Lifestyle

12 Biggest Diabetes Myths & Misconceptions … BUSTED!

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
March 11, 2021

Diabetes misconceptions & myths are not only wildly annoying, they can also be extremely dangerous! Here's my top 12 that I think it's time we busted ...

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When you are first diagnosed with diabetes you soon realise that there are A LOT of misconceptions and myths to deal with. 

You might even find misconceptions that YOU once thought were true before your diagnosis! 

Below I am going to take you through some of the most common diabetes misconceptions I’ve come across and BUST them!

Purely as a bit of fun … but maybe to help educate some people too.

First up ...

1. You get diabetes because you’re overweight

The diabetes myth that type 1 diabetes and weight are related is the most frustrating thing in the world! 

I was underweight for 1-2 years before my diagnosis, so it would be silly to think that being “overweight” is what caused me to have type 1 diabetes. 

Yet, I’ve had many people say to me “oh, but you’re not fat”. 

So no, having type 1 diabetes has NOTHING to do with your weight! 

Your weight can contribute to type 2 diabetes (particularly weight around your stomach area), but again, it’s not always the direct cause.

2. You can't eat sugar

Diabetes myth 2 - cant eat sugar with diabetes

Where did this come from? I assume it’s because of the whole weight thing…

Oh, and I blame the media for this one too...

But no, all diabetics, both type 1 and 2 can have sugar. 

If we go into hypo, then sugar is going to be the thing that saves us from dropping into a coma

If we want to eat sugar, all you do is simply take the required amount of insulin to cover that insulin. 

Please never ever say to a type 1 diabetic, “should you be eating that?” 

If they react with anger, don’t be surprised! 

3. You only have to inject once daily

Diabetes myth 3 - only inject insulin once a day

The number of times I have told someone I am type one diabetic, and then proceed to explain I take insulin, for them then to say “oh that’s fine, you just need to inject then”, 

It is sooooo annoying. 

I’ve had someone tell me “oh that doesn’t seem like such a big deal”, and whilst I don’t go looking for sympathy with my diabetes, you’d be naive to think that having type 1 diabetes is just about injecting once a day and all is fine and dandy...

So many things affect insulin intake, such as drinking alcohol with diabetes, which on it's own is a whole another topic!

4. If someone is having a hypo, you give them insulin

Diabetes myth 4- give insulin for hypo

I’ve asked people what to do if I have a bad hypo and go into a coma, and despite me already previously explaining that it would kill me-- they still say “oh, just give you insulin”. 

Insulin is what caused the hypo in the first place, so giving more could seriously damage or kill that person. 

If the person you are with is conscious and able to swallow, then give them some fruit juice or put sugar on their gums and check their blood sugar level after about 10 minutes. 

If they are not responding or are refusing to take sugar (brain function starts to be affected), then you can give them their Glucagon emergency injections (if they have one with them) and call an ambulance for further assistance. 

5. Just eat healthily and it’ll go away / take cinnamon / my gran cured hers with magic

So there are lots of intelligent people in the world who think they’re educated on something they don’t have. 

Those people will tell you to drink Tumeric or cinnamon and your diabetes will disappear. 

Unfortunately, that’s not true, the pancreas has died, so a few spices are not going to help. 

I don’t mind informing people of the truth when they give me this god-awful advice, but I get frustrated when they continue to tell me, I’m wrong- like really?

6. Only children get type 1 diabetes

Diabetes myth 6 only children get diabetes

Whilst it’s more common for children and younger adults to get type 1 diabetes, it doesn’t mean that is always the case

I was 16; but take my mum, for example. She was diagnosed at over 50. 

Age is just a number and doesn’t dictate when and if you will get type 1 diabetes. 

7. So you’ll grow out of it?

Diabetes myth 7 - can grow out of diabetes

This was more of a misconception given to me when I was younger. 

Lots of people would assume I just “grow out of it”, and as much as I wish that was the case, it’s not. 

You can’t “grow” out of diabetes. 

8. You can only eat diabetic foods

Diabetes myth 8 - only eat diabetic food

Whoever created “diabetic foods” is an idiot in my humble opinion. 

Diabetic foods are “low” in sugar, but tend to have the same amount of carbs, and carbs are what we count to give insulin, not sugar. 

So, I can see how a type 2 diabetic might find it useful in some way, but still, there are better options. 

Also, diabetic foods give you the poops. They are laced with laxatives, so I’d rather not! 

I’ll say it again, there isn’t a single thing that diabetics cannot eat. 

But, we should ALL be following a healthy diet, regardless of diabetes. 

9. Having diabetes means you can't do certain jobs

Diabetes myth 9 - can only do certain jobs

There really isn’t much a diabetic can’t do job-wise. 

I know in the past they couldn’t be a pilot on a plane, but I now know type 1 diabetic pilots, so I assume the law has changed or differs across the world. 

I also know that there is a blanket ban on employment in the armed forces, but I think there is consistent campaigning to change this. 

I wanted to travel the world, and I was previously told that it was too risky, and maybe I should do something less stressful, but I did it anyway and my blood sugars have been better since I started travelling than when I wasn’t-- go figure! 

I’ve now been to 50+ countries … YAY ME!

It's all about finding unique solutions, such as picking up insulin cooling cases to store your supplies.

Read More: My Ultimate Guide To Travelling With Diabetes

10. Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors “do it all” for people with diabetes

Diabetes myth 10 - CGM will run your diabetes

This is a more recent diabetes misconception thanks to new technology (like the Dexcom and FreeStyle Libre), but one I have come across. 

I’ve often explained in basic terms what my insulin pump does and it’s usually met with the expectation that “oh, so it does everything for you”. 

I wish. It does what I have trained it to do, and it only does that as long as I am constantly updating and monitoring it. People with diabetes must still calculate carbs in food, check blood glucose with finger sticks, and “think” for the technology they use.

So whilst it’s BRILLIANT technology, it’s not doing everything on its own. 

I’d be lost without my Freestyle Libre now though! 

11. If you have diabetes, you’ll go blind-- eventually

Diabetes myth 11 - diabetes causes blindness

Thanks for that one! But no, whilst there is a strong correlation between type 2 diabetes and blindness, this is usually due to not looking after yourself. 

With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is always the risk of diabetic complications, but these are reduced significantly if you look after yourself. 

This means monitoring your blood sugars regularly, taking your insulin, and ensuring you go to your appointments yearly. 

12. Diabetes isn’t a big deal

Diabetes myth 12 - diabetes isn't a big deal

Well, that’s just a slap in the face. 

Of course, it’s a big deal. 

That doesn't mean we want sympathy or violins, but yes, it’s a big deal. People die daily from it, and it’s a 24/7 chronic illness which means there is no break, at all, ever, at all…

But we still get on with it, which in all honesty, makes us pretty damn awesome.

Do you know any diabetes myths?

So there we have it, my easy breezy post on some of the most frustrating and annoying diabetic misconceptions I’ve come across so far!

Now over to you … do you have any diabetes myths or misconceptions?

Do you ever hear anything in particular that particular winds you up?

Let loose by letting me know below! It may even deserve a place in this list

In the meantime, here are a few other diabetes guides you might find useful ...

Cazzy Magennis

Living with type 1 diabetes for over 10 years has given me a lot of life experience, challenges and opportunities. I’ve had ups and downs, but I’m proud that I can live out my dreams whilst managing t1d. I hope my stories can help your daily life with diabetes too!