Juvenile Diabetes Foundation

(Maharashtra Chapter)

Diet

Myth:

It is okay to eat sweets if your blood sugar is too low.

Fact:

Low blood sugar isn’t an excuse to eat extra junk food. 

Hypoglycemia, typically blood glucose less than 70 mg/dl, should not be treated with so much sugar that you “super-spike” your blood glucose. 

You're just trading one problem for another.

Here’s the American Diabetes Association's (ADA) advice on treating low blood sugar, which is followed by most doctors globally:

  • Wait 15 minutes after treatment before eating anything else.
  • If your blood glucose is still low, consume another 15 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Recheck your blood glucose in another 15 minutes.
  • Once your symptoms are gone and your blood glucose is above 70 mg/dl, you may still need a snack if your next meal is a while away.

If you don’t have a preferred treatment food, use any carbohydrate-rich food.

Myth:

People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact:

There is no such thing as “DIABETIC FOOD.” A healthy diet for a person with diabetes is typically identical to a healthy diet for anyone else. It should include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and moderate amounts of healthier fats such as those found in olive oil. And yes, people with diabetes can still enjoy sweets as long as they work them into their meal plan carefully, eat them infrequently and in small doses. “Diabetic” and “dietetic (nutritious)” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive, and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth:

Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact:

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells (pancreatic beta cells in islets of Langerhans), which is not related to consumption of sugar. While continually munching on sweets can help trigger diabetes in someone with a tendency to be diagnosed with diabetes, it does not directly lead to diabetes. (Weight gain, however, is a major risk factor.)

Myth:

You can eat everything you want as long as you take your medication.

Fact:

The increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and foods rich in saturated fats increases the risk of diabetic complications, even if you receive a higher dose of medication.

Myth:

There are cures for diabetes, but doctors and the government aren’t telling anyone.

Fact:

No matter what you may hear or see on the Internet, there is no cure for diabetes as yet. Many scientists and researchers have dedicated their careers to finding a cure for diabetes, and they've made many advances in diabetes research. But the only way to manage diabetes now is to take insulin and medications as prescribed, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of physical activity, and check blood sugar levels regularly. Until there really is a cure for diabetes, do your best to manage your child's diabetes with the tools available now.

Treatment Alternatives

Myth:

Insulin cures diabetes.

Fact:

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and diabetes is not a curable disease. Insulin helps in utilizing the glucose in the body to be used for producing energy. This helps in keeping the blood sugar levels under control, but taking insulin doesn't correct the underlying cause.

Myth:

Tablets or pills for diabetes are a form of insulin.

Fact:

Diabetes medicines taken orally are not a form of insulin. Insulin is a protein that would be broken down or destroyed by the acids and digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestines if taken orally. Insulin is delivered via injections, inhalers or patches but not orally. Currently there is no other practical way to deliver insulin except via injections, although researchers are working on ways to give insulin by mouth, in the nose, or inhaling it into the lungs. In case of pills they are given to in order to help body make more insulin or to make use of insulin more effectively. But pills for diabetes cannot help people with type 1 diabetes because the cells that produce insulin are destroyed and hence they are no longer able to make insulin.

Myth:

Artificial Sweeteners are dangerous for people with diabetes.

Fact:

Artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than the equivalent amount of sugar, so it takes less of them to get the same sweetness found in sugar. This can result in eating fewer calories than when you do use sugar.

The American Diabetes Association approves the use of several artificial sweeteners in diabetes diets, including:

  • Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

A dietician can help you determine which sweeteners are best for which uses, whether in coffee, baking, cooking, or other uses.

Myth:

If I stop eating sugar, my diabetes will go away.

Fact:

Stopping eating sugar will help in controlling a diabetic state, not cure it.

Personal & Professional Life

Myth:

People with diabetes cannot engage in athletics.

Fact:

People with diabetes can surely engage in athletics. There are countless examples of athletes who have had great success from the Olympic gold medalist swimmer Gary Hall to the famous baseball player Ron Santo to the great cricketer close to our home, Wasim Akram. To read more success stories over the world and even within JDF, click here.

Myth:

Insulin means that my life will change.

Fact:

Many people believe that once they start insulin, they can no longer be independent, live alone, travel, or eat away from home. None of these is true. With planning, there is no reason why you cannot do everything you did before.

Actually, many people find that their lives do change with insulin—for the better. They have more energy, have more flexibility in their schedule, and feel more positive about themselves. Your life becomes discipline and a disciplined life is always good.

Myth:

Diabetics cannot marry.

Fact:

Past records within the JDF itself does not show that most JDs above the age of 30 are married, and they are even blessed with non-diabetic children. To look up a list of JDs that have married other JDs or non-JDs, click here.

Diabetes & Complications

Myth:

Taking more insulin means your diabetes is getting worse.

Fact:

Insulin doses need to be continuously adjusted to help keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Many factors affect blood sugar levels, including, diet, exercise, and timing. In addition, insulin doses may need to be changed over time. At the time of diagnosis, the pancreas may still be able to make some insulin, so less injected insulin may be needed. However, as the pancreas makes less and less insulin, more insulin needs to be given via injection to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. How fast children are growing, whether they're undergoing puberty, how much they eat, and how active they are affect the amount of insulin needed each day. Therefore, insulin doses are required to be continuously adjusted to help a person keep his or her blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Your doctor will guide you with the right insulin dosages.

Myth:

A person with diabetes will eventually get complications.

Fact:

Complications are not inevitable. Good diabetic control can help in preventing complications.

Myth:

Diabetic individuals will have decreased life expectancy.

Fact:

Diabetic individuals with well controlled diabetes can have a normal life expectancy like a non-diabetic individual. In fact, because children with diabetes begin to take care of their health from usually a very young age, they are more health-conscious than most non-diabetic individuals, thereby having higher chances of living a longer life.

Monitoring

Other Myths

Myth:

If parents have diabetes, their children are bound to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Fact:

Not necessarily. Diabetes is only partially hereditary.

Myth:

Women with diabetes cannot and should not get pregnant.

Fact:

Women with diabetes can get pregnant, but this requires strict blood sugar control during pregnancy.

Myth:

It is possible to have just ‘slight’ diabetes.

Fact:

There is no such thing as ‘slight’ diabetes. Either you will have diabetes or you won’t. Any diabetic condition (type-1 or type-2) demands medical attention and careful lifestyle choices.