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You Can’t Eat That! And Other Bad Advice

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was seven years old. Along with the diagnosis came a lot of well meaning advice from family members and friends.

The most commonly offered advice was “You can’t eat that!” This would happen when I’d have cake at a friend’s birthday party or I’d drink a soda when my blood sugar was crashing after basketball practice. What these people didn’t understand is that I was choosing what was best for me, and I was balancing my intake of carbohydrates from all forms—including cake, cereal, bread, pasta, fruit, fruit juice, and soda. I was and still am managing my diabetes well.

Managing diabetes is all about balancing what you eat with your activity level, stress, medication, and sleep. It’s an on-going process, something I work on every day. I became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) so I could help others learn how to balance their food and beverage choices.

It bothers me that people demonize certain foods and ingredients. Right now, many people are demonizing not only sugar but also low-calorie sweeteners.

Research shows that added sugars can be part of a balanced diet. If you’re consuming sugar as part of a healthful diet including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy, that’s okay. And if you’re choosing low-calories sweeteners to control calories as part of your healthful diet, that’s okay, too. Research shows low-calorie sweeteners are a safe, effective tool for weight management.

Instead of focusing on single ingredients or foods, shift your focus to the overall balance of your food and beverage choices. An occasional soda is okay. A daily diet soda is fine. Instead of agonizing over specific foods or ingredients focus on the overall quality of your diet.

You know what’s best for you. Now go forth and choose it!


Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has lived well with Type I diabetes for more than 38 years. The owner of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, Inc., she consults with a variety of food and beverage clients on issues related to nutrition and health. 

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