Common Questions About Diabetes 

As the adult child of an aging parent, you may now find yourself in a position in which you are becoming more responsible in assisting your mother or father with healthcare and medical issues. For example, your parent may suffer from diabetes. While you may have been aware of this fact, you may not have spent much time really considering what the disease or condition is all about. Through this article, we provide you with answers to some essential questions about diabetes. These include responses to questions that involve some persistent and prevalent myths about diabetes.

Will an overweight person always develop type 2 diabetes?

The fact that an individual is overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Overweight people do not always develop diabetes. Many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or are only moderately overweight. Other risk factors contribute to how likely a person may be to develop type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Lack of a proper amount of physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Ethnicity
  • Age 

Do sugary beverages cause diabetes?

Research does show that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. The organization recommends that people switch to water whenever possible as a step in the arsenal to help prevent type 2 diabetes. 

Sugary drinks do raise glucose or blood sugar levels. These types of beverages also provide several hundred calories in just one serving. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar, a type of carbohydrate. This is the same as 10 teaspoons of sugar. Not only can these drinks in and of themselves raise the risk of a person developing type 2 diabetes, they can also cause an individual to gain weight. As was discussed a moment ago, weight can also be a risk factor as to whether or not an individual develops diabetes.

Examples of beverages that the American Diabetes Association generally recommends avoiding are:

  • Regular soda
  • Fruit punch
  • Fruit drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Sweet tea
  • Sweetened coffee drinks
  • Other sugary drinks

Is diabetes a serious disease?

Diabetes is a recognized disease. In fact, diabetes results in more deaths each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Having diabetes almost doubles a person’s chance of having a heart attack. 

There is some good news, however. Proper management of diabetes can lower the risk of diabetes complications, including the diseases mentioned a moment ago.

Do people with diabetes need to eat special foods?

No, “special food” is not required. A healthy diet plan for individuals with diabetes is generally the same as healthy eating for any other person. There are a good many different eating plans that can help a person manage diabetes. A healthy eating plan for diabetes includes plenty of non-starchy vegetables, limit added sugars, swap refined grains for whole grains, and choosing whole foods over highly processed foods whenever possible.

If you have diabetes, can you eat starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, and pasta?

Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan. However, portion size is key. These foods tend to have more carbs and eating them will raise your blood sugar. Therefore, you need to pay attention to eating only reasonable amounts of these types of food items.

Do people with diabetes need to avoid carbs?

There is no evidence to suggest that people with diabetes need to avoid carbs altogether. There are some healthy eating plans for individuals with diabetes that avoid carbs, however. Ultimately, there is research to suggest that including the right amounts of carbs, protein, and healthy fat can help manage a person’s blood glucose levels. A person’s doctor can assist in mapping out a proper healthy diet. In the alternative, a person’s physician might recommend a dietary specialist to assist in this regard.

What is a proper portion size?

Generally speaking, a proper portion size is no bigger that one-quarter of a 9-inch plate.

Can individuals with diabetes eat sweets? 

If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions. 

Can you catch diabetes from someone else?

This actually is a somewhat persistent myth. Although we do not know exactly why some people develop diabetes and others never do, we know diabetes is not contagious. It cannot be caught like a cold, flu, or even COVID.

Are people with diabetes more likely to get colds and other illnesses?

People no more likely to get a cold or another illness if they have diabetes. People with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to manage. In addition, people with diabetes who get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, does it mean you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly?

Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one. For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with a combination of meal planning, physical activity, and taking oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually, oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range.

If you have further questions about your parent’s diabetes diagnosis, the American Diabetes Association has a number of resources available at its website for families of individuals diagnosed with this disease. In addition, your parent’s physician is likely to have informational materials about diabetes that may also be of assistance to you in learning more about your parent’s disease.