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Debunking myths about diet and diabetes

Who hasn't heard far-fetched "facts" about diet and diabetes? These days, with the barrage of information coming at us from all sides, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. In this article, we take a closer look at 8 of the most common and persistent dietary myths.

Myth 1: Diabetes skips a generation

False. Unfortunately, diabetes does not discriminate. Family history is actually one of the main risk factors for the disease.

Myth 2: Diabetes can be cured

False. While there is no cure, diabetes can be managed. By following the appropriate treatment and adopting a healthy lifestyle, people living with diabetes can avoid complications.

Myth 3: All overweight people will eventually develop type 2 diabetes

False. Surplus weight is one risk factor for diabetes, but there are many others. Lots of people living with type 2 diabetes have a healthy weight, and lots of overweight people will never live with diabetes. 

Myth 4: People living with diabetes have to eat food products designed especially for them

False. Generally speaking, the recommended diet for people living with diabetes is no different from what is recommended for anyone else—that is to say low in salt, sugar and fat (especially saturated and trans fats) and high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Food products designed for people living with diabetes generally cost more and don’t provide any concrete advantages when it comes to controlling blood sugar.

Myth 5: People living with diabetes can’t have sweets or chocolate

False. People living with diabetes can still enjoy sweets. But they should talk about it with their doctor or pharmacist, keep their portions small, and combine “sweet breaks” with an exercise plan and a healthy diet. Sugar substitutes are also a good way to satisfy that sweet tooth without throwing blood sugar levels out of whack.

Myth 6: People living with diabetes are more likely to develop colds, flus and other illnesses

False. However, it is recommended that people living with diabetes get their flu vaccination because the flu, like the common cold, does make it harder to regulate blood sugar and can lead to complications.

Myth 7: If a doctor prescribes you insulin, this is a sign that you haven’t managed your type 2 diabetes well enough

False. Diabetes is usually a gradual disease. In the early stages, it can often be managed with oral medication, but over time the body produces less and less of its own insulin, which may eventually result in the need for insulin therapy. In this case, you have to look at the treatment as a way to help, not a failure on your part.

Myth 8: All fats should be avoided

False. Fats are essential for proper functioning of the body, including digestion and vitamin absorption—especially for vitamins A, D, E and K. If you want to prevent fatty tissue from accumulating on your thighs, hips or belly, it’s a matter of managing calories and portion size.


What’s the bottom line?

The rise of the Internet and social media has been a great boon for diet myths. The best way to avoid being misled is to be critical of what you hear... and get the facts!



American Diabetes Association (n.d). The path of understanding diabetes starts here. Retrieved from: Accessed August 13 2020.

Unlock Food (n.d). Take the diabetes quiz. Retrieved from: Accessed August 13 2020.

Unlock Food (2018). Facts on Fats. Retrieved from: Accessed August 13 2020.


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