As mentioned in Part One of the Diabetes Series, Type 2 diabetes affects 90% of the population of diabetics making it the most common form of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors that include diet and exercise, however genetics also play a role in your risk of developing it. Type 2 Diabetes develops slowly and although is more common in adults, it can also affect children.
What Happens in the Body?
With Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin that the body needs, or the insulin is not working effectively enough to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells. As a result, the sugar stays in the blood and the body cannot make enough of the energy that it needs.
Someone with high blood sugar in the short-term may experience feeling:
Extremely weak, tied and drained or lack of energy
Trouble with concentrating
Frequent urinating as the body will attempt to get the excess sugar out in some other way.
If the blood sugar levels stay high for long periods of time, other long-term complications may arise.
Issues with kidneys
Changes to blood vessels in the eyes
Hardening of arteries
Damage to nerves
And poor circulation to the feet
5 Myths You May Have Heard About Diabetes:
Myth #1 Eating sugar causes diabetes
For some reason many people seem to believe that if you eat “too much sugar” you increase your risk of diabetes. This is seen in many tasteless jokes in current pop culture, as someone may refer to a box of doughnuts or to something similar as “a box of diabetes”.
Treating yourself to a sweet dessert does not put you at in increased risk of diabetes. Rather its is not following a healthy and nutritious meal plan and/or exercising regularly for an extended period of time that may increase your risk. Having other risk factors present like having pre-diabetes or having a close family member with Type 2 diabetes also adds to the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Myth #2 Only sweet foods have sugar in it
Our bodies break down all types carbohydrates to use as energy in the form of sugar. While all foods that contain carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar, this does not mean that all of these foods taste sweet. Foods such as pasta, rice, grains and potatoes, (which contain a form of carbohydrate starch) all don’t taste sweet but are ultimately broken down into sugar and used in the body. Choosing these types of carbohydrates called complex carbohydrates are better for your body versus another type of carbohydrate called simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates such as candies and soda raise your blood sugar quickly and usually don’t contain other beneficial nutrients. Complex carbs will raise blood sugar slowly, and will usually contain other good-for-you nutrients such as fibre.
Myth #3 I can never eat rice again now that I have diabetes
Rice is one of those non-sweet carbohydrate foods than can affect your blood sugar. Some may have heard that its better to completely cut out those foods in order to manage your blood sugar, and this is not true. Cutting out certain carbohydrates may actually do more harm than good. Especially for someone of an Arab or South Asian background, foods like bread and rice are present at pretty much almost every meal, and it’s hard to imagine eating a meal without them. Rather than cutting them out, try choosing the better option and taking the time to understand the right portion sizes.
A good method to follow is the “Eat Well Plate” model. This highlights a visual of:
Half your plate as vegetables and fruits
A quarter of your plate as meat and/or alternatives protein source
A quarter of your plate as grains and starches, which can include rice
Although your plate won’t look exactly like this at every meal, having each of every category is key, so look for recipes that include everything like this salad in a jar recipe!
When choosing grains and starches, it’s important to focus on nutrients like fibre as mentioned in the first part of the series. Among other things, fibre is known to help with blood sugar control. Try selecting whole grains over refined grains so you don’t ever have to completely cut anything out and miss out on foods you love!
Myth #4 I can never eat sweet desserts again now that I have diabetes
Similar to the rice, you don’t have to completely cut out the foods you love! Diabetes is all about portion control and choosing the healthier option when you can. If you’re at a party or a special event, it’s okay to enjoy a sweet dessert with everyone else as long as you are still conscious of portion control. For example skipping the carbs (like rice or potatoes) at the meal when you know you’ll be treating yourself to the dessert. It’s also very important to be aware of how you’ve been treating and managing your diabetes (i.e. with medication or insulin) to ensure you stay in control when you deviate from your regular diet.
Myth # 5 Diabetes will always lead to further complications there’s no hope
While poor diabetes management can lead to serious long-term complications, this doesn’t always happen and is not definite once you become diagnosed with diabetes. Paying attention to diet and exercise is very important to ensure your diabetes is well managed, and to prevent any other health issues. When first diagnosed with diabetes, it can be an emotional shock that seems scary and too hard to manage. However with time, the changes to healthier eating and healthier lifestyle options will become much easier. Working closely with your health care professional and dietitian can make understanding and managing your diabetes simple and effortless in your daily life.
Let me know what other myths you may have heard about diabetes in the comments below!
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