Diabetes Myths … Busted!

Diabetes mythsDoes it seem like everyone wants to give you diabetes advice? Eat this, but don’t eat that. Stop eating by 7 pm. Don’t go more than four hours without eating. As both a registered dietitian nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator, I see so many overwhelmed and confused patients with diabetes. Today, I’m taking the role of diabetes myth buster. Actually, I take that role nearly every day. Today, I’ll clear up two smart-sounding but misguided recommendations. I’ll tackle several more during the month.

Diabetes Myth: You can’t eat fruit

While it’s true that fruit contains carbohydrate, and carbs raise blood sugar, it’s not true that carbs or fruit are bad for people with diabetes. Even with their natural sugars, fruits nourish your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and a host of health-boosting phytochemicals. These are the same compounds you need for good health and to prevent common complications of diabetes.

What to do: Enjoy a variety of fruits in reasonable portions. Learn the carb counts of your favorite ones and count them in your total allotment for your meal or snack.

For example, each of the following contains about 15 g carbohydrate, which is about the same as a small slice of bread.

  • apple, about the size of a tennis ball
  • 1/2 banana (about 4 inches in length)
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • medium orange
  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple (in natural juices)
  • 1 1/4 cups diced watermelon
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

If you don’t already have a meal plan tailored to your health needs and food preferences, schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist who is also a certified diabetes educator.

Get your free copy of recommended tests and appointments for people with diabetes to stay on track all year.

Diabetes Myth: The best time to measure blood sugar is before breakfast

Measuring fasting blood sugar or fasting blood glucose gives a pretty good indication of how well your diabetes medications are working and how your liver is dealing with glucose during the night. It tells us almost nothing about how your food choices affect your blood sugar.

What to do: To learn the effect of your meals and snacks, measure your blood glucose right before eating and about two hours after the first bite. The difference between the two numbers is largely the effect of the meal. Consider this: if your post-lunch reading is 200 mg/dl, you might think that it’s high because of your lunchtime choices. However, it’s quite likely that your blood glucose was high before you even started eating lunch. An after-lunch reading of 200 means something quite different if your pre-lunch measurement was 110 mg/dl than it does if you started your meal at 185 mg/dl. If your post-meal blood glucose is more than 50 or so points greater than your pre-meal reading, look at how much you ate. Chances are you ate more carbohydrate than usual.

Topple more diabetes myths. Check out Parts 2 and 3 of  Diabetes Myths … Busted.

Find out why measuring your blood sugar first thing in the morning isn't enough.Click To Tweet

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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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11 Comments

  1. Chalee Tanasugarn on November 5, 2015 at 12:54 am

    I plan on reducing the amount of carbs that I eat. I’m already going to bikram yoga regularly. My A1C was 5.9 in September. Not sure what’ll take to ween myself off meds.

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 5, 2015 at 1:07 am

      What wonderful efforts Chalee! Your healthcare provider can help you determine if it’s safe to reduce or discontinue your medications. Your A1C tells me you’re probably working very hard!

  2. Diabetes Myths ... Busted, Part 2 on November 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    […] 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 […]

  3. DKB on March 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

    My husband has type 2 diabetes and heart issues. We use portion sizes for weight maintenance and carb watching. We often share a meal at restaurants.

    • Jill Weisenberger on March 12, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Those are terrific strategies. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Tammy English on July 6, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I go to the gym at lest 3 times a week. My A1C is 6.5. However my triglycerides is 287 I need help getting this down ,W hat to do !

    • Jill Weisenberger on July 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Good for you! I’m glad you’re so consistent with the gym. Triglycerides can be elevated for many reasons, including insulin resistance, alcohol intake, excessive sugar intake, genetics and more. Often we see high triglycerides in combination with low HDL cholesterol levels, which is very common in type 2 diabetes. You might try to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist in your local area who can look at your labs and assess your diet. You can find someone in your local area at eatright.org.

  5. Irene Holland on October 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve learned so much from these people on here. Want to say thank you. My Dr told me don’t eat fruit or take turmeric as messes with medication. I asked ppl on here and found out I can eat fruit. I keep on learning each day.

    • Jill Weisenberger on October 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      I’m so glad Irene. I’m glad you’ve found a community of helpful people.

  6. Vince Mattaliano on August 12, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    I plan to enjoy summer fruits, in moderation. To me, summer IS cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums and. . .melon.

    • Jill Weisenberger on August 12, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      So totally agree. But add figs and berries! And a few others.

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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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