Health — April 20, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Keeping Life Sweet: A Series on Getting Healthy with Diabetes, Part 2

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This is the 2nd installment in a 6-part series by Staff Writer, Maegan Carrasquillo, on living with diabetes.

One of the first things you learn about when you’re diagnosed with diabetes is carbohydrate counting. You learn that sugar is counted in the carbohydrates, a factor that determines how much insulin you administer, and most nutritionists will tell you to avoid foods with a high sugar or fat content. One thing you’ll learn about me is I’m terrible at following rules. Honestly, prior to being diagnosed I barely ate candy or craved sweets, but once I was told I couldn’t have something, well…

Now that I’m focused on changing my diet for the better, I’m also learning new things. First, I don’t like salad. The only way I’ll eat a salad is if I put a ton of stuff on it that isn’t healthy thereby totally defeating the purpose. Second, permanent diet changes can take multiple tries and what works for one person might not work for another. I’ll admit automatically imagining myself drinking water while smiling and eating a salad was probably silly, but, in my defense, it was my first attempt. Since January I’ve changed not only the way I look at food, but also the foods I eat. I read about different diets that improve blood sugar readings, boost energy and are overall healthier. Since none were ones I could completely stick to, I’ve now decided to keep what worked and create my own special diet.

My diet wasn’t the absolute worst before, but I did indulge in sweets and some spicy fast food chicken sandwiches. I also drank diet soda like it was going out of style. After trying to completely cut it out I quickly learned that my withdrawal symptoms were a bit heinous and I may have frightened my family some days. I’ve limited the amount of diet soda I keep in the house and tend to reach for water more. I also bake one dessert on Sundays and will have that with Sunday dinner. If there is any left over, I try to stretch it throughout the week but once it is gone, I don’t eat anything sweet until the following Sunday.

I’ve also realized that I would buy healthy foods but not eat them as frequently because they were inconvenient. My fridge was constantly stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables but if it was movie night, I’d grab popcorn or chips instead of the produce. Now, I cut up fruit and vegetables that I buy for snacks ahead of time. I feel better about the snacks I’m consuming, and no longer waste as much money on well-intentioned snacks that go bad in the refrigerator produce drawer.

Not only am I putting a bit more money back in my pocket, but the collateral bonus of making these dietary changes is that they have also benefited my family’s health. As a family we’re working on eating out less. Sure, there are restaurants that have healthy options on the menu, but we’ve never gone there anyway, so we’ve limited how often we’ll indulge to special occasions or necessity if we’re away from home for the day.

I’ve also seen changes in my blood sugar readings. In the beginning they were all over the place. Some days I would start out with a higher reading and as the day progressed, I would have multiple low blood sugar readings. When someone makes significant changes to their diet, it affects their blood sugar because their body is used to the food they eat and the medicine they take. When I began eating food with less saturated fat and sugar my body needed less insulin even though the carbohydrate count might have been the same. After a few months with these changes my blood sugar readings are getting better and steadier.

Making changes to my diet has been difficult, especially with a child, because of the extra time and attention involved and changes to our family’s routine, but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I have more energy and feel more alert. Maybe you’ve also been thinking about making a change to your diet. My best advice is to start with small changes and not to get upset if a specific diet doesn’t work for you because we’re all different. The changes I’ve made weren’t to lose weight so I needed something I could really stick with long term. I look at this as a life change, not just a diet change.

Hopefully my next steps are just as rewarding and you can follow my progress, right here, on the Focus on Good Health blog as my six-part series continues all year long.

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. None of the information presented is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This is a personal account and individual experiences may vary. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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