By LilyAnn Jeu and Ingrid Strauch


Isn’t it amazing when something you know to be true turns out not to be? Sometimes, this can be a big disappointment, like finding out the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. Other times, it can be a big relief.

When it comes to diabetes, there are a lot of myths and false beliefs out there. While believing some of these myths may have no practical effect on your life, believing others may cause you to restrict your lifestyle unnecessarily or, worse, make controlling your blood glucose levels more difficult.

To make sure you know what is myth and what is fact, we checked with the experts on some of the more commonly held false beliefs about diabetes. We hope this list brings you more relief than disappointment.


MYTH:  Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
FACT:  Eating too much food can lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.

MYTH:  People with diabetes should NEVER eat sugar.
FACT:  All carbohydrates raise blood sugar, whether it's sugar or starch. It's the TOTAL amount of carbohydrate in each meal that matters.

MYTH:  It is OK for people with diabetes to eat as many "sugar-free" foods as they want.
FACT:  Sugar-free products still contain calories and have the potential to cause unwanted weight gain.

MYTH:  Using insulin means a person has type 1 diabetes.
FACT:  People with type 2 diabetes must inject insulin when other corrective measures, such as diet modification, increasing physical activity, and/or taking diabetes pills does not provide adequate blood sugar control.

MYTH:  Sometimes diabetes goes away.
FACT:  Some people with type 2 diabetes are able to maintain near-normal blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. However, straying from their regimen, the symptoms would reappear.

MYTH:  There are different degrees of diabetes. Some people have a bad case and others have a mild case.
FACT:  Certainly some people have an easier time controlling their blood sugar levels for reasons we don't always understand, but the truth is you either have diabetes or you don't.

MYTH:  Diabetes can be caused by severe stress.
FACT:  Elevated levels of stress hormones may tax the pancreas enough that insufficient amounts of insulin are produced revealing undiagnosed diabetes as the underlying problem.

MYTH:  People with diabetes can not drink alcohol.
FACT:  Most people with well-controlled diabetes can enjoy alcohol in moderation; that is one drink a day for a woman and two for a man. One drink is 12 oz beer, 4 oz wine, or 1½ oz liquor.

MYTH:  A person with diabetes can tell whether their blood glucose level is too high or too low based on how they feel.
FACT:  Some people experience classic early symptoms of low blood sugar and are completely unaware. The only reliable way to know your blood sugar level at any given time is to TEST it on your home monitor.

MYTH:  People with diabetes should take it easy and not do any strenuous exercise. Being too active might make their diabetes worse.
FACT:  Exercise is an essential part of diabetes treatment by lowering blood sugar levels and controlling weight.


For those of you who were recently diagnosed with diabetes, we hope this article answered some of the questions you may have had about diabetes. For diabetes veterans, we hope you learned some useful information that will make managing your diabetes a little easier.

New information (and misinformation) about diabetes is published all the time. We encourage you to discuss what you read about or hear about with your health-care team. Your team members can help you separate fact from fiction, and getting the facts in the best way to learn how to manage your diabetes.

LilyAnn Jeu is a pharmacy student at Long Island University in New York City and Ingrid Strauch is the Managing Editor of Diabetes Self-Management.

Reprinted with permission from Diabetes Self-Management. Copyright © 1998 R.A. Rapaport Publishing, Inc. For subscription information, call (800) 234-0923.