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Guide to Diabetes

Frequently asked questions and the answers

Why does Diabetes Develop?

Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases if one or more of the following applies to you. If you…

  • are overweight, particularly if your weight is distributed around your tummy.
  • have one or more parents who have diabetes
  • are of Asian origin
  • have had diabetes in pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes)

If you are overweight, losing weight through dietary changes and increased activity are the best possible things you can do to reduce your chances of developing diabetes.


Type 2 Diabetes is mild Diabetes?: NO

Mild diabetes does not exist. All types of diabetes are equally serious and if not carefully managed makes you feel unwell and can lead to long term complications.


Can eating too much sugar cause diabetes?: NO

Diabetes is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. However being overweight particularly around the tummy area increases your risk of developing diabetes, and makes your diabetes more difficult to control. In order to reduce the risk, try to lose weight by improving your diet and taking some regular exercise. Eating too much sugar is not a direct cause of diabetes, however if you are overweight this maybe linked with a high sugar intake. Being overweight is a strong predictor of diabetes so if necessary consider reducing your sugar intake to help lower your weight.


Diabetes is lifelong?: Yes

Unfortunately once you have diabetes it will not go away. You will need to manage your diabetes with support from your surgery or local diabetes team.


Having Diabetes won't affect my children? Yes

Remember that Type 2 diabetes is genetic therefore it increases the risk of your children developing diabetes. You can reduce your childrens risk by encouraging them to follow a healthy diet and to take regular exercise.


Do I have to avoid all sugar? No

Having diabetes does not mean you need to follow a “no sugar diet”. Nowadays many foods that you would not expect to contain sugar actually do contain sugar so it is difficult to avoid it completely e.g. Baked beans.
It is more important to avoid foods/drinks that will increase blood glucose levels rapidly e.g. full sugar drinks and sweets.
Instead use  Sugar free cordials, Diet pops Sweeteners.
Consider reducing your total food intake particularly those high in sugar if you are trying to lose weight. Balanced Eating


Can I eat bananas / grapes? Yes

Fruit is an important part of our diet. Fruit does contain some natural sugar but it also contains fibre and vitamins, which are essential for good health. Aim for a variety of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables and spread them over the day. what is a portion?.


Do I have to eat snacks?

Snacks are not always necessary for people with diabetes. If you are trying to lose weight, including snacks will make this harder. If you feel you need snacks, reduce the overall portion of your meal focussing on the carbohydrate, so that overall you are not eating more. If you are on medication for your diabetes you can discuss this issue with your practice nurse or diabetes team.


Are diabetic products good for me? No

They offer no benefit to people with diabetes and therefore are not recommended.
They are:

  • Expensive and don't taste nice
  • Contain just as much fat and calories as the non-diabetic versions
  • Can have a laxative effect
  • Can still increase your blood glucose levels


People with Diabetes can't eat sweet treats i.e. chocolate, puddings? No

Sweet treats are no more out of bounds to people with diabetes than they are to the rest of us. Occasional treats are fine. A great time to take a small treat is when you are out walking or digging the garden as activity helps to lower blood glucose levels. If you fancy a pudding after a meal try to reduce the starchy part of your meal i.e. potato/ bread/pasta/ rice/chapatti and then have the treat try not to be overgenerous as this will not only increase blood glucose levels but also contribute to weight gain. Remember it is the quantity and frequency of these foods that is important to limit.


Can I stop taking tablets for the Diabetes? No

Once you start to take medication for diabetes this means that you are no longer able to keep your blood glucose levels to within the normal range. Very occasionally individuals who lose a significant amount of weight can stop taking medication as their own bodies’ insulin functions better to lower blood glucose levels. Eventually everyone with type 2 diabetes will need medication however extra weight around the tummy mainly determines the rate at which this happens.


What can happen if my diabetes is uncontrolled?

In the long term poorly controlled diabetes can cause problems to other parts of the body:

Factors that increase the risk of complications are:

  • Smoking – this increases your risk of heart problems by 9 times (x9)
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure
  • Inactivity – being more active reduces your risk of heart problem by 30%

Research shows that maintaining blood glucose between 4-7 mmols/l most of the time strongly reduces the risk of these complications.