So you’ve just been told you’re a type 2 diabetic. Now what?

Dave before and after.jpg

My first piece of advice:

Breathe.  Don’t panic.  Don’t freak out.   Don’t shut down.

Yes, it’s a scary diagnosis to be given.  Yes, it’s a life-changing moment.  Gone are the days when you could eat whatever you wanted without giving it a second thought.  Now you’re going to begin a system of trial and error.  Finding out what sends your sugar into orbit and what doesn’t.  The bad news is there’s no one size fits all.  A food item that spikes one diabetic’s sugar might not really affect you much.  The only way to find out is to keep testing after every meal.  You need to know the worst foods to avoid.  I can tell you common problem foods are pizza, white bread, potatoes and white rice.  And of course cookies, chocolate, cakes, pasta…and the list goes on.

Depending on the severity of your diabetes, there are a range of treatment options your doctor may choose.  You may be put on an oral drug, like Metformin.  That’s the one I was prescribed. There are a range of other pills your doctor may choose.  Or you may be put on insulin.

This is important.  Your doctor is going to give you a ton of advice.  Listen to it.  The absolute worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and just ignore your diabetes.  It’s a serious problem and it isn’t going to just go away.  With the right attitude it can be managed, and in some cases it can even be reversed,  I know this because I reversed mine.

There are two main causes of type 2 diabetes.  Genetic and lifestyle.  If your diabetes is genetic then there are fewer options, but it can still be managed.  My diabetes was caused by my lifestyle.  This is the one that can most likely be reversed.  By changing your lifestyle.

Basically I gained a lot of weight and was very inactive.  I didn’t really bother with any kind of exercise.  I was diagnosed in August 2008.  For several years I battled my disease.  At one point it got out of control and my fasting sugar was averaging 170.  That’s another thing.  The best way to see how you’re doing with your diabetes is to test your sugar in the morning before you eat or drink anything.  This is when you’ll have the most consistency.  Because your sugar is affected by not only WHAT you eat but also by HOW MUCH you eat.  That first thing in the morning test will give you the greatest consistency.

In December 2014 I went for a check up.  My A1C was 7.2.  The A1C measures your blood glucose over a 2 to 3 month period.  Non diabetics should have a number less than 6.0.  The higher the number the worse your diabetes is affecting you.  If you’re managing your diabetes you need to aim to keep that number as low as you can.  Mine was high enough the doctor wanted to put me on a second medication.  When we investigated this drug we found it’s strongly linked with causing liver issues.

No thanks!

This was the kick up the butt I needed.  I resolved to lose weight and get active.  In many cases simply losing weight and getting fit can be all you need to do to reverse your diabetes.  I joined an app called MyFitnessPal.  It’s a calorie counting app that lets you track the calories you’re burning.  It also helps you track the amount of nutrients; carbs, sugar, fiber, protein etc you’re eating.  A lot of people dislike the idea of calorie counting but I found it very effective and so simple to do.  The great thing about it is it makes it incredibly easy to maintain your weight loss.  Much better than the usual method of “going on a diet” by denying yourself certain foods until you lose the weight and then going back to your old eating habits…which is what caused you to gain weight in the first place.

A brief word about carbs.  You’re going to hear a lot about carbs.  Too many carbs will spike your sugar.  But your body needs a certain amount of carbs as they give your body energy.  Complex carbs are best.  There are plenty of sites out there that go into simple and complex carbs as this blog is going to be long enough already!  Switching to wholewheat bread and wholewheat pasta is a better option if you simply can’t give up those foods.

The other thing I did was start walking daily.  Walking led to running.  I followed a system called Couch To 5K.  Google it.  It’s a great way to start running if you think that would be a good way to go.  It’s a great calorie burner and the weight just seemed to fall off me once I started running.  Within a couple of months of this my fasting sugar was dropping into the 60’s!  I halved my daily dose of Metformin and my fasting was still in the 60’s.  I came off Metformin in April 2015 and I have been off it ever since.  I can’t guarantee you will have the same results I have but there is every chance you can get control of your disease and maybe you can also get off medication.  Good luck and I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.

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