Myths about Diabetes

I thought this might be fun and informational at the same time for fellow Diabetics and people who want to know more. So, my question to you is this:

What myths have you heard (or that you know) about Diabetes? I will start with a number of myths that I found on the web

  1. Taking insulin can cause hypertension and hardened arteries.

Early tests lead to the suggestion that insulin may play a part in triggering processes associated with the development of hardened arteries but this has been proved to be incorrect and there is no evidence that insulin causes either hypertension or hardening of the arteries.

  1. Diabetes is a contagious condition.

There is no truth in this at all. It is believed however that individuals with diabetes have a genetic predisposition for the disease and that it may be set off by such things as viruses and drugs, including antibiotics. It is possible therefore that getting a common illness, or treating such illnesses with antibiotics, may lead to the onset of diabetes.

  1. Diabetics cannot eat candy or chocolate.

There is absolutely no reason why diabetics should not eat candy and chocolate, and indeed cakes and sweet desserts, providing they are consumed in reasonable small quantities and are only one single element of a normal and healthy diet plan.

  1. People with diabetes are prone to flu and colds.

There is absolutely no evidence to show that individuals with diabetes are any more likely than anyone else to catch a cold or flu. Diabetics must however try their best to avoid such illnesses (for example by having an annual flu shot) as illnesses of this nature can interfere with levels of blood sugar, and therefore make managing diabetes that much more difficult.

  1. Individuals with diabetes have to eat a special diabetic diet.

So called ‘Diabetic’ varieties of some foods which are often sold in health food stores are nothing more than a marketing ploy. People with diabetes should merely eat a normal balanced diet which is low in fat and which contains only moderate levels of both salt and sugar.

  1. Eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes.

Despite the fact that the reasons for diabetes are not entirely understood, it is known that excessive sugar consumption is not one of them. This said, consuming excessive sugar could well lead to a person gaining weight, which is certainly a factor in raising the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is however not the sugar but the increase in weight which you are carrying that may result in diabetes.

  1. People with diabetes should only eat very small quantities of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates, which are found in a range of foods including beans, bread, cereals, pasta and rice and from which the body gets much of the glucose required for energy, are an important element of our diet, whether we are diabetic or not. Such foods also contain much of our essential fiber intake. The secret for people with diabetes is simply to ensure that carbohydrates are balanced with other food items and that your food portions are kept to a reasonable size.

So lets see what else other people know as myth.

Chris 5 &6 were the main ones I thought of sorry!

Some may disagree, but I think the old idea that ‘A lower HbA1c means you have dangerous hypos regularly’ is complete rubbish nowadays.

With our modern tools & insulins and our knowledge about carbs, it should be quite possible to have a lower result simply because we’re able to know where our BG is thanks to meters, have a smoother base line with either the 24 hour insulin or a pump, and have less spikes if we’re careful with our carb balance, especially if we’ve learnt a bit about carb counting (even if we don’t ‘count’ - learning a bit about it makes ‘guestimates’ a whole lot more reliable).

And yet even some doctors (and diabetics themselves) still think it’s mad to aim for a lower a1c…

Of course, this is a general comment, and everyone has a different situation and different ways of doing things, so ‘YMMV’ (Your milage may vary). But I I still believe it’s possible for us to get lower a1cs without the risk that was previously involved.

3, 5 and 6 came immediately to mind. A few others:

  1. Diabetics are overweight
  2. Diabetics can only eat bland, tasteless food
  3. Diabetics are condemned to disfiguring complications and early death

What? You mean #10 ISN’T true? So why have I been going to a death preparation counselor for 31 years? :wink:

Good topic … here are a few more myths:

~ “Taking shots” is the worst part of having diabetes
~ Insulin pumps are truly automatic (closed loop)
~ Managing diabetes is an exact science and it is always “our fault” if our BG’s get out of whack
~ When a diabetic passes out, they need insulin
~ That we as diabetics somehow forget that we have the disease or are clueless about what we should eat, and therefore need a co-worker or friend to say “You can’t eat THAT, you’re diabetic!”

I love that last one, about being reminded about what I can and cannot eat. That happens constantly, and I work in health care where I know people know better. Its a very widely held belief, even in medicine. We should just start sarcastically thanking people for saving our lives when they mention it :wink:


This was told to my parents when I was first diagnosed 41 years ago.

Your daughter will be your healthiest child because she will be eating so healthy.


You take 4 shots a day ! you must have it BAD ! … I heard this numerous times .

I heard this from my cousin in England. Type 2 diabetics who progress to needing insulin turn into Type 1.

“Diabetes is a condition reserved for the middle aged or elderly”. Several of my relatives expressed shock that I was diagnosed with diabetes. I ended up explaining the various kinds of diabetes I’ve learned about to them…and telling them I’ve seen 3 year old kids going for visits at the diabetes clinic at the hospital.

and because T1 diabetes isn’t as common here as it is in the US, and insulin pump usage is pretty much unheard of:

as said by my cousin, “my friend wears a thing (i.e.: pump) to inject insulin into him, so his condition must be pretty serious.” that statement turned into diabetes education talk by me, for my family! :smiley:

That is really funny! The Dr told my parents and me I would never live to see 30 um… I’m 44 and still going! HA!


People with diabetes who are controlling with diet and exercise SHOULD eat very small quantities of carbohydrates.

The people who say this is a myth are the junk food companies like Cadbury Schweppes who are major funders of ADA and have an unfortunate effect on their dietary advice.

Eating carbs, without injecting insulin, is guaranteed to raise blood sugar. End of story. No oral drug exists that can normalize the blood sugar of a person with Type 2 diabetes who eats 50 grams of carbs per meal.

People with Type 1 can eat carbs if they balance them with insulin BUT, the more carbs they eat, the more likely they are to mismatch the carbs with the insulin leading to highs or lows.

And timing insulin to meet a meal with a lot of carbs in it can also be extremely difficult.

Here’s the REAL MYTH: The dietary advice you get from the ADA will keep your from blindness, amputation, and kidney failure.

Despite collecting hundreds of millions of dollars the ADA continues to promote crap like the above which damages the health of people with diabetes while enriching the drug companies and junk food companies who are their major contributors. Lowering carbs saves life and limb.

There’s NO data anywhere to contradict this.

diabetics who take insulin are "severely diabetic"
I’ve heard a few people tell me this recently, I like to say they are avoiding dka :wink:

I’ve definately heard the one about Type 2s that progress to insulin then become type 1s.

That you can’t be type 1, if you have no family history, when in fact, more type 1s are without a family history than type 2s.

Also, my mom said that she had never heard of any diabetic taking more than one shot a day, and that my endo was a quack.

These are all great! I am planning on taking these and posting them on my blog. So keep them coming. I love to hear the ridiculous things people and society think about Diabetes.

I have heard that “type 2 that progresses to insulin becomes type 1” from a doctor, no less. An endo.

Did I mention that rural New England has some pretty crappy doctors?

Behind you 100% on this one, Jenny!
I’m not a serious low carber, but all the info that says we should be eating carbs has no backup. It’s SO much easier to skip the carbs - or at least balance them nicely (avoiding high carb stuff and getting most nutrition from vegetables, protein, fats). I can see absolutely NO reason why this could ever be wrong…

What’s even more wrong is when someone recently diagnosed it sent off with dietary advice that tells them to have MORE carbs. OMG! How… why… argh!!!

I went out with friends in Paris and had ONE glass of wine and they were ready to send me to AA. I got a lecture about my “excessive” drinking. I didn’t know Iwas traveling with the food police…