November is American Diabetes Month, and a good time to sort fact from fiction regarding this serious disease.
Here are three common diabetes myths — debunked, with the help of Nutrisystem Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) and Courtney McCormick, dietitian for Nutrisystem.
Myth: I’m a healthy weight — I can’t get diabetes.
Fact: Although there’s a clear connection between being overweight or obese and developing type 2 diabetes, genetics and other lifestyle factors can also play a role.
Prediabetes can sometimes be an early-stage development of type 2 diabetes, and its risk factors (other than weight) include:
• Polycystic ovary syndrome: Fairly common in women, stay attuned to symptoms such as increased hair growth, weight gain and an inconsistent menstrual cycle.
• Older age: Prediabetes risk increases after age 45, according to the Mayo Clinic.
• Family medical history: A family history of blood sugar-related health complications increases prediabetes risk.
• Gestational diabetes: Women who experience gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy) are more likely to develop prediabetes. Additionally, if your baby weighed more than nine pounds at birth, you’re at greater risk, according to the Mayo Clinic. Men, aren’t off the hook. This increased risk extends to the children of women who had gestational diabetes.
• Inadequate sleep: Certain conditions causing sleep disruptions can be a recipe for insulin resistance.
Myth: People develop diabetes because they eat too much sugar.
Fact: Although consuming excess calories can contribute to being overweight, which is associated with type 2 diabetes, sugar is not the singular cause of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the result of genetics and additional unknown factors and type 2 diabetes is the result of a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.
Myth: If I have diabetes, I can’t have carbs or dessert.
Fact: Generally speaking, individuals with diabetes can follow the same healthy diet recommended for the general public and can even enjoy sweet treats in small portions on special occasions.
Carbs are a necessary part of a healthy meal plan. Just pay attention to portions. Optimal carbohydrate counts will vary by person, but the American Diabetes Association recommends starting with 45-60 grams per meal, and tweaking depending on how your body responds.
Some good carbs to consider? Whole grain breads, pastas, rice and cereals, plus starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn. Fruits, beans, milk and yogurt also count toward daily carbohydrates. On the Nutrisystem D plan, which is designed for people living with type 2 diabetes, milk and yogurt are considered “PowerFuels,” even though they provide some carbohydrates. Many people are advised to enjoy these foods with fruit to prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia.
It’s important to have a good understanding of the risks, causes and precautions associated with diabetes. Although preventative measures can’t be taken against type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, research suggests that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by:
• Losing seven percent of your body weight
• Exercising moderately 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Eat well, be well and know your risk factors for diabetes, this month, and every month of the year!