Six food myths smashed
1. Myth: Eating too much sugar causes type 2 diabetes
Eating too much sugar is not the cause of diabetes but because diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are too high, it’s quite common to assume eating too much sugar is the reason.
People can develop type 2 diabetes for a number of reasons including genetics (family history, which can’t be changed), lifestyle (which can be changed) and some illnesses. Being overweight is one of the lifestyle risks that is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, but not everyone that develops type 2 diabetes is overweight.
You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular physical activity
- Making healthy food choices
- Managing blood pressure
- Managing cholesterol
- Not smoking
2. Myth: I can’t eat fruit when I have diabetes
Fruit does contain the fruit sugar, fructose, but it is full of vitamins, fibre and phytochemicals (good things) so there is no reason at all to avoid it. Health authorities recommend adults eat two serves (150g each) of fruit every day. Research has shown fruit reduces the incidence of some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There’s no reason to avoid carbohydrates (carb), but learning to recognise foods high in carb and knowing how they affect your blood glucose level is helpful. Check out the Carb SMART program for more information or talk to your Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Even if you choose to follow a very low carbohydrate diet, make sure you have two serves of low carb fruit every day.
3. Myth: I have to lose a lot of weight to improve my diabetes
Losing around 5% of your total body weight can improve your diabetes control and have great benefits to your overall health.
4. Myth: Low fat foods are high in sugar
Some low-fat foods may have some added sugar to help balance the taste and texture when fat is reduced. This can include low fat yoghurts or ice-cream. It is therefore important to compare products to find a product with the least added sugar and pay attention to the ingredients list, as this allows you to see what exactly has been added into your foods. Ultimately, it is better to eat low fat to lower your intake of saturated fat, which can increase LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and therefore increase your risk of developing heart disease.
5. Myth: People with diabetes need to follow a special diet
Fact: People with diabetes benefit from eating a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods. It is not only good for people with diabetes but everyone in the community.
6. Myth: I can eat what I want as long as I exercise for 30 minutes each day
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like that. Exercise is important for everyone and we should move as much as possible. In fact, we should try to do cardiovascular exercise to keep our heart and lungs fit, resistance exercise to maintain our muscle tissue and strength, and balance and stretching exercises to prevent falls and stay limber.
However, 30 minutes of exercise each day will not necessarily burn up the kilojoules you may eat if you eat whatever you want! For example, a slice of iced chocolate cake can take an average man 65 minutes of push ups to burn up. How about if you ate 150g (a bowl) of hot chips? The energy (kilojoules) in those can take an average woman 31 minutes of jumping jacks to burn.
They say it’s hard to out train a bad diet and it seems they are right this time. Eat healthy most of the time. Enjoy ‘sometimes’ foods in small amounts sometimes – and make sure you do enjoy them. And stay active every day, in every way you can.