The Donuts and Diabetes Myth

by Leighann on November 26, 2012

Dunkin DonutsI recently volunteered to help check people in at a type 1 diabetes fundraising event and I heard something that stuck with me.

I don’t personally know all of the people who help with the event and I think that some of the volunteers were friends and family and maybe even coworkers of those who organized or sponsored the event.

One of the women who was helping with check in said something not once, but twice, that was a complete diabetes myth.

Let me say that this person was incredibly nice and I appreciate that she was out there on a cold, rainy morning volunteering her time.

Looking back I wish that I had corrected her.

“I just find it ironic that they have donuts at a diabetes walk.”

I wish that I had been awake and warm enough to say, “Actually, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder with no known cause and no cure. There is nothing that can be done to prevent it. Diet and exercise choices have no bearing on whether or not someone will develop type 1 diabetes. People with diabetes can certainly eat donuts as long as they have insulin to cover it.”

It’s so easy to complain when we see a television show or newspaper get it wrong. But what about people we face in every day life? Sometimes I just blow it off and chalk it up to not being educated or aware. Sometimes I do correct them. And sometimes I just don’t have it in me.

Updated: I should have mentioned and didn’t…the donuts were not there for the T1 kids and they weren’t there for the people attending the event. They were there for the adult volunteers who got up at the crack of dawn to give their time. I completely understand and appreciate the comments below. But the point is that donuts (or other foods) don’t cause type 1 diabetes and if the general public believes that then our kids (and us as their parents) will continue to be falsely branded as somehow causing it.

Further Reading

Dunkin Donuts Nutrition

Image courtesy Dunkin Donuts website.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle Nelson November 26, 2012 at 8:31 am

We have not bought a doughnut since our daughters diagnosis 3 years ago. Recently we went to Krispy Creme when the Hot light was on and treated ourselves to a delicious doughnut. Our little girl was soooo happy.
We bolused for the correct amount and it went as well as it could. It did us all good and most importantly our kid was a Kid First.

P.S. We avoided it in the past out a fear of how it would effect her BG. But we are getting better at it.


2 Amy Scheer November 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

You’re right–it is a myth–but I have to agree with her. We’re already bombarded regularly with candy given as rewards in school, donuts as birthday treats, that if someone could break the chain every once in a while, then those occasional treats can go back to being occasional. I have nothing against sweets, but I, too, was amazed when attending a JDRF open house and being offered chocolate cake, chocolate candies, and pop. I’m not diabetic–my son is–but I rarely eat that stuff myself! And when I asked half-jokingly for a carb count, the JDRF worker said to me, “HA! Good luck with that.”


3 Jett November 26, 2012 at 10:06 am

I like your blog but I have to agree with that lady. I am always mortified when I see the crap food but out at a T1 event. Just because T1s CAN have foods loaded with sugar, doesn’t mean they should. There are so many healthier choices to put out on a table!
I have a 5 year old T1 who eats very healthy and we have amazing results because of it. When talking to other parents of T1s that eat nothing but junk and they can’t seem to figure out why their numbers and A1Cs are completely out of wack….duh? Foods affect your body!


4 Tammy November 26, 2012 at 11:24 am

The donuts & diabetes myth is not untrue just for T1. You can live on a steady diet of donuts & you will most likely eventually become overweight, but unless you have the genes for T2, you won’t develop it. If you truly want to raise awareness about diabetes, you should provide correct info about ALL types.

I have to agree with the others as far as teaching our kids to eat healthy. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat, carefully bolused for, however the constant diet of over-processed, chemical-laden, high fat & high carb diet so common in this country is not good for any child, let alone a child with diabetes. We can argue the differences between T1 & T2 all day long but when it comes right down to it, both can lead to the same devastating complications. A steady diet of pizza, McDonald’s, mac & cheese (when did that become a main dish?)…not to mention the horrible school lunches…it’s a recipe for disaster for our kids.


5 Allison Nimlos November 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Ditto Jett. *Can* have, yes. *Should* have, no. And I always like to remind people that these foods work differently in different people. I have yet to have a bagel I could properly dose for and not suffer the consequences later. But I’ve had more cupcakes than I can count and have yet to regret it. 😉 Strange how something supposedly healthy could do more damage than the food that people fear.


6 Leighann November 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I know…sometimes when Q has oatmeal her blood sugar sky rockets, but give her a Toaster Strudel and she’s usually fine.

We buy the whole wheat mini bagels for the kids. Have you ever tried those?


7 jennifer minor January 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

My daughter is 9 years old and was diagnosed as a type 1 at the age of 3. Im not condoning feeding these kids full of junk food, but I do agree they are able to eat “donuts” on occasion as long as they have their insulin to cover it. If she eats something sugary, I give her insulin a lil earlier then I would with a healthy meal. They still have to be kids and get to enjoy some of the foods that other kids get to eat. When they are restricted 100%, that is when the resentment of diabetes comes in. Thankyou for posting!!


8 Laurie August 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Jennifer minor you are


9 Laurie August 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm

When people have diabetes, it’s not fair to eat “in front of them” the foods that they have to avoid. I know we have to live in the world and make different choices than non-diabetics do . Yes offer comfort food and caffeine to the volunteers. But be considerate, ok?


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