Did you know that it is National Diabetes Month? As someone who just six months ago was told by my doctor that I was “pre-diabetic,” I am happy to take part in spreading the word this November.
After hearing my “pre-diabetic” diagnosis, I have been working on stopping the path I was on towards Type 2 Diabetes, by getting educated and taking action. I truly believe that part of the reason I found myself in the “pre-diabetic” category is that I had so many false assumptions about the disease. Here are some myths that I used to believe about diabetes that ultimately were harmful to my health. Hopefully by sharing them here, it will help others avoid the disease.
The first and most dangerous myth is the belief that diabetes is not a serious disease. On the contrary, it is very serious and according to the American Diabetes Association “Diabetes kills more Americans each year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.” And it can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, and amputations. So, don’t take it lightly, educate yourself as much as you can, ask your doctor about the specific things that you can do to avoid it, because there are plenty of practical and doable things that you can do.
If you don‘t have any symptoms you don‘t have to worry, or you can wait to do something because you will know you have it when you start getting symptoms. This is not true; there are often few or no symptoms when it first develops. I had no idea that I was inching so close to diabetes. If you wait for symptoms, by that time, they are usually serious symptoms, and that might make it harder to control or reverse the condition.
You have to eat a special diet if you have diabetes. This is something I always thought was the absolute truth. It isn’t that you have to eat a special diet; it’s that you have to eat a healthy diet, the same diet that is good for everyone, a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and with a limited amount of refined sugar and fat. The fact that you can have sugar at all is also a surprise to most people (it was to me). But that doesn’t mean that this chocoholic can have all the candy she wants; it is all about moderation, having it in small amounts, and to plan for it around whatever else I am eating.
Another myth that I really believed is that you have to lose a lot of weight to decrease your risk of developing or improving your diabetes. If you lose just 7 percent of your body weight, you will gain significant health benefits. If you weigh 200 pounds, losing 15 pounds can make a big difference. And losing 7 percent can decreasen your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. I can attest that this works. I have lost more than 7 percent of my body weight, and in just 6 months, my blood sugar level is better, and my BMI (Body Mass Index), cholesterol, and even my blood pressure are all back into the normal range and I feel so much better.
People with diabetes can‘t exercise or be athletic. This is also another myth that can make things worse for people who have no idea they are at risk. Exercise is important for all of us, but it is even more important to people with diabetes and to reduce your risk of getting it. Regular exercise helps lower blood sugar levels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, like brisk walking, every day. This has been one of the keys to my improved health. I have increased the duration of my daily walks. Plus, it makes me feel more energetic and relieves stress.