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Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes

Diabetes Myths
Uncover the facts

Many myths are associated with diabetes and its treatment. Examining a few of these can reveal the truth.

Myth #1

Eating too much sugar caused my diabetes.

Truth:

When it really comes down to it, type 2 diabetes is a genetic disease. If someone with the genes to develop diabetes is put in the right environment, the chance of developing diabetes increases greatly. What is that environment? It involves eating a diet high in fat, low in fibre, and full of refined carbohydrates, along with lack of activity and weight gain.
Myth #2

I can tell when my blood glucose is high.

Truth:

Unfortunately, most people cannot feel high blood glucose. Research has shown that those newly diagnosed with diabetes have already had it for up to ten years. Most people with high blood glucose do not feel any different. Some may experience symptoms including extreme thirst and tiredness, frequent urges to pass urine, a dry mouth, tingling in the hands and feet, and blurred vision.
Myth #3

I have diabetes. I am on a ‘diabetic diet’ and cannot eat fruit or foods with sugar in them.

Truth:

The ‘diabetic diet’ is dead! People with diabetes are encouraged to eat healthy well-balanced meals (just like everyone else) by following Canada’s Food Guide.

Fruit is an important part of a well-balanced diet. Work with your dietitian to decide how to fit a variety of fruits into your diet. Many dietitians recommend three fruit each day, either as a snack or as part of a meal.

If your blood glucose is well-managed, up to 10 per cent of your total daily calories can be from added sugars, such as sugar in your coffee, syrups, or desserts baked with sugar. Keep in mind that foods high in sugar may also be high in fat. Work with your dietitian to learn how such foods can fit into your meal plan.

Checking your blood glucose two hours after a meal is the best way to tell how your body has responded to the food you have eaten.

Is My Blood Glucose Meter Accurate?

At your next scheduled bloodwork or lab visit, take your meter with you.
  1. Bring all your blood glucose testing equipment to the lab.
  2. Within five minutes of the lab test, do a finger prick and blood glucose test using your
    own meter.
  3. Record the result in your logbook and circle it for later reference.
  4. Along with your doctor or diabetes educator, compare the result from your blood glucose meter with the lab result.
  5. Your meter result should be within a 20 per cent range above or below the lab result.
    For instance, if your lab reading was 6.4 mmol/L, your blood glucose meter result should be between 5.12 and 7.68 mmol/L.
Myth #4

I don’t need to test my blood glucose at home. My doctor sends me to the lab once a month.

Truth:

Testing at the lab is acceptable for some people. However, for most, testing at home is the best choice. It gives an instant snapshot of blood glucose control. Testing throughout the day lets you know how your blood glucose varies in response to meals, exercise, stress and day-to-day activities.
Recommended blood glucose targets for people with diabetes*
  AIC** Fasting blood glucose/ blood glucose before meals (mmol/L) Blood glucose two hours after eating (mmol/L)
Target for most patients with diabetes Less than or equal to 7.0% 4.0 to 7.0 5.0 to 10
Normal range Less than or equal to 6.0% 4.0 to 6.0 5.0 to 8.0

* This information is based on the Canadian Diabetes Association 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada and is a guide. Talk to your doctor about YOUR blood glucose target ranges.
** A1C is a blood test that indicates an average of your overall blood glucose levels over the past 120 days. A1C targets for pregnant women and children 12 years of age and under are different.

Myth #5

I can’t exercise. I have a sore knee and I am waiting for knee replacement surgery.

Truth:

Exercise is an important part of both diabetes management and keeping blood glucose levels under control. Now may be a good time to look at other ways to keep active. Physical activity helps move glucose out of the blood stream to be used as fuel by your muscles.

Regular exercise helps control your blood glucose levels. Activity is also extremely important for your overall physical and mental health. It helps reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

You can choose from many different types of exercise, such as walking, using a stationary bike or treadmill, exercising in water, and armchair exercises. Explore the options with your doctor, diabetes educator or exercise specialist.

Myth #6

If my fasting blood glucose (before breakfast) is less than 7.0 mmol/L, my diabetes is well controlled.

Truth:

Many people with diabetes have normal or near normal blood glucose readings before breakfast.If you only test your blood glucose levels before breakfast, you may miss many of your highest readings. Many people are quite surprised to find high blood glucose after a meal. Use those tests to help you know when you are not within your goal range. You can also see how your body responds to certain foods, exercise and medications.

Myth #7

I never get my meter checked, but it is working fine!

Truth:

Many different things can affect the accuracy of blood glucose meters. The only way to know for sure it is working properly is to have a comparison done between the meter reading and reading from a lab. Common problems that cause inaccurate results include not placing enough blood on the strip, expired strips, exposing strips to moisture, not calibrating the meter to match new strips, and mechanical failure.

It is recommended that meters be checked against a lab at least once a year to ensure they are accurate. Make an appointment at your local Safeway pharmacy or with your diabetes educator to review your testing technique.

Myth #8

If the recipe is in a diabetes cookbook, it must be good for me.

Truth:

Everyone responds differently to food. Checking your blood glucose two hours after a meal is the best way for you to know how your body responded to what you ate.

People have different dietary needs – no one cookbook or recipe will be perfect for everyone. By following the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, limiting fat and added sugar, and controlling portion sizes, you can make any cookbook or recipe work for you.

Talk with your dietitian to determine a meal plan that suits you and includes your favorite foods.

If your blood glucose meter is working out of range

  1. Talk to your diabetes educator or Safeway pharmacy staff about why your meter readings may be off. Inaccurate results can happen for a number of reasons. Have your meter checked at your next scheduled bloodwork or lab visit. In some cases, the meter may need to be replaced.
  2. If you need a new meter, visit your Safeway Pharmacy. We will gladly replace a meter that is not performing accurately.
  3. Review your technique with your diabetes educator or Safeway Pharmacy staff, including gathering the blood sample, placement of the sample on the strip, coding the meter, and checking the strip’s expiry date.
  4. Call the 800 number on the back of your machine for assistance if your diabetes educator or pharmacy staff are not available.
   
Myth #9

If the food packaging has Canadian Diabetes Food Choice Value symbols on the package, it must be approved by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Truth:

Food companies pay for the right to put those symbols on their products. Unfortunately, the symbols do not show approval from the Canadian Diabetes Association. You can use Food Choice symbols to help you plan how packaged foods fit into your meal plan. Remember, just because a food has Food Choice symbols does not automatically mean that it is a good or healthy choice.
Myth #10

My diabetes must be really bad if I have to take insulin.

Truth:

Insulin is just another treatment option. For some people, the combination of healthy eating, exercise and medication does not keep blood glucose levels under control. Insulin may be a way to gain better control.

Insulin was one of the most significant discoveries of the twentieth century. If you and your doctor decide that you need insulin, it does not mean that you have failed. Your body just requires another tool from the toolbox in order to control your blood glucose.

Myth #11

Having diabetes means that I am going to go blind, need kidney dialysis or have an amputation.

Truth:

Many complications are associated with diabetes. Vision, kidneys, heart and blood circulation to the feet can all be affected. There is no way to predict if you will be affected by complications. However, research shows that the best way to avoid problems is to keep your blood glucose levels in good control. Work with your doctor, pharmacist, dietitian and diabetes educator to maintain the best blood glucose control possible for you.
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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [DI_MDb11]
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