As you go forward in your new low-carb life, you’ll not only be explaining your diet (and thus your diagnosis and prediabetes itself) but you’ll encounter a number of misconceptions about your condition, three of which I have come up against fairly regularly.
The first misconception is that you cannot be prediabetic because “you aren’t fat!” Wow did I hear this a lot. While it’s true that the majority of people who get diabetes are overweight, many diabetics—and many of us who get prediabetes—are not. Being overweight can trigger prediabetes but the predisposition for it is genetic. Not only that, there is plenty of fat that people cannot see! It’s called visceral fat, and it’s not the love handles that people usually talk about. It’s the fat that surrounds your abdominal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines, where it interferes with production of inflammatory compounds and secretes a protein called RBP4 (retinol-binding protein 4) which increases resistance to insulin—a precursor to glucose intolerance and type 2.
This misconception is dangerous for the population at large because it keeps those prediabetics who are not overweight and who are unaware of their condition from seeking out a test or a diagnosis. Ironically, if these ‘normal weight’ folks eventually become type 2 diabetics they would be at twice the risk for mortality from heart disease and other type 2 related causes than would overweight diabetics. Scientists have not yet determined exactly why this is the case but they suspect one of the variables is a high proportion of fat to lean muscle.
Perhaps more surprisingly, this is happening more often to young, thin women who do not perceive themselves to be leading an unhealthy lifestyle, but who are making bad food choices, neglecting exercise and sitting at a desk— some of whom are on yo-yo diets which makes matters worse by losing muscle that would help burn visceral fat.
(And I can say, as someone who also spent way too much time in a sedentary mode and grabbing food on the go, I now have a fear of desk jobs. Too bad I’m a writer!)
The second, related, misconception is that because you eat ‘healthfully,’ you cannot be diabetic. I was known as one of these healthy eaters, yet my diet included plenty of excess sugar and carbs that no amount of salad could have counteracted.
The third misconception is that if you’ve gotten your blood sugar to a normal level, you can eat anything you want again. I always find that interpretation a bit funny because it makes prediabetes sound like a stomach virus in which you forego food until the condition passes and then you pig out. So not so! If you have already been prediabetic, you can easily get there again, especially if you revert to your former lifestyle.
(Speaking of that devil, I better sign off, get away from this desk and go for a walk.)