Debunking 10 myths about diabetes

What’s the truth about diabetes? In today’s episode we look at the top 10 myths about diabetes and you might want to share with all of your non-diabetic friends and family!

  1. People with Diabetes can’t eat sugar.
  2. There is no difference between Type 1 and Type 2
  3. Diabetes comes from eating too much sugar.
  4. Diabetes isn’t that serious or is a ‘mild’ condition.
  5. You have to be overweight to be Diabetic.
  6. Insulin cures Diabetes.
  7. If nobody in your family has Diabetes then you aren’t at risk.
  8. If you have Diabetes you can’t have children.
  9. Diabetics have to eat ‘special’ food.
  10. Diabetics should limit the amount of exercise they do.

Missed anything in todays diabetic and healthy podcast? View the podcast transcript below to get the full show notes.

Life with diabetes has some highs and lows, but just like in a normal life, you can make choices which help to make your life easier, improve your health and wellbeing. In the Diabetic and Healthy podcast, we show you how to do just that. We're here to help you put your diabetes worries behind so that you can start enjoying life with a sky high smile on your face. So let's meet our host for today's show here's Charlotte.

Charlotte: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Diabetic and Healthy podcast. As always I hope everyone is doing well. So if you have diabetes, this is an episode that you may definitely want to share with your non-diabetic friends and family, because this week I'm going to be debunking 10 diabetes myths. And I'm going to explain if there is actually any truth behind them.

So if you're bored of explaining to people that, no, you didn't get diabetes from eating too much sugar, and yes, you can actually eat anything that they can eat. Then make sure you share the heck out of this episode. So I'll get started.

Myth number one. People with diabetes can't eat sugar. So this is a really common one. There's still many people that believe if you have diabetes, you have to eat a sugar-free diet. So people with any type of diabetes need to eat a balanced diet, which does indeed include sugar. Also there maybe times when we have hypos, which means our blood sugars drop too low. And the way to treat those, is to consume sugar. So totally untrue.

Number two. There's no difference between type one and type two. So although both type one and type two diabetes relate to issues with insulin. They're actually both really different conditions in terms of the causes who they affect and how they're managed. Out of every person with diabetes, about 90% has a type two and about 8% have type one. And though my math isn't that awful. There are other types of diabetes, but for this I'm just talking about type one and type two.

So I'm going to try and outline the main differences as simply as I can. People who have type one don't produce any insulin, it's actually an auto immune condition, which means your body attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, which leaves it unable to produce any insulin. In type two diabetes it's normally a case of your body not being able to produce enough insulin or that insulin that they are making doesn't work properly.

We still don't ray really know what causes type one. Some scientists believe it can be triggered by certain viruses, but there's still nothing really conclusive as to the main cause. There are several things that can put you more at risk of developing type two diabetes, including genetics and lifestyle factors, for example, you're at higher risk of developing type two. If you're over 45, you have a family history of diabetes and you are also overweight. Due to the fact that people with type one produced no insulin at all. We have to inject insulin to control our blood sugar levels.

People with type two diabetes can usually control their condition with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. However, in some cases they may also have to take insulin. There's no cure yet for type one. In some cases, type two can be put into remission with a right lifestyle changes. So hopefully that explains the differences quite clearly.

So myth number three. Diabetes comes from eating too much sugar. I'm going to be really honest. When I was diagnosed with type one, I knew nothing about diabetes and I actually thought this was true, and that I had given myself diabetes by eating too many sugary foods. It's actually completely false. So eating too much sugar does not directly cause any kind of diabetes. However, having a diet that is too high in refined sugar can often lead onto becoming overweight, which does put you at high risk of developing type two.

Myth number four. Diabetes isn't that serious or diabetes is a mild condition. So I personally think this one comes from the fact that diabetes is an invisible illness. So you could meet people every day that have diabetes and unless they chose to tell you that they have it, you wouldn't necessarily know. Yes, you can absolutely live a full and healthy life with diabetes. However, if it isn't managed correctly, it can lead to very serious and life changing complications. It's also a condition that has to be managed day in, day out with no time off. So I would say it is a serious condition.

Number five. You have to be overweight to be diabetic. So the amount of times I've been told I don't look diabetic or asked if I used to be fat, which is a charming question. As previously mentioned, yes, being overweight can increase your chances of developing type two diabetes. However, you don't have to be overweight to have any kind of diabetes.

Number six. Insulin cures diabetes. Insulin is not a cure for diabetes. If you have type one, insulin literally keeps you alive, but it does not cure the condition. So we inject insulin to replicate what our bodies should be doing for themselves. And somebody that doesn't have diabetes each time they eat, their pancreas creates just the right amount of insulin to convert their food into energy.

If you have type one diabetes, you can't produce the insulin yourself. So instead you have to do a calculation when you eat anything that contains any kind of carbohydrate and you can't feel the correct amount to cover, what you are eating and you either inject fat or some people have an insulin pump.

Number seven. If nobody in your family has diabetes, you're not at risk. This, unfortunately isn't the case. I, for one and the only person in my family has type one. Yes, if type two runs in your family, then again, that does put you at an increased risk of developing it, but anyone can develop diabetes, whether it runs in your family or not.

Number eight. If you have diabetes, you can't have children. So once upon a time, this was true before we knew everything that we know now and before we had accurate medication and technology to help manage diabetes, then yes, it wasn't recommended for someone with diabetes to have children. Mainly because of the complications it can create with the unborn baby, if the mother's blood sugars weren't under good control. However, nowadays there is absolutely no reason that someone who has diabetes can't have children.

It does take a lot of extra planning and working really closely with your diabetes medical team and it does mean that you have to make sure your blood sugars are under really tight control throughout the pregnancy. But if you want children, obviously all that hard work is more than worth it.

Number nine. Diabetics have to eat special food. Completely untrue. Again, a diabetic diet is a balanced, healthy diet. There used to be a lot of foods labeled as diabetic, like diabetic chocolate. If anyone ever tried that, not only did it not taste great, but it tends to give you awful stomach ache. And quite often all the sweeteners have a laxative effect. We won't go into that too much, but you get the idea. I'm pretty sure they're actually not allowed to call something a diabetic food anymore. So no, there's no special food for diabetics after we eat.

So last but not least number 10. Diabetics should limit the amount of exercise they do. Nope. Also, completely untrue. Exercise is one of the most important things that you can do no matter what kind of diabetes you have. So agreed, you shouldn't go from not to a hundred in your first week of getting into exercise, but you can build up your exercise regime bit by bit to as much as you like, as long as you monitor your blood sugars closely.

There are so many benefits to both diabetes and health in general. So it's actually worse not to exercise. Okay. So I really hope, that's been helpful. Maybe if you're newly diagnosed and have heard a lot of these myths and were unsure if they were true and this will help to put your mind at rest. I can remember when I was diagnosed, one of my first thoughts, which pretty much sums me up was, "Oh my gosh." I'm going to say, "I can't eat chocolate."

And I'm such a chocolate lover, if that would have been an absolute nightmare. But I was very relieved to learn actually I could still pretty much eat whatever I wanted to really. It's just a case of being sensible and managing your blood sugars around it. So if you want family and friends to understand more about diabetes, especially if you are fed up of hearing things like, "Should you be eating that?" Make sure you share this episode on your social media.

If you've enjoyed this episode yourselves, please do leave a review and remember to hit subscribe, so that you never miss a future episode. So until next time take care and stay safe.

Speaker 1: This episode has ended, but your journey towards a healthy and happy life continues. Head on over to and join the conversation with other diabetics and their families. All the information in this episode is not designed to replace the advice from the health professional team looking after you and your diabetes. Before making any significant lifestyle changes, do consult them with your doctor.

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