In my previous post, I indicated I would write to discuss what I did to get my blood glucose under control after being newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The first thing I did was buy a glucose meter and start testing myself. My numbers were clearly super high all the time, constantly over 200 mg/dL and sometimes would even spike to over 300 mg/dL. I think the lowest reading I may have seen during the first few days was 190 something, and that was only because I had gone for a walk (which helps burn off some blood glucose). I knew it would require a lot of testing and work to get my blood glucose measurements back in a normal range and it wouldn’t happen overnight. So I started restricting my carbohydrate intake and replacing the carbohydrates with fats. I gave up brown rice, pasta, breads, potatoes, grains, etc, as all of those things spiked me awfully (and of course, no sweets, not even fruits). In addition to increasing my intake of fats, I also increased my intake of fiber. I started eating many many vegetables. And yes, I had to be really careful about which vegetables I ate as well as some of the starchier ones would spike me.
For me, it wasn’t a huge deal to lower my carbohydrate intake as I had already been working on reducing my carbohydrate intake for the past few years as I knew type 2 diabetes ran in my family and my minority group is high risk risk for diabetes. Plus fats are delicious, so I didn’t mind replacing carbs for fats as they made me feel very satiated after a meal. I had no concerns about my cholesterol at the time since my lipids were excellent (with the exception of my HDL or “good cholesterol”, which had always been a bit on the low side because I didn’t exercise as much) so I was determined to get my blood glucose under control, even if my cholesterol got bumped up for a bit.
So I started eating and testing away. I tested before eating and two hours after eating. I recorded every single number and meal I ate on a sheet so I could then refer to it and find patterns/trends. Within the first 6 days, my blood glucose numbers were already consistently under 200. Within two weeks, my numbers were in a healthy range: in the low 100s or even less. Of course, sometimes I would make a mistake and eat too much of a veggie that was too starchy, which would cause me to bump up again. There was a lot of trial and error involved to find what foods I could tolerate and which ones were a no-go (and it was quite discouraging sometimes as it seemed like almost EVERYTHING was a no-go).
In addition to experimenting with different foods to find what worked for me, I also started going for walks strategically throughout the day as I found it lowered my blood glucose 30 or 40 points. Before being diagnosed, I would walk for about 20 minutes a day after work and would go for longer walks during the weekends. I kept my 20 minute walk after work as it lowered my glucose from my lunchtime high so I would be in a good range before eating dinner (which was the meal where I would usually spike the most as I was still experimenting with different foods). I also started going out for 15-20 minute walks after dinner, as soon as I was done with the last bite of food. If I wasn’t able to go out for a walk after dinner that day, I would at least make sure I was moving around a bit (doing dishes, doing some house cleaning, vacuuming) to help control my blood glucose. Any amount of activity REALLY helped.
A month and a half later, when my appointment dates finally arrived so I could go see my doctor, nutritionist, and diabetes educator nurse, my numbers were very well controlled. I took in all my data, food log, and fancy charts I made to show my progress and ask questions. They were quite impressed with my progress and I wasn’t put on medications. Hooray! The only thing we saw was that maybe I was consuming a bit too much protein now that I was restricting my carb intake, which I would indeed agree with. I was eating a LOT of protein and it was delicious! My cholesterol did end up bumping up a bit (argh), nowhere near super high or dangerous, but I can’t let it continue in that direction. So I am working on finding an appropriate carbs/protein/fats ratio for me, which may take a while to figure out. Although my cholesterol went up a bit, my A1C (which measures blood glucose control over the past 3 to 4 months) showed excellent improvement in that short amount of time. Within six weeks of working to lower my blood glucose levels with carb restriction and walking, it went down from a whopping 9.7% to 7.2%. Woohoo! Time to celebrate! Plus, I have to say, after lowering my carb intake I feel better than I ever have. I have more energy than ever and my unexplained acid reflux disappeared. Win!
Since my last appointment with my doctors, my blood glucose has still continued to remain under control. I am now starting Phase 2 of living a healthier lifestyle, which is vigorous exercise multiple times a week. My goal is to gain some lean muscle as more muscle will help burn more glucose (I have never had much muscle at all, even when I have worked out in the past). Therefore, I have been doing a combination of cardio, resistance training, and interval training workouts. Other days, I go for longer walks (40 minutes or so). It is exhausting and takes a lot of work, but I feel so much better after working out. Plus it helps control my spikes, I feel I don’t spike as high when I eat some of the starchier vegetables. I am hoping that the combination of exercise, continuing on a low carbohydrate diet, and working to find the right carb/fat/protein ratio for “me” will continue helping with the management of my blood glucose and will lower my cholesterol a bit so it returns to the levels it used to be at. Little by little, I am improving my health. I am thankful that I work at a great company that does health risk assessments for it’s employees. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even know I had this going on inside of me as I didn’t present any obvious symptoms. I am one of the lucky people that actually is diagnosed! Although managing this condition isn’t my favorite thing in the world, being diagnosed allows me to take control and do something about it. There are many people out there that have issues metabolizing glucose and don’t even know it until the condition has progressed significantly and complications have started rearing their ugly head.