Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diabetes Awareness - Myth #1

People with Diabetes Can't Eat Sugar

I have had diabetes since 1986. I was 4 years old. Things were so different at that time when it came to diabetes care. I believe that this time period (and the many years before it) were the reason that many people believe that people with diabetes can't have food or drink that contain refined sugar. At that time, the understanding of how foods effect blood sugar were very different than what they are now.

Here's where the myth busting comes in:


Yup. You read that right. I have Type 1 diabetes. I take insulin to stay alive. And I CAN have sugar.
A healthy person eats all types of food. The foods that cause blood sugar to rise are foods that contain carbohydrates. There are other things that can cause blood sugar to rise, but I'm only addressing on myth at a time.
If you look on a food label, there are things broken down. Fat, Calories, Sodium, Carbohydrates. At a very basic level, foods that have carbohydrates are things like grains, fruits, and sugars. When a healthy person eats something with carbohydrates, their body produces insulin to turn the carbohydrates into energy for the body.
A person with diabetes either doesn't produce insulin, or the insulin is not used properly by the body. Because of this, people with diabetes have to take insulin (for those living with Type 1 or Type 2) or pills (for those living with Type 2) to help their body turn the carbohydrates into energy.
It is true that a person living with diabetes may chose to refrain from some types of carbohydrates in order to control their blood sugar levels easier, but overall, a person with diabetes can eat any type of carbohydrate as long as there is insulin (or other medication) to cover the body's need to turn the carb into energy.
A fact that many people that do not live with, or care for someone who lives with diabetes is that a regular sized snickers bar has 35 grams of carbs. There is right around that same amount of carbohydrates in two slices of regular loaf bread. Obviously, for anyone with or without diabetes, the bread is probably a healthier choice. But the fact remains, that I would give the same amount of insulin for either of these items.
I won't get into all the boring details, but some carbohydrates do digest and effect the blood sugar differently. And it's different for every person. I typically avoid pizza and cereal because I have a harder time covering these types of carbs with insulin. I have a friend who chooses to avoid pasta. I try to cut down on my rice intake.
Each person living with diabetes should eat in a healthy should the person who does not have diabetes. Sure, you shouldn't eat sweets all the time. No matter who you are. But don't look at a person living with diabetes and tell them that they shouldn't eat that cupcake. If treating yourself to a cupcake every once in a while is okay, let the person living with diabetes decide if it is a good time for them to treat themselves.
We'll make a deal with you: You don't tell us what to eat, and we won't tell you what to eat.
And now you know the truth: People living with diabetes CAN eat sweets!


Jeff said...

Preach it, sister!

shannon said...


Colleen said...

Well done, Cara!
ps - Sorry your cake pops didn't work. Hope you'll try again.