Controlling Type II Diabetes...What Worked For Me
Managing Diabetes Shouldn't Feel Like Punishment
This hub is about ideas, snacks and other things that have helped me fight diabetes, but it’s not a “tips for success” piece. It can’t be.
What works for me may not work for you, and some of the things I do may not necessarily meet with the approval of your physician or diabetes educator.
But, if my weapons in this fight interest you, they may be worth mentioning to your healthcare providers.
In some cases doctors and educators will pass on ideas that patients present to them, if those ideas meet with the professional's approval.
I’ve had Type II diabetes since September of 2007, when I was 61 and terribly out of shape. My A1c was 8.4.
It was a wake up call that gave me the opportunity to get healthy and I was determined not to squander that opportunity.
I was hell-bent on beating this thing and immediately turned my eating habits around 180 degrees, and I started walking for exercise.
I weighed and measured food portions, kept an eagle eye on my carbohydrate, fat and caloric intake and experimented with a variety of snacks.
Snacks Were My Kryptonite
Night time snacking was my biggest problem because I would snack all night on candy bars, ice cream, popcorn…frequently all 3 the same night.
After a few weeks it wasn’t difficult adjusting to the smaller meal portions, but the snacking was still a problem.
I’d go through 2 or 3 pounds of baby carrots a week, and eat cucumbers, radishes, peppers. None of those satisfied my “snack habit.”
One serving of most snack chips is just a tease quantity and, to me, was a cause of frustration. But I dropped weight pretty quickly.
By the holidays, about three months later, I had lost 25 pounds. That was the motivating factor that helped me deal with the snack frustration.
We owned a retail store and I was active in our local Chamber of Commerce. I also was (still am) in a bowling league. As I lost weight all of those people noticed, and the praise and compliments flowed in.
That was extremely rewarding and motivational. I was afraid of failing before them. But I decided to turn that fear into a positive.
Without being obnoxious, I enthusiastically shared my diet and exercise successes with anyone who would listen, which was everybody.
That’s a rationalization of the bragging and gloating I did, but everybody patted me on the back and encouraged me, and would inquire on their own about how much more weight I had lost, or how my blood sugar numbers were doing.
I had an unwitting support group that was keeping me honest.
I knew that if I started gaining the weight back, they’d be on me like a pack of wolves, plus it would have been a terrible disappointment to my wife, who was so helpful.
I think I worried about letting her down the most.
Weight Loss Is All About The Eating
Start with a positive attitude, add a support group and some lifestyle adjustments (notice I said "adjustments," not necessarily changes) and you may be able to keep this dangerous disease at bay.
I learned of a snack that was an answer to my prayers. Tostitos has a product called Scoops which are tortilla chips shaped like little bowls.
The stated serving size is “about 13 chips.” For me, there was no “about” about it. It was 13 chips. The calorie count, 140, was a little higher than I liked but still not a deal breaker.
I would add a little dab of mayonnaise to it. Others can use the “lite” mayo but I used the regular industrial-strength stuff and got away with it.
Then I added the secret weapon…a cherry tomato or a grape tomato…and popped the whole thing into my mouth. WOW!
All at once you get crunchy, salty, juicy and a touch of sweet! It makes absolutely the best snack, and it pretty much solved my snack frustration.
As the months turned into years, though, I began to really miss my nightly ice cream fix. But I found a satisfactory alternative: Sugar Free Popsicles. I prefer their Tropicals assortment.
There are only 15 calories per pop. Of course, they come two pops conjoined by their wrappers and, not wanting to break up a pair, I’ll eat them both.
And because they're so refreshing, I’ll have another pair. So that’s a 60 calorie snack and, for me, it’s a real winner. It’s often the only snack I’ll have that night.
The one indisputable thing I discovered in this whole state of affairs, though, is that it’s all about the eating.
I would slack off the exercise for a few days and not notice anything different. But when I committed "dietary indiscretions" for a day or two, I'd be punished with an additional two or three pounds that took days, or even weeks, to get rid of.
Those little bouts of breaking your rules also hurts your blood sugar numbers and gives your pancreas a jolt besides.
So, here’s what worked for me:
● Eating sensibly. Eat suggested serving portions of safe foods. If you’re a snackaholic like I am, find a safe snack, that you really like, to soothe that savage beast.
Don’t deny yourself an occasional small helping of a “forbidden food” provided your numbers are OK. You’re working to get yourself healthy and it shouldn’t feel like a punishment.
● Exercise. Find an activity that you like. I hated gym class in school and I still hate it, so I would never go to the Y or a health club, no offense to both of those worthy and beneficial venues.
If I forced myself to do that, my heart wouldn’t be in it and I’d find every excuse to get out of it. Does that have a familiar ring?
I walk 3¼ miles a day, around 5 am because I’m an early riser, and the only things that keep me from my walks are rain, snowstorms, treacherous walking conditions and single-digit temperatures…teens if it’s windy.
● A support group. You can create your own. Share your quest with as many people as you can.
You’ll be amazed at the personal interest each will take in your progress, and you’ll gain strength and encouragement from them.
Also, when you’re feeling discouraged, you’ll probably find it quite easy to fall off the wagon and let yourself down. But it won’t be easy letting your supporters down.
I think what I'm most proud of is that I've maintained my weight loss. My doctor, and others, told me that most people who lose a lot of weight eventually put it all back on; sometimes even going beyond their original weight.
Losing the weight is, to me, the most important thing. It was a huge factor in getting my blood sugar back to normal, it got me off the CPAP machine and pretty much eliminated my sleep apnea; and it built self esteem. I even went down half a shoe size.
When I saw my shadow on the sidewalk, I actually had a neck! I was fitting into sizes I hadn't worn since the 70's, and my mobility was greatly improved; right down to the ease with which I was able to get out of my recliner!
Although I had never really noticed any soreness in my knees or ankles, I did notice how much more comfortable those joints are without having to support an extra 53 pounds.
And I did notice the improvement in back comfort. I can now stand for a period of time, peeling vegetables for example, without back soreness.
If you're one of millions struggling with diabetes, I wish you the best in restoring your health.
If you're one of the millions who is overweight, out of shape, sedentary, and love to eat, right now would be a very good time to choose to take action...before it becomes mandatory.
© 2012 Bob Bamberg