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Diabetes: Fact or Myth?

By: American Diabetes Association
Source: American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

Diabetes Fact or Myth?

“When I found out I had type II diabetes, I said ‘no’ to sugar. No more sugar in my tea, no more cakes, cookies, or pies, and no more jelly on my toast. I even switched from my favorite brand of peanut butter because it had sugar in it.”

These efforts most certainly have made for a more healthy diet. But now it turns out, you probably didn’t have to go to such extreme measures.

Sugar has long had a bad reputation, especially among people with diabetes. People used to think that eating sugar would cause blood glucose levels to rise much more rapidly than eating other types of carbohydrates, such as bread or potatoes. So although bread and potatoes were okay to eat, pure sugar or sugar-laden treats were considered taboo.

It turns out that sugar’s bad rap is not entirely deserved. Researchers are now finding that simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, and complex carbohydrates, such as bread and potatoes, are digested at the same rate. That means that all carbohydrates will raise your blood glucose levels equally fast. What does seem to matter in how quickly your blood glucose levels rise in the other foods you eat in combination with carbohydrates and how the food is cooked.  Foods that include fat are digested much more slowly.

You can include foods that contain sugar in your diabetes meal plan. As long as you account for the calories and carbohydrate content of the sugar you eat, it won’t hurt your blood glucose control. But that doesn’t mean you should go hog wild over sugar. You still have to count sugar as a carbohydrate, but is has little nutritional value. And what you make on the peanuts, you lose on the bananas, so to speak. If you start including lots of sugary items in your diet, you won’t be able to eat as much of the nutrient-rich carbohydrates such as grains and cereals that your body needs to keep you healthy. So you can include sugar in your diet, in moderation.

Your dietitian can help you decide how to count sugar in your meal plan. For example, if you plan on having a piece of cake for dessert, you might want to skip the roll you normally have at dinner time. You may want to also talk to your doctor about whether you need to adjust your insulin dose to deal with sugar in your meal plan.