Diabetes. This D word might spark dreadful visions of bland meals, strict diets, and — jialat — a world without sweet treats.

Diabetes is a serious condition that must be managed with lifestyle changes, but there’s a lot of misinformation attached to it. So, let’s debunk some common misconceptions!

What is Diabetes

First, what is diabetes? We start by looking at insulin, the hormone that reduces blood glucose levels. Diabetes happens when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or cannot use insulin properly.

This means people with diabetes have constantly higher-than-normal blood glucose levels, which can lead to serious complications like kidney failure, blindness, and amputation if not managed properly.

Now, let’s look at some myths about diabetes.

Sugar and Diabetes

Young woman happily receiving a slice of cake

Myth 1: Sugar is the Main Culprit 

You’re enjoying dessert; your Ma tries a spoonful, then exclaims, “So sweet! Later get diabetes!”

Is this true — is diabetes caused by sugar? Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your chendol or chocolate cake: eating sugary food doesn’t directly cause diabetes.

But don’t gobble up your dessert just yet! There is a link between sugar and diabetes: a diet high in sugar and calories can lead to obesity, which increases risk of type 2 diabetes.

The conclusion? Enjoy the occasional sweet treat (in moderation, of course), but cut down if you’re eating too much sugar. Be generous and share your chendol!

Related: How Well Do You Know Your Sugar?

Sugar and Obesity

A young woman eating a big dessert with a friend

Myth 2: Only Overweight People get Diabetes

Diabetes can affect people of any weight and size. Here’s a not-so-fun fact: you could be at risk if you’re thin on the outside but fat on the inside!

It is true that being overweight or obese increases risk of diabetes, but weight is not the only factor. Other risk factors include age, family history, and lifestyle.

Our advice? No matter your weight, keep diabetes at bay by moving more and eating healthier. If you’re heavier, this will also help you shed kilos and further cut risk of diabetes. Win-win!

Related: 7 Easy Exercises to an Active Lifestyle

Diabetes and Dessert

Three opened durian on display

Myth 3: The Diabetes Diet is Bland and Joyless

Does having diabetes mean saying goodbye to desserts, durians, and other delicious treats? Nope! It’s a misconception that people with diabetes can only eat bland food and must follow a highly restrictive diet.

Truth is, a “diabetes diet” is what we consider a healthy diet: regular, balanced meals and moderate portions, with more wholegrains, lean protein, fruit and veggies, and less sugar, fat, and salt.

The main difference? People with diabetes need to watch how much carbs (e.g. sugar) they eat, and when. They can have dessert, just not on a whim, and in moderate portions.

And yes, people with diabetes can eat durian, as long as they keep within the recommended two servings of fruit per day — two durian seeds equal one serving of fruit.

Related: My Healthy Plate

Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes

Mother and daughter eating a healthy breakfast together

Myth 4: We Can't Prevent Diabetes

This is only true for type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes is dependent on many risk factors, some of which are linked to our lifestyle choices.

This means we can take control and make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay diabetes! Start by eating better, moving more, managing stress, and quitting smoking.

For more information on how to prevent diabetes, visit our Diabetes Hub.

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