Diabetes Myths … Busted, Part 2

I’m playing diabetes myth buster again today. Last week’s post busted two diabetes myths – one about eating fruit and another about when to measure blood sugar levels. Today’s myths are two more that I hear often from my clients and others.

Diabetes Myths about snacking on pineapple salsa and crackers

Diabetes Myth: You must eat snacks or several mini meals

Eating between meals supplies nearly one-quarter of the calories in the U.S., earning snacks the status of a fourth meal. But eating snacks when you aren’t hungry might be one of the reasons you’re not slimming down or seeing healthier blood sugar numbers. Years ago, when there were very few diabetes medications available, snacks were necessary to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low between meals. That’s no longer the case because we have so many newer medications that don’t cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). We also used to believe that snacking helped people lose weight, but science doesn’t really support that. For some people, yes, but for others, no. It’s really an individualized thing. Don’t fall for the trap that eating every few hours boosts metabolism. Over the course of 24 hours, there’s no difference if you eat the same foods over three larger meals or five or six smaller ones.

What to do: Check in with your healthcare provider to learn if your medications require you to snack. If you’re at risk for hypoglycemia, but you prefer not to snack often, ask if there are other treatment options. On the other hand, if you like a between-meal nosh, be sure to take that as an opportunity to fill in nutritional gaps. Ask yourself what you haven’t eaten enough of today. I’ll guess fruits and vegetables is the answer. Nuts and lowfat yogurt or cheese are more good choices. To see more about what science says about snacking, see an article I wrote for Food and Nutrition magazine.

Are snacks required for people with diabetes?Click To Tweet I know that you’ve got lots to keep track of when you have diabetes, so I put together a 1-year schedule of what to do when. Keep track of your appointments, tests and results.

Diabetes Myth: You need a special diet

There is no such thing as a diabetic diet. I often use the term “diabetes-friendly” to identify foods or recipes that people with diabetes may enjoy and benefit from. However, there really is no one best way to eat – whether you have diabetes or not. My clients hear me say often, “there are many ways to a healthy plate.” It’s a principle that guides all of my recommendations. I help clients individualize their diets based on their lifestyle, food preferences, medications and more. In fact, individualizing the diet is one of the basic principles set forth by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

What to do: Avoid anything so restrictive that you can’t live with it! Since carbohydrates affect blood sugar more than anything else, learn the carb counts of your favorite foods. In fact, keep a list of the foods you eat most often and their carb counts in the portions you commonly consume. Measuring your blood sugar before and after eating will help you learn the amount of carbohydrate that’s right for you. Don’t forget to balance your meals with healthy fats and proteins. There are lots of ways to do this. I’ve had clients meet their diabetes goals eating a vegan, vegetarian or omnivore’s diet. You can learn more at the ADA website, in this article on The DX or by meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist who is also a certified diabetes educator.

Check out Diabetes Myths… Busted Part 3, where I’ll talk about sugar-free desserts and saving up for big meals.

Keep track of your diabetes appointments, tests and results with this 1-year diabetes schedule.

Get Your Free Copy of a Diabetes Health Schedule

So You Know What to Do When

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. Ally Hann on November 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    What works best for me is when I plan out my meals for the week. I make three different entrees then I do not get bored with eating the same thing all week. It really makes a difference.

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 12, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      What a great idea. I always say that planning and strategies beat willpower 100% of the time.

  2. Diabetes Myths ... Busted! on November 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    […] tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of  Diabetes Myths … […]

  3. Heather Mason @NuttyNutrition on November 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    love that you debunked the snacking myth Jill! I tell people you really only need a snack or a small meal if you are hungry (in most cases) there is no reason just to pack it in for weight loss or BG control!

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 12, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Yes, it’s another one of those myths that has the potential to do the opposite of what people are trying to do. For some people, snacking increases blood glucose levels and makes weight management harder. So many myths to debunk! Thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. SeetTig on June 4, 2016 at 5:58 am

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  5. Angie I on July 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks for the info. I appreciate learning as much as I can with my new diagnosis.

    • Jill Weisenberger on July 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you! Yes, there is tons to learn. New info and strategies to implement it become very empowering.

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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