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Myths Surround Diabetic Diet

Karen Chalmers, a registered dietician with the Joslin Diabetes Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, discusses nutritional guidelines for people with diabetes on Thursday's The Early Show.

She is the author of "16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet."

She says there are no foods that people with diabetes have to avoid. They can fit in almost anything as long as it is done in a healthy and balanced way.

Alcohol, juice, and anything else in liquid form can cause fluctuations in the blood sugar. Most people drink 8 to 12 ounces at a time, which is too much. A serving of any juice or soda is about 6 oz. Portion size is a big problem with a lot of people. Large portions of any carbohydrate foods are going to raise the blood sugar.

People with diabetes or people who risk diabetes can control their blood sugar levels nutritionally. Patients at the Joslin Diabetes Center monitor their blood sugar with a blood glucose monitor. They monitor their carbohydrate intake and spread it out over the day. Most people are given a carb allowance per day. They have a certain amount of carbohydrates they can have at each meal based on their diabetes medications, age and activity level.

Most people with diabetes can eat a bowl of ice cream as long as they are aware of what the appropriate portion size is. Most people eat more than the portion size that is listed on the container.

People need their doctor's consent to drink alcohol, because it can interfere with medications they are taking. Most people with diabetes are told not to drink alcohol because it tends to lower blood sugar levels.

People with diabetes cannot consume endless amounts of foods that are "sugar-free." Most sugar-free foods have carbohydrates. Sugar-free ice cream, cookies and candies still have carbs - so read the label. Some have the same amount of carbs as the foods with sugar, so they can still impact blood sugar. Unfortunately, most people think they can eat endless amounts of these foods because they don't contain sugar. That is not true. They will still affect the blood sugar.

To participate in an online discussion group about diet with experts at the Joslin Diabetes Center, click here.

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