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Get the facts about diabetes

If you eat a healthy diet, do some enjoyable physical activity and take medications as prescribed, you can prevent or delay complications related to diabetes.

By Shalini Chalana, MS, MEd, RDN, CDE

When you have diabetes, it means that your blood sugar (glucose) is too high. Usually, a hormone known as insulin helps to convert food into energy, but when an individual has diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin. When diabetes is untreated, it can cause risky health issues to your kidney, nerves, and heart.

There is no specific cure for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can help lower risk of complications. Small lifestyle changes, like eating healthy, exercise, taking medications, and meeting with your doctor, can help manage or prevent diabetes. More than 30 million people in the United States have the disease, but one out of every four people don’t know they have it quite yet.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and a perfect opportunity to get the facts about the disease and debunk a few common myths.

  • Myth #1: Eating too much sugar can cause diabetes.
  • Fact: Drinking sugary drinks like soda, fruit punch and Gatorade is linked to Type 2 diabetes, but Type 2 is caused by both genetic and lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, excessive weight or obesity, and processed food intake.
  • Myth #2: People with diabetes need to eat differently from those without diabetes.
  • False: There is no special diet for people with diabetes. A healthy meal plan containing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats should be eaten by everyone.
  • Myth #3: If you have diabetes you cannot eat chocolate, potatoes, rice or pasta.
  • False: All foods are permitted but portion size is key. Ask your primary care doctor to refer you to a CHA registered dietitian who can help you learn about portion sizes and how to better manage your diabetes. There is strong evidence that medical nutrition therapy provided by a dietitian is an effective therapy in the management of diabetes.
  • Myth #4: Diabetes is not that serious a disease.
  • Fact: If you manage your diabetes, eat a healthy diet, do some enjoyable physical activity and take medications as prescribed, you can prevent or delay complications related to diabetes.

If you are exploring options in care, meet the compassionate team at Cambridge Health Alliance by calling 617-665-1305 or visit

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.