Kate Cornell, diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June of 2005, shares her experiences and lessons learned here and on her blog, kates-sweet-success.blogspot.com.

Dealing with diabetes is difficult enough, but when you add the frustration of misinformation about your disease, it can become overwhelming. Diabetes is a very complicated disease which affects different people in different ways. There are various types of diabetes as well as a myriad of medications to use to attempt to control it. Once you begin to find your way, you can often be faced with people whose idea of diabetes is anything but correct—and many of those people are more than happy to share their thoughts with you.

You can’t eat sugar

One of the biggest issues with misinformation is that once people hear something via media or snake-oil ads, they believe it and go on with their lives. It makes it extremely difficult to change someone’s mind or correct the bogus information. For instance: eating too much sugar causes diabetes. There are so many things wrong with this statement! First of all, the development of type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with diet. Secondly, developing type 2 diabetes is a complicated mix of insulin resistance and genetics and doesn’t come about from “just eating sugar.” Sugar in large quantities is bad for everyone, but people who have diabetes didn’t develop it simply from eating sugar. The media tends to gloss over the fact that there are other processed carbohydrates that can be just as hard on someone’s health.

There’s only one way to eat with diabetes

When it comes to diet, it is assumed that people with diabetes have to follow a specific food plan and that they have to avoid certain foods. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who use insulin need to pay attention to what they’re eating and calculate their insulin dosage based on how many carbs are in their meal or snack. Those on oral medications will, hopefully, have determined what foods they can eat that will keep their blood glucose in line and try to avoid those foods that cause it to spike. The reality is that people with diabetes must determine what type of food plan works best for them. No foods are forbidden, but there are some that can cause blood glucose issues. Each individual must figure those things out for themself.

Do this and you’ll be cured!

How many times have you had a well-meaning friend tell you, or read an article that says, that there is a way to cure your diabetes? Since so much emphasis is placed on losing a few pounds to help control type 2 diabetes, it is assumed that you can “get rid” of diabetes by eating a certain way, losing weight, and exercising like a fiend. Yes, there are some people with type 2 who are lucky enough to stop taking their medications after making lifestyle changes, but they aren’t cured. Folks who have type 1 can’t walk their disease away. There is no cure for any type of diabetes and having people assume that there is can cause lots of stress and frustration for those of us who are just trying to live our lives the best we can, despite diabetes.

Misinformation is more than frustrating—it can also cause harm; harm to those with diabetes and those who are at risk for developing type 2. While it’s important to try to educate those around you about life with diabetes, it’s equally important to remember that anyone who isn’t touched by this disease most likely won’t ever understand. Our focus should be on trying to eat in a way that makes our meters happiest, take our medications, and add exercise to our days. Diabetes is part of our lives, but it isn’t all of our lives. Educate yourself as to the best way for you to live with your diabetes and try to ignore the misinformation as best you can.

How do you deal with people who are misinformed about diabetes? Share your best tip by commenting below.