Friday, 5 December 2014

My Fight Against Diabetes Part 1 - Diabetes Education

I still remember my doctor telling me not to make any big changes and to get educated about diabetes first.  My instinct was the complete opposite.  I didn't want to wait three weeks until the diabetes centre had an opening.  I needed to deal with this NOW!  But I fought the instinct and took my doctor's advice.

Now I know why she told me to do that.  There are a lot of myths out there regarding diabetes and there are also a lot of unaware people have adopted this bad information as gospel.  So you will be hearing this bad advice from people you love, people you trust and fellow diabetics; all of which are just trying to be helpful.  The diabetes centre was great for debunking this bad information.

For example, lots of people (including many diabetics) would give me advice about carbohydrates.  Most of it consisted of how you should be cutting it drastically from your diet  Yes, too many carbs is bad; but too little carbs is bad too.  It's kind of like suggesting the best way to avoid drowning is to never drink water again.

People will tell you what you can and can't eat.  Sometimes this is framed as "helpful advice" but I've even had people literally say "You can't eat that," in a restaurant.  They just saw carbs as some kind of poison.  They don't care about the glycemic index or how much of the carbs are dietary fiber.  Or how many there were in the meal.

The truth of the matter is, your body needs carbohydrates; moderation is the key.  For each meal I would have anywhere between 45-90 grams of carbs.  For a snack I would allow up to 30 grams of carbs

The other thing the diabetic centre made me aware of was the glycemic index.  Foods high on the index release glucose more rapidly; foods lower on the index release more slowly.  So for regular food I tried to stick with lower GI foods.

The centre also encouraged me to exercise, which is one of the best ways to manage type-2 diabetes.  They recommended both aerobic and strength training.  They gave me great information to help me along my journey; for example how to count net carbs properly (subtract dietary fiber from total carbohydrate count).

To be continued in part 2 where I will discuss my exercise and the impact of nutrition on cycling.

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