Sunday, November 8, 2015

People with type 2 diabetes can eat anything in moderation, or can they?

This subject, when discussed, can quickly turn into a heated argument. Many people with type 2 diabetes can currently control their blood glucose by adjusting their diet and adding exercise. Others do that and also take oral medications. Still others are using injected insulin to help control their blood glucose. Nearly all of the advice you can find online (or from a physician’s office) tells patients that they can continue to eat pretty much whatever they want, with some adjustments like whole grains vs white foods, etc. Moderation is the key. Well, as someone who can’t eat just anything she wants, I often take issue with this advice. I feel it leads patients to think that they’re ok if they just moderate and they often don’t test before and after a meal or snack to see what’s really going on inside their bodies.

Today, I did something incredibly stupid. Instead of just being mad at myself, I decided to use a bunch of test strips and do an experiment. I had a theory and I wanted to test that theory. You know… science stuff.

So what stupid thing did I do? Let me tell you.

I went to the grocery store at about 10 AM in the hopes of beating the crowd. I hadn’t eaten a thing (which, lately, isn’t all that unusual. I know, don’t judge me.) I had taken my meds with my daily concoction of psyllium husk (fiber) and warm water (homemade Metamucil without all the junk they add). I wasn’t hungry and my shopping list consisted of good things like veggies and stuff.  I needed to buy a loaf of bread for my mom so I found myself near the bakery and goodies. No worries, I had self-control. And then I saw it: a Hostess Lemon Pie. They never have lemon but today they did. Before you go “ewwww, why would you want that?” I need to explain that I am a whore for lemon. Lemon pie, lemon loaf from Starbucks, lemon cookies, lemon E V E R Y T H I N G!!!!! I used to eat these horrid things and I had a wave of nostalgia come over me. “Surely, one wouldn’t hurt me! ‘They’ say I can eat anything in moderation!” (Even though I know better.) I bought it. I inhaled it in the car. It was horrible. As I’m licking the disgusting sugar glaze off my fingers I realized what I had done and was ashamed. I felt like a drug addict in a back alley shooting up my Precious. Gawd, what an idiot.

After I got home with the groceries (and Ray helped me put them away. He’s a gem) I decided to check my blood glucose to see what damage I had done. It had been about 20 minutes since I had gorged. 124. What? I had started out with a 130 fasting reading. This can’t be right! Instead of gloating and thinking I had gotten away with something, I decided to continue to check at one hour intervals. Here are the results:

1 hour:  193
2 hours: 243 (began consuming mass quantities of water.)
3 hours: 201 (it’s coming down!!)
4 hours: 157 (I have a stomach ache.)
5 hours: 108 (YAY! Still have a stomach ache but I will eat dinner.)

I decided to stop checking after 5 hours, mostly because I saw such a great number on my meter. I had eaten nothing else all day other than a couple of spoon licks and cups of green tea. Someone out there is thinking, “Well your liver probably dumped because you didn’t eat, moron.” I beg to differ. Although I’m not a doctor or scientist I’m pretty sure my liver would realize that I was already dealing with way too much glucose in my system. Maybe not, but it really doesn’t matter. There is no way I felt like eating anything. Stomach ache, fuzzy head, guilt, remorse and I wanted to see what would happen.

So my theory was that the horrible, no-good, very bad thing I ate would eff up my blood sugar for hours and hours. My testing shows that my theory was pretty darned accurate. So why in the world am I confessing this STOOPID mistake to you? To educate.

When someone has diabetes and they don’t use insulin to control their blood glucose, they can’t necessarily eat whatever they want if they desire a longer and healthier life. One of the problems with type 2 is that we don’t always see immediate ramifications for our actions like our type 1 friends do. If we splurge or continue to eat in an unhealthy way, we don’t go into DKA or throw up or any of those other unpleasant results. We don’t realize that high blood glucose is coursing through our arteries, toasting our kidneys and eyes; ruining our nerves, unless we check. Unless we use our meters to learn what different foods do to our blood glucose. We can’t/shouldn’t wait 3 months to see what our A1c shows. It won’t show this awful high I had today because I will attempt to get back on track tomorrow and my lower readings will negate this high.

I was an idiot: a very human idiot who just impulsively ate something she shouldn’t. Will I eat a Hostess Lemon Pie again? HELL NO! (it was truly horrid) Will I ever eat something I “shouldn’t”? You bet I will. Will I do it all the time? Nope. I care enough about my future to attempt to control what I eat and whip the beast called diabetes into submission to the best of my ability.

I’m pleading with you now. Please, please, please think about what you’re eating on a daily basis and make adjustments as you can in order to try to control your blood glucose. I don’t care if you eat low carb, high fat, low fat, Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo or cinnamon-okra water. Just pay attention. Use your meter. Care enough about yourself to pay attention and learn. I was an idiot and, because of that, maybe you won’t be.