Quiz yourself on your knowledge of diabetes by answering “true” or “false” to the following statements.
T/F: People with diabetes have to avoid sugar altogether.
False. When it comes to controlling blood glucose, research shows that the total amount of carbohydrate you eat is far more important than the type of carbohydrate: sugar or starch. Since this translates to “it’s probably OK to enjoy small amounts of treats once in a while,” that’s good news for those with diabetes. (Of course, this is not to say that candy and oatmeal are equally nutritious!)
T/F: People with diabetes need to eat a very special, restrictive diet.
False. The kind of healthy diet that helps prevent diabetes is the same kind of diet that helps people with diagnosed diabetes to manage their condition. What does this sort of eating regimen include? Plenty of fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains, nonfat or low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish. A healthy diet also is one that provides an appropriate level of calories for maintaining a healthy weight. The main difference between eating when you have diabetes and eating to prevent it: people with diabetes have to monitor the total amount of carbohydrates they eat. Women with diabetes generally should have three to four carbohydrate servings in a meal; men typically should have four to five. One serving = 15 grams of carbohydrate.
T/F: Some people with diabetes have no symptoms.
True. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third of those who have diabetes don’t even know it. Symptoms of diabetes may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination. But some people have no symptoms. A blood test can show if you have diabetes; ask your doctor if you should be tested.
T/F: It’s common to develop diabetes during pregnancy.
False. It’s not common to develop diabetes during pregnancy, but it does happen. About 4 percent of all pregnant women develop “gestational diabetes” during pregnancy, and the condition often disappears after the baby is born. Experts don’t know what causes gestational diabetes to develop, but some believe that hormones that help the baby grow may block the action of insulin in the mother’s body. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes later, but maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active can minimize the likelihood of a recurrence of diabetes post-pregnancy.
T/F: If your doctor tells you that you have “prediabetes,” eventually, you will develop the condition.
False. If you have prediabetes—a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes—you can do a lot to prevent or delay diabetes. Studies have shown that you can lower your risk of developing diabetes by losing weight through diet and exercise. A major study of more than 3,000 people with prediabetes found that diet and exercise, when it resulted in weight loss (just 5 to 7 percent of total body weight, or about 10 to 14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds), lowered the incidence of diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes a day.