Can eating too much sugar cause diabetes?

“No, that’s a myth — and so is the misconception that people with diabetes can ‘never’ eat sweets or traditional foods they enjoy,” says Donna Gibbons, RN, MS, CPT, CDE, Diabetes Program Manager at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).

A wiser strategy, she says, is assessing Type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk factors: being overweight, physically inactive, over 45 or the sibling of someone with diabetes. “Often, people at risk of developing diabetes think if they feel okay, they’re okay. But T2D diabetes is very insidious,” Gibbons says. “You might feel sleepy after eating a large meal; you may notice you’re thirstier, your vision is blurry or you are more fatigued at the end of the day. Symptoms are often undetected. That’s why millions of people walk around with pre-diabetes without knowing it.”

In fact, more than 86 million U.S. adults have pre-diabetes; up to 30 percent will develop T2D within five years. The good news: Studies show you can prevent or delay onset of T2D with small lifestyle changes that include losing 5-7% of total body weight (that’s 10 to 14 pounds if you weigh 200), eating a healthy diet, and increasing physical activity as tolerated to 150 minutes of walking per week — which can be divided into 30 minutes over five days.

“Make healthy choices: eat a wide variety of foods, increase dietary fiber with whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and fruit and eat smaller portions at regular intervals throughout the day,” says Gibbons. “It’s important to fit diabetes into your everyday ‘healthy’ life.”

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Visit us at Westchester Medical Center, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, to learn more. Advancing Care. Here.