If you use other types of diabetes drugs, don't try to adjust your dose to match varying levels of carbohydrates in your meals unless instructed by your doctor. Most diabetes medications work best when they are taken consistently as directed by your doctor.
Myth 6: You'll Need to Give Up Your Favorite Foods.
There is no reason to give up your favorite foods on a diabetes diet. Instead, try:
- Changing the way your favorite foods are prepared
- Changing the other foods you usually eat along with your favorite foods
- Reducing the serving sizes of your favorite foods
- Using your favorite foods as a reward for following your meal plans
A dietitian can help you find ways to include your favorites in your diabetes meal plans.
Myth 7: You Have to Give Up Desserts if You Have Diabetes.
Not true! You can develop many strategies for including desserts in a diabetes diet. Here are some examples:
- Use artificial sweeteners in desserts.
- Cut back on the amount of dessert. For example, instead of two scoops of ice cream, have one. Or share a dessert with a friend.
- Use desserts as an occasional reward for following your diabetes diet plan.
- Make desserts more nutritious. For example, use whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetable oil when preparing desserts. Many times, you can use less sugar than a recipe calls for without sacrificing taste or consistency.
- Expand your dessert horizons. Instead of ice cream, pie, or cake, try fruit, a whole-wheat oatmeal-raisin cookie, or yogurt.