Dispelling common nutrition myths about diabetes
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Dispelling common nutrition myths about diabetes

Fifty-eight-year-old Dallas took his new diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes seriously. He began a walking program and read the sugar levels on all packaged food. His doctor told him to eliminate white foods, so he weeded out the majority of grains in his diet and decided to go low-carb.

Dallas dropped a few pounds and was managing healthy blood sugars, but noticed his energy level was getting progressively weaker. While he initially enjoyed his new high-protein diet, he missed potatoes, toast and dessert.

Dispelling three common myths about diabetes helped Dallas find more flexibility in his eating plan.

Myth 1: I only need to pay attention to the sugar on the label

The most important item for someone with diabetes to examine on a food label is the total grams of carbohydrates. This is because most carbohydrates (except fibre) directly influence blood sugars.

The type of sugar in grains, pasta, rice, bread, legumes and starchy veggies is complex carbohydrate (longer chains of sugar, similar to a pearl necklace). Foods such as fruit, milk, yogurt, some vegetables, beer, table sugar and sweets have simple carbohydrates (single or double units of sugar).

There are other important numbers on a label for diabetics. If you are overweight, watching calories is important. Since people with diabetes are also at risk for heart disease, reducing trans fats, saturated fats and sodium is important.

Choosing higher fibre foods and meals and snacks that contain protein also helps to improve blood sugar control.

Myth 2: I should avoid white foods and carbs in general

There is no reason to avoid carbohydrates if you have diabetes. Carbohydrates are essential for brain and nervous system functioning, and for your muscles as energy. Natural foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, milk and yogurt supply important nutrients and phytonutrients.

Since carbohydrates are found abundantly in starchy foods, juice, savoury snacks and sweets (and are commonly overeaten), be ruthless at watching how much of these you have.

While everyone’s needs are different, a good place to start is to have a maximum of two pieces of bread or, alternatively, one cup of grains, potatoes, corn or fruit per meal or snack. Having a bun and a baked potato, or two slices of garlic toast along with a cup of pasta, may be too much.

For better blood sugar control, it’s better to have smaller meals and add snacks than to have large meals. The best way to assess how your body responds to the common foods you are eating is to purchase and use a blood sugar monitor regularly.

Carbs with high glycemic index can spike your blood sugar rapidly. Choose starchy foods with a lower glycemic response, such as most beans and legumes, basmati rice instead of short grain rice, yams more often than white potatoes, whole grain breads instead of white breads, and high fibre bran cereals more often than low fibre cereals.

Myth 3: I must avoid dessert and use alternative sweeteners

While moderate consumption of alternative sweeteners aspartame or sucralose is considered safe by the Canadian Diabetes Association, it doesn’t mean you must use them.

Small amounts of regular sugar and dessert can be included, but you need to be savvy about how much and what you’re eating with them. Look for recipes that use less sugar. Eat dessert separate from a meal so you can spread out the carbohydrates you have at one time.

Lastly, head out for a walk or any type of physical activity, since this is one of the single most effective ways to lower your blood sugar.

Dietitian Andrea Holwegner owns Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit healthstandnutrition.com or phone 403-262-3466 for nutrition counselling and to subscribe to her free monthly ezine. Twitter.com/chocoholicRD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This