April 10, 2019
Busting Some Common Diabetes Myths!
By: Patrick Salvador
Throughout Canada, there are many people living with some form of diabetes. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are approximately 3.7 million Canadians currently diagnosed with diabetes. There was an additional 200,000 newly diagnosed cases in 2013-2014.
While there are many people throughout Canada living with diabetes, there are still many myths about this disease that both the general public, as well as those living with it still continue to believe.
We hear these myths over and over again. “If you eat too much sugar, you can get diabetes” and “I can no longer eat sweets.” These are just some of the many different myths that are heard.
With all this confusion about diabetes, it becomes even more important to have a better understanding of it! The more you know about diabetes, the better you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your diabetes. So what are some of these myths?
What are the actual facts behind these myths?
MYTH #1: Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes
Eating too much sugar is NOT a direct cause of diabetes. However, a diet that is high in added sugars, for instance, can worsen blood sugar levels if we already have diabetes.
To help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, limit foods that are ultra-processed such as soda, cookies, frozen entrees, etc. Take steps to cook your meals ‘from scratch’ more often, incorporate a variety of fresh foods, and limit your intake of sugary drinks (juice, soda pop, etc.).
There are many other factors that can increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes including family history of type 2 diabetes, leading a sedentary lifestyle, being from certain ethnic backgrounds, and being over the age of 40.
MYTH #2: If I use Insulin when I have Type 2 Diabetes, then my diabetes is becoming worse.
It’s important to remember that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, it can usually be managed with lifestyle measures such as consuming a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, over time the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin needed to regulate blood sugar levels, produces less insulin. This contributes to an increase in blood sugar levels that requires extra help from medications, such as insulin.
In addition to lifestyle changes, your family doctor may prescribe medications to help control your blood sugar levels. By adding them into the treatment plan, it allows you to continue to live a healthy life.
MYTH #3: If I have diabetes, I can no longer eat any sweets or foods with sugar!
Just because you have diabetes, it does not mean you have up to give up on all sweets. It is still possible to enjoy that slice of cake or scoop of ice cream from time to time; the key is having smaller portions, making healthier substitutions, and enjoying it on special occasions rather than regularly.
MYTH #4: I can’t exercise if I have diabetes.
Regular exercise is an essential part of improving quality of life when living with diabetes. Benefits of exercise include better control of blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps to lower stress and improve energy levels! Combining this with other healthy lifestyle changes can really make a difference in living well with diabetes.
For those individuals who are on insulin or a sulfonylurea (one type of diabetes medication), precautions can be taken to help keep blood sugars from dropping too low. This includes consuming some carbohydrates before, during, or after exercise as well as reducing the amount of medication/insulin you take before your exercise.
MYTH #5: Diabetes is not a serious disease.
Maintaining good blood sugar control can significantly reduce your risk of developing many of the complications related to diabetes, such as eye damage (called retinopathy – see our previous blog post to learn more: https://lampchc.org/blog-wtdep/retinopathy/), kidney damage and nerve damage in the feet.
People with diabetes are also at an increased risk of heart disease, including heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
For most people, good blood sugar control involves having an A1C of 7.0% or under (A1C is a blood test that shows the three month average of blood sugars levels). Speak to our diabetes team to find out what your target A1C should be.
These are just some of the countless myths about diabetes. With so much confusing information out there, our team at the West Toronto DEP is here to help you make sense of it all and help you to increase your confidence in managing your diabetes!
Feel free to get in contact with our team of nurses and dietitians to learn more about how you can live your healthiest life!
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2017, November 14). Diabetes in Canada. Retrieved from
American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Stop Diabetes: Myths and Facts. Retrieved from
American Diabetes Association. (2018, August 20). Diabetes Myths. Retrieved from
Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes. 2018;42(Suppl 1):S1-S325.