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Diabetes Three Months On

I’ve now had diabetes for three months. Or at least, I was diagnosed three and a half months ago. I probably had diabetes for a little longer and it was going unmonitored. I’ve learned a lot since my diagnosis, and I still have tons to learn. I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learned in the past 90 days. When I had my check-up with my diabetic nurse at the three month mark, she was proud of me for losing a stone of weight (14lbs), dropping my Hb1ac to “safe” levels, and for not having high cholesterol. I also at this point, have no need to go on medication, which is something I am VERY pleased with avoiding. At the end of the appointment, Karen told me “keep up the good work, I’ll see you in December”!!

By no means is this post meant as a definitive guide to diabetes, it’s just my personal observations and what’s worked for me. You can feel free to add comments with what works for you, but I would appreciate it if you don’t post negative comments. Like I said, what is working for me might not work for everyone. I had to wade though an awful lot of “you should do this/you shouldn’t do that” before I decided what was right for me. You’ll probably have to do the same.

+There are loads of different symptoms for Diabetes, but they also can be symptoms for other illnesses and you might not have any symptoms at all. I know, that’s not very comforting. The worst thing you can do is go through the list of symptoms to try to convince yourself you do or don’t have Diabetes. In the end, the only thing that can prove you do or don’t have it is a blood test.

+ Not only are there Type 1 and Type 2, but there also are people who are pre-diabetes, and women who only have gestational diabetes. I also just found out it’s possible to be both Type 1 and 2 at the same time.

+ All Type 2 diabetics are not alike. Some might take medications to help control their diabetes (pills), others might have insulin shots, and some like me don’t take any meds and are just on diet control.

+ To further complicate things, the same foods don’t trigger everyone, nor does the same diet/eating plan work for everyone. a lot of diabetics use a simplified Atkins diet, a South Beach diet, or a Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) diet. What’s been working for me is reducing my carb intake, and changing what kind of carbs I eat.

+ Refined sugar is bad any way you slice it, but we CAN allow ourselves the occasional treat at birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc. As long as you’re not going to a birthday party every week, that is!!

+Related to the above – I’ve learned to carefully think about “treats” before I have them. For example: Do I really want to eat that piece of grocery store cake or would I rather eat a homemade slice of sponge? Would I rather have Walls ice cream, or hold out for the local dairy?

+”White” foods shuold be avoided — white bread, white flour, white rice, potatoes, etc. The only white food I can think of that is okay would be egg whites…. and salt. Yeah. White = bad. LOL

+ “brown” bread, rice, and pasta really isn’t that much better for you, but you can get away with eating them. I apply the same rule to flour-based products that I do to treats above. I consider if I really want to “waste” my carbs before I eat. I wind up eating a lot of Ryvita instead of bread because I have decided not to spend my carbs on generic bread items.

+ Fruit = sugar. Not that I didn’t know this before, but the sugar in fruit isn’t something I’ve ever thought about before. Even the fruit that is supposed to be “good” for you can mess with your blood sugar levels. HOWEVER, some fruits contain “good sugars” or contain fiber, which means it’s slow release. Apples can be had in moderation, as they are full of fiber. It’s still better to eat a piece of fruit instead of a piece of chocolate.

+ Some vegetables contain sugar and are just as bad for you as a piece of fruit. Corn is bad. Potatoes are bad. Peas are ehhhh.

+ Reducing carbs is good. Like, amazingly good. And it’s been pretty easy for me, IMHO. For me, personally, I’ve cut out ALL rice. I’ve limited my bread intake, and now ONLY ever have brown bread/grainery bread/seeded loaves. I’ve limited my pasta intake by LOADS – down to once a fornight instead of several times a week and only use whole grain or spinach pasta. I didn’t eat potatoes for the first three months, then I was told an occasional potato was fine — as long as it’s no bigger than the space between your fingers if you take your thumbs and pointer fingers and make them into a circle with your fingers and thumbs overlapping at the nail. I also was told it’s okay to have three small egg-sized boiled new potatoes. Again, it’s all ON OCCASION, and depends on what else you’ve eaten in the day or with the meal.

+We’ve also cut out a lot of fast food. I think we were probably at the chippy, chinese, or pizza at least once a week before. Now, we go very infrequently, and usually only if we have other people over. At the chippy, I pick chicken nuggets or fish (and then don’t eat the breading) and Tim will get a large chips so I only eat a few chips instead of the lot. Chinese is pretty much ALL bad, but ours do omelettes, so I order one of those…I’ve found the Chinese/Oriental buffets are better options for me because there is such a large variety to pick from. We’ve only had pizza I think three times in the past three months…and again, that’s something I used to eat and make a lot!

+Don’t believe everything you read, because there will be conflicting information. Don’t believe everything your nurse tells you, either (particularly concerning the NHS diet guidelines if you want to go low carb). Go with what works for you. If you have a daily meter, use it and as they say on DAUK “eat to your meter” — that is, if something spikes you, either eliminate it or eat it less often, and if something doesn’t spike you, add it more often to your diet. I don’t have a meter as Karen told me I did not need one. I debate on and off about getting one, but it’s just one more thing for me to forget to do every day and if I can put off having to do it for a little bit longer, I will.

+Losing weight makes an immense improvement. Even just 5-10% of your overall body weight. My recent weight loss was more than 5%, but less than 10% of my original body weight. My goal is to lose at LEAST up to the 10% mark by August. The BMI chart claims I should actually lose about 50% of my original weight. However, I’m not going to stress myself out over it. If I drop 30-40%, I’ll be pretty darned happy.

+BMI charts aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Don’t ignore the BMI charts, but at the same time, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s a good guideline, but if you can’t meet your EXACT target for your height, don’t stress about it….

+Stress is bad for diabetes. Which is kind of ironic, because if you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, your stress level is probably sky high! But do try to eliminate the causes of stress in your life, or invest in learning some relaxation techniques.

+Let’s get back to sugar. You don’t have to avoid ALL sugar, just consume less of it. When you look at the nutritional information for items, look at the per 100ml or 100g and check the sugar content. Less than 10g of sugar per 100g is okay, but under 5g per 100g is even better. I also was told if an item has a higher sugar rating, but most of the sugar comes from fruit, it’s okay to have. Fruit juice is okay, provided you don’t have a lot of it (100ml) and you drink juice made from fruit not concentrate (the innocent juices are great!).

+should you count carbs? That’s up to you. So far, I haven’t sat down and done an exact count on how many carbs I have per day, but I do know that I am having less carbs than before simply because I have been eliminating items I formerly ate daily. But I still look at the number of carbs in what I eat, and just like with bread and cake, I decide if it’s worth spending my carbs on. I just got myself a Collin’s Little Gem carb count book (used on Amazon UK for 1p!) so I can look up food while we’re on holiday. The carb book doesn’t list sugar, however, so you’ll have to use your judgement there.

+You CAN still have alcohol, just less of it. A half pint instead of a pint, a single rum and diet coke, etc. I’ve chosen to eliminate alcohol from my diet, though I probably will have a few diet shandys (from a tin or made by me with diet lemonade) while we’re on holiday.

+You also don’t have to give up chocolate! I was told that two fingers of a Kit Kat bar are okay, eating 2 Cadbury’s Heroes/Celebrations/Roses/Quality Street are okay, etc. But like anything else, I consider what I’m having first. I’d rather get to eat a small square of dark Lindt or Ritter Sport over something more generic.

+Foods labelled as “Diabetic” are not the end all and be all. Did you know that Frank’s Diabetic ice cream actually has MORE sugar in it than regular Wall’s ice cream? If you read labels, you can tell which items are better for you. In many cases, the “full fat” versions of items actually contain less sugar than those labelled as “diet”, “low fat”, or “fat free”.

+Just because something says it’s safe for diabetics or is sugar free doesn’t mean you can gorge yourself on it. Some of the artificial sweeteners can cause a laxative effect, something you don’t want!

I think that’s everything I’ve learned from various sources in the past few months. If I think of any more, I’ll add them! I hope this post can help other people.

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1 Comment so far

  1. falnfenix June 23rd, 2012 13:52

    + Some vegetables contain sugar and are just as bad for you as a piece of fruit. Corn is bad. Potatoes are bad. Peas are ehhhh.

    corn is a grain and potatoes are tubers. neither are vegetables. 🙂

    sprouted bread, if available, is also a better option than regular old Wonder.

    look for quinoa pasta if you can find it (in your area, you might not be able to, but i know in the US it can be found at Super WalMart if you look hard enough). quinoa is a carb-free superfood. i believe it’s also gluten-free. quinoa itself is a seed but cooks up like rice and works as a rice substitute in most meals. it tastes a little nutty. and it’s filling as all hell.

    I’d rather get to eat a small square of dark Lindt or Ritter Sport over something more generic.

    i can’t stress this enough: higher quality dark chocolate is better than cheap-ass milk. by leaps and bounds.

    i’m so proud of you. 🙂

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