Most of us believe in some of the myths about diabetes. Even the American Diabetes Association.
The ADA has a pretty good list of what it thinks are the main myths. But a lot of us think that its “myth #5” is in fact a fact. “If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta,” the ADA says.
Whoa! Is our leading diabetes organization still ignorant of the glycemic index? Does the largest diabetes organization in the United States and probably in the world think that we can eat large amounts of starchy foods that play havoc with our blood glucose levels?
While the way the ADA states its “myth #5” sounds straightforward, it backtracks a long way in the way it explains it:
“Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan. What is important is the portion size. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. The key is portions. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods is about right. Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.”
Everything in this explanation is correct. Portion size is important, and that’s certainly the same thing as “small amounts” of starchy foods. When we have three or four servings of foods that are high in carbs it can make sense when we remember that most carbs aren’t the infamous starchy ones like bread, potatoes, and rice.
Low-glycemic veggies are technically “carbohydrate-containing foods.” So I can accept the ADA position to include three servings of low-carb veggies and one serving of a low glycemic index high fiber grain.
“The ADA seems to be dancing around this issue,” a good friend of mine says. I agree and think the organization doesn’t dance on carbs any better than I do on the dance floor.
Until a couple of evenings ago I didn’t think about the ADA’s diabetes myths. But a game about deciding if certain statements are myths or facts was one of the most interesting parts of a training session for health care professionals I attended in Denver.
The session taught those professionals and this journalistic observer some great new ways to enhance the education of people with diabetes. Emphasis is on building interactive dialogue so that we can improve our self-management.
It’s the U.S. Diabetes Conversation Maps. The ADA worked with an organization called Healthy Interactions Inc. to develop the training. Right now they are rolling it out to the 10,000 health care professions that they will train in the next three years.
They call them maps because they use 3 foot by 5 foot graphics in the form of road maps to guide conversations between the health care professionals and groups of up to 10 people at a time. The maps are neat visual gimmicks.