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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Diabetes Channel
Reported September 13, 2004

Changing the Diabetic Menu

BOSTON (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Sugary foods like cookies, cake and candy have traditionally been off limits for people with diabetes but not anymore. Now dieticians are dispelling the most common myths surrounding the diabetic diet of the past.

Nancy DelPrato is about to break one of the oldest rules of a diabetic diet. And surprisingly, she's doing it with the help of registered dieticians, Karen Chalmers and Amy Peterson, who are co-authors of "16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet."

"When people have diabetes, their first focus is always sugar, thinking they have to avoid it," Chalmers, of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, tells Ivanhoe.

But the focus should be on all carbohydrates, from the sugar in candy to the starch in potatoes and bread.

DelPrato is allowed 60 grams of carbs at dinner, so when she has apple pie for dessert -- 45 grams -- Chalmers and Peterson, also of Joslin Diabetes Center, suggest she eat only one slice of bread at 20 grams.

"You can eat any food you want in proportion as long as you stay within the guidelines of the carbs," DelPrato says.

Changing the Diabetic MenuAnother common myth is that diabetics can eat as many sugar-free foods as they want. But the words "sugar-free" can be misleading. This ice cream bar is sweetened with NutraSweet but still has 13 grams of carbohydrates, the same amount as a regular ice cream bar.

"If a food has carbohydrate listed on the label, then it's going to affect your blood sugar. If it says zero on the label, like a can of diet soda, then it will not affect your blood sugar," Chalmers says.

She and Peterson say the old, strict diabetic diet is a thing of the past.

"People often call us and say, 'Could I have a copy of the diabetic diet,?' and we just have to say, 'There is no diabetic diet, anymore,'" Peterson says.

Changing the Diabetic MenuWhile eating dessert isn't the healthiest choice, these dieticians say indulging from time to time is OK as long as you know how to fit it in.

Neither dietician promotes junk food but rather good health and flexibility for diabetics. By the way, both women say a candy bar has the same amount of carbohydrates as a baked potato, so the effect on a person's blood sugar is exactly the same.

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

If you would like more information, please contact:

American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311

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