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Diet for Diabetes: Some Common Myths

Myth: Carbohydrates are “bad. Avoid them.

Fact: Carbohydrates are an integral part of any diet, including the diabetic diet. Carbohydrate-rich foods provide energy (calories), vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. You are asked to monitor your carbohydrate intake because carbohydrate has more of an impact on blood glucose levels than either fat or protein. Carbohydrate is found in starches, fruits, vegetables, and milk, making it very difficult to eliminate from the diet. Some carbohydrates are better than others. Whole grains are always a better choice than refined carbohydrates, but you can incorporate all carbohydrates into a healthful meal plan.

Myth: You can never, ever eat another cookie.

Fact: All foods are “allowed” on the carbohydrate counting plan. You can work any food into the plan, in moderation. Of course, many foods are better choices than cookies on a daily basis, but you can still eat an occasional cookie.

Myth: You will need to prepare “special meals” for yourself.

Fact: You can eat with your friends and family. You may need to monitor your portion size or make wise choices when a varied selection of food is available, but you can eat the same meals as anyone else, as long as you have planned for it. You can eat in restaurants, sit down at home with your family, or attend parties/events with buffets. Once you have dedicated yourself to the idea of integrating your diet into your current lifestyle, you can choose from many options of where and what to eat.

Myth: You need to buy “sugar-free” foods.

Fact: “Sugar free” does not mean “carbohydrate free.” Many sugar-free foods contain as many, or more, carbohydrates as “regular” versions. Your best bet is to carefully scrutinize all food labels. Remember that 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates equals 1 carbohydrate choice. It does not matter, for the sake of carbohydrate counting, what form those 15 g of carbohydrate come in—natural sugar, added sugar, grain, etc.

Myth: As long as you count carbohydrates, you can eat as much protein and fat as you want.

Fact: Unfortunately, people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This is why it is so important not to focus exclusively on carbohydrate intake. The amount and type of fat that you consume is also very important to your health.

Tips provided by Saundra Gaskey, Registered Dietitian & Director of Nutrition Services at Hale Makua Health Services

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