Myths About Diabetes

Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes
There is no such thing as mild diabetes. All diabetes is serious and, if not properly controlled, can lead to serious complications.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot have sugar
Having diabetes does not mean you have to have a sugar-free diet. People with diabetes should follow a healthy balanced diet – that is low in fat, salt and sugar. You should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat 'diabetic' foods
'Diabetic' labeling tends to be used on sweets, biscuits and similar foods that are generally high in fat, especially saturated fat and calories. It is not recommended eating 'diabetic' foods, including diabetic chocolate, because they still affect your blood glucose levels, they are expensive and they can give you diarrhea. So, if you are going to treat yourself, you should go for the real thing.

Myth: People with diabetes eventually go blind
Although diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age, research has proved you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes complications – such as damage to your eyes – if you:

  • Control your blood pressure, glucose, and blood fat levels
  • Keep active
  • Maintain your ideal body weight
  • Give up smoking

Myth: It's not safe to drive if you have diabetes
Providing you are responsible and have good control of your diabetes, research shows that people with diabetes are no less safe on the roads than anyone else. Nevertheless, the myth that people with diabetes are not safe persists.

Myth: People with diabetes can't play sport
People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active can help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. Steve Redgrave, Olympic gold medal-winning rower, has achieved great sporting achievements in spite of having diabetes. However, there may be some considerations to take into account before taking up a new exercise regime. Talk to your healthcare team for more information.

Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses Not true. You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you've got diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu jabs. This is because any infection or illness interferes with your blood glucose control, putting you at risk of high blood glucose levels and, for those with Type 1 diabetes, an increased risk of ketoacidosis.

Myth: Having diabetes means you can't do certain jobs
Having diabetes should not stop you from getting and keeping a job.

Myth: People with diabetes can't wear flight socks
Many flight socks carry the warning that they are not suitable for people with diabetes. If you have any circulatory problems or complications with your feet, such as ulcers, then speak to your GP before using them. If, however, your feet and legs are generally healthy and you are normally active, using flight socks is unlikely to do you any harm.

Myth: People with diabetes can't eat grapes, mangoes or bananas
People sometimes think that if they have diabetes they can't eat grapes and bananas as they taste sweet. But if you eat a diet that includes these fruits, you can still achieve good blood glucose control. In fact, grapes and bananas, like all fruit, make a very healthy choice. Fruit is high in fibre, low in fat and full of vitamins and minerals. It helps to protect against heart disease, cancer and certain stomach problems.

Myth: People with diabetes can't cut their own toenails Not true, the general advice on toenail cutting applies to everyone. If you have diabetes you should keep your nails healthy by cutting them to the shape of the end of your toes. Don't cut them straight across, curved down the sides, or too short. Remember, your nails are there to protect your toes.

It is safe to trim your nails with a pair of nail clippers and to use an emery board to file the corners of your nails. If it is difficult for you to care for your nails, you should seek help from a podiatrist.