Sunday, November 1, 2015

Diabetes Awareness Month

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November 1st marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month and I thought it would be appropriate to share a post to kick things off.

There's a pretty hefty question that's been on my mind this year, and that is:

"Can diabetics eat whatever they want?"

Honestly, the answer to that question is no.  They CANNOT eat whatever they want.

I had to learn this the hard way.  I struggled with my numbers for 18 years before I realized my eating habits had to change if I wanted to see improvements in my numbers.  My blood sugars were constantly in the 200s, 300s, 400s, and even 500s for all those years and my A1Cs were always over 10.  Why?  Because I ate whatever I wanted and didn't care about what they did to my numbers.  I just cared about being (or appearing to be) "normal".

It wasn't until this year that I realized I had to stop eating all those sugary, carb-filled foods if I wanted to see consistently normal blood sugars that would allow me to safely get pregnant.  There's just no way to have normal blood sugars and eat whatever you want.  The insulin can't keep up with the carbs, no matter how you bolus or pre-bolus.  It's impossible.

Simply put, diabetics CANNOT tolerate carbohydrates.

Can those with peanut allergies tolerate peanuts?  No.

Would you tell them to eat peanuts anyway and just take an Epipen shot for them?  No!

So why oh why do doctors push carbohydrates on diabetic patients when diabetics cannot tolerate them?

Spikes in blood sugar from carbs cause more complications than your doctor will tell you.  At 140 mg/dl, nerve damage takes place but doctors urge their patients to keep higher blood sugars and higher insulin doses because they're scared of being sued if a diabetic dies from a low blood sugar!

The best way to minimize your complications later and maximize your life expectancy is to cut the carbs!  The fewer carbs you eat, the less insulin you need, the fewer highs and lows you will have, and the easier it is to keep your blood sugars where they should be (70-100).  83 is considered normal blood sugar.  The rule of small numbers is the best way to go about eating...small number of carbs = small insulin doses = less room for high spikes and low valleys.

Many diabetics follow a low carb diet that consists of no more than 30g of carbs a day.  They eat lots of healthy fats, meats, and vegetables and maintain A1Cs in the 4s and 5s.  This is what diabetics need to do if they want to live a long healthy life.

Unfortunately, many of them have not seen the light yet.  Many of them believe that their doctors know best and they are happy "being able" to eat whatever they want.  Many of them follow that path and go on to suffer from numerous complications, including neuropathy, blindness, and loss of legs, fingers, toes, and arms.

These complications honestly never used to scare me, even while I watched other family members experience them.  I had that "invincible" will never happen to me, I'm still too young for that to be something to worry about, etc.  I'm now ashamed that I didn't care more.  I can't tell you how much better I feel physically and mentally, and how empowered I feel by stepping up and taking charge of my care.   

I recommend Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution if anyone wants to read about the approach to which I now subscribe.  Dr. Bernstein has been a type 1 diabetic for over 70 years and he put the low carb diet into action for many diabetics.

He's saved my life.  Will you let him save yours?  

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