It’s Diabetes Week – an annual campaign to raise awareness about the condition. Never has diabetes been more prevalent; in the UK alone 3.5 million people are living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and a further 549,000 people don’t yet know they have it.
Most of us know a friend or family member living with diabetes, yet for all it’s visibility, there are still many myths and misconceptions out there.
To help challenge preconceptions and raise awareness this year the campaign is centred around the theme Setting the record straight.
Clearing up the myths
While cancer and dementia may get more attention, more people have diabetes than the two diseases combined.
When diagnosed with diabetes it’s still possible to live a healthy, rounded and full life and enjoy all the same things as people without diabetes. Here’s some commonly held myths and the truth behind them:
- Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a “mild form” of diabetes
There’s no such thing as a touch of diabetes; both forms are serious and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
- Myth: Diabetic people need “diabetic” food
This is false – strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as diabetic foods, and foods – particularly sweets – with ‘diabetic’ labelling can be misleading. All sweets, biscuits and high fat foods will affect your blood glucose levels, including specially formulated foods like diabetic chocolate. Diabetes UK doesn’t endorse eating ‘diabetic’ foods – if you’re going to treat yourself, it’s best to go for the real thing, and enjoy treats in moderation.
- Myth: People with diabetes should avoid grapes, mangoes and bananas
A commonly believed myth is that some fruits are off limits to people living with diabetes as they taste so sweet. Like all fruit, grapes and bananas make a healthy choice; they are high in fibre and low in fat and packed with vitamins and minerals. You can still achieve blood glucose control when including them in your diet.
- Myth: People with diabetes should avoid sport
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and keeping active can help reduce the risk of complications as a result of diabetes. Before taking up a new exercise regime there may be some considerations worth speaking to your doctor about first, but in general, there’s no reason to avoid sport. Olympic gold-medal rower Steve Redgrave never let diabetes stop him!
Finding out more about diabetes
If you’re interested in finding out more about diabetes, you can find plenty of resources on Silversurfers to help you on your way:
- Read our guide to Beating Diabetes for World Health Day
- Lowering your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Tips for Managing Type 2 Diabetes
- Our guide to Stop Diabetes Developing
- Online recipes for diabetics
- 3 delicious dessert recipes for diabetics
Do you know anyone with diabetes, or do you have it yourself? Share your experiences in the comments below!