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5 Myths About Diabetes

Today more than 25 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million have pre-diabetes. Yes, you read those statistics correctly! The ever increasing numbers of people with diabetes or pre-diabetes is staggering. Despite the fact that there is much attention focused on this disease, myths continue to abound.

Here are 5 commonly held beliefs are simply NOT true. After all, when it comes to diabetes, having accurate facts is critical.

Myth #1: People with diabetes need to go on a special diet that excludes all sugar and sweets.

Fact: Sugar and sweets will raise your blood sugar, but people with diabetes or pre-diabetes can safely consume small to moderate amounts of sugar as a part of their meal plan. The trick is to make sure your blood glucose is in correct range. Portions of all foods, sweets especially, need to be appropriate. Your best bet is to eat a variety of healthy foods and save the sweets or sugar for special occasions.

While we are on the subject of sugar and sweets, it’s important to understand that consuming foods with sugar does not cause diabetes, but can contribute to poor diabetes control.

Myth #2: Type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1 diabetes

Fact: Type 2 diabetes is often treated with healthy diet and exercise, while type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Some people interpret this to mean that type 2 is a less serious form of diabetes. Those who believe this myth might not take good care of themselves and that is serious. Any type of diabetes needs to be taken seriously because diabetes (or pre-diabetes) has the potential to cause other complications or health problems.

Myth #3: Some people just have “borderline” diabetes or “a little sugar.”

Fact: There is no such thing as borderline diabetes: you either have it or you don’t. If your fasting blood glucose readings are greater than 126 mg/dl., or your random blood glucose is above 200 gm/dl. on at least two occasions, then you have diabetes. A fasting glucose reading between 100-125 mg/dl. is interpreted as “prediabetes.”

Myth #4: Only overweight people have diabetes.

Fact: There are many people with diabetes who are overweight or obese, but some people with the condition aren’t overweight at all. There are some individuals who are slender and may have a lesser known type of diabetes called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). The facts? Diabetes doesn’t discriminate: slender people can have it too.

Myth #5: People who follow their treatment plan like they are supposed to; never have high blood sugar readings.

Fact: Unfortunately, this is not true. Even those who are vigilant and follow their treatment plan can still experience periods of poor diabetes control. Factors such as stress, pain, infection, illness, medications, exercise, or a change in diet can alter blood sugar. Diabetes is a condition that can progress, so it’s important to understand that the state of one’s diabetes can change. What used to work well in the past may no longer keep diabetes under control.

What’s the take away here? Knowing the facts and, of course, taking care of your diabetes. Be particular about where you receive your diabetes information. Two ways to get reliable information is by consulting with a Certified Diabetes Educator, or contacting the American Diabetes Association. There’s lots of information out there from well-meaning individuals, but some of it may be misinformation. Being well informed is the first step toward managing diabetes and achieving optimal health!

About The Author

Gretchen Scalpi

Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

Author and Certified Wellcoach®

Gretchen has worked with hundreds of clients in her own private nutrition practice since 2002, providing nutrition and wellness coaching in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, and general wellness.

Gretchen opened her wellness coaching and private nutrition practice in 2002 and has expanded to two office locations in New York.

Gretchen provides lectures and workshops on a variety of nutrition topics to corporate and community groups. She is the author of the Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance at Health and The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Prediabetes.

For more information on Gretchen, visit