Sunday, November 30, 2008
To Eat or Not to Eat - A Diabetic's Perspective
Coping with diabetes must be unbearable at times. I hadn't realized just how difficult it is until yesterday when my mother broke down in tears (I've never seen her break down from this before -- it was heart-wrenching) and its been eating at my brain since and the even harder part is I can't do a whole lot about it -- doctor's advise is critical. For clarification, there's a distinct difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes which you often hear and read about. Type 2 is often brought on by the individual themselves through lack of physical activity and obesity (but not in every case) and accounts for 95% of all diabetics. It can often be cured with diet/exercise. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It is not curable and injections of insulin are needed to survive. Insulin's main role is to help move certain nutrients -- especially glucose -- into the cells of the body's tissues. Cells use sugars and other nutrients from meals as a source of energy to function. Here's the tricky part for a Diabetic -- everything that goes into your mouth must be monitored. You have to watch everything you eat (good carbs vs bad carbs - low glycemic vs high glycemic, etc), and you have to check your blood sugar constantly -- more so when your system is disrupted from surgery, stress, and any number of other reasons that cause of stress to the body. Normal sugar levels are between 80 and 150. You and I are lucky and never worry about it. We eat what we want, when we want, never thinking twice about how this might be affecting our sugar levels. We go about our daily routines and even throw in a run or bike ride every now and then with nary a worry. A diabetic thinks about it constantly, day in and day out. Food and drink affects their sugar level. Walking or any kind of exercise affects their sugar levels. Sleeping affects it. Its a daily routine of checking blood sugar numerous times a day and trying to figure out what's ok to eat and what's not and oh, that's right, I went for a walk so I better check my sugar level. Granted, most diabetics adjust to the routine and live with it quite well - as my mother did for many years. But open-heart surgery somehow whacked out her system and she's been dealing with extreme lows (as low as 29) and extreme highs (485). Both are extremely dangerous and can put a person into a coma. Mom knows to inject more/less insulin to control, but its SO frustrating for her now after 40 years of not dealing with the extreme ups and downs she's experiencing right now. She was eyeing up the fresh, locally grown near-organic (they aren't certified) Jonagold apple on her table, but the poor thing was afraid to eat it after just reading a blood sugar level of 485. Eating just took on a whole new meaning. To eat or not to eat. To eat what, and to not eat that. God bless diabetics.