From what I’ve heard, people tend to divide the diagnosis of diabetes into three categories, two of which they suspect aren’t the real thing. Or at least not worth worrying about. Take, for example, diet-controlled diabetes. They’re not really sure if this is even worth mentioning, but they’ll take a shot anyway. “My sister might have something, I’m not sure, but she doesn’t have to take anything for it, as long as she eats right.” “Okay, so maybe diet-controlled diabetes?,” I ask. “Yeh, I think so,” comes the reply. More on this below.
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The second is diabetes controlled by oral medications. They’re not sure if this is the real thing either, but they figure they’ll mention it, just in case. “I think my dad has diabetes,” they might say, “but he just takes a pill for it.” When I reply with “Well, okay, that’s important to know,” they nod, and then look relieved to have done the right thing by bringing it up.
Then there’s insulin-requiring diabetes. No one doubts that this is the real thing. They may not understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but you obviously cannot argue with the fact that this version of the diagnosis involves the purchase and use of large quantities of needles.
Here’s what you want to know: they’re all diabetes. They’re all the real thing, and they all mean business. Here’s what else you need to know: As long as you do whatever is necessary to keep your sugars in the normal range, it doesn’t matter what you call it or how you do it. We must have the attitude that we will pay ANY price to keep our blood sugars in the normal range.
So let’s get back to diet-controlled diabetes. Guess what? We’re all diet-controlled, if you want to think about it that way, because working the program and choosing mostly whole foods significantly decreases your risk of raising your blood sugars above the normal range. To do this, include plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans), and nutritious fats like nuts and olive oil, all while eating whole grains instead of stripped grains and limiting processed food to the greatest extent possible. This would be like “diet-controlled, never-wanna-become" diabetes. You can't decrease your risk to zero, but you can certainly play the odds in your favor. Puff out your chest and proudly proclaim yourself "diet-controlled."
Here, on the other hand, are the ways to markedly increase your likelihood of becoming diabetic: regularly 1) drink soda (corn-syrup sweet is obviously worse, but diet is not risk-free); 2) eat well-advertised cereal for breakfast, white-bread sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for dinner; 3) buy frequent snacks from standard vending machines; 4) eat doughnuts; 5) eat regular meals of processed lunch meats or fast food; 6) skip fruits and vegetables most of the time; 7) skip breakfast; 8) race from activity to activity without a break; and 9) refrain from moving most of the time. Sounds like the American way of life! No wonder we have a diabetes and obesity epidemic.
Besides eating well, there are two other issues you may have noticed in the list above. To stay off the “diabetes-brick-road,” make time to quiet your mind and manage stress in a productive way. Keep sleep a priority. Then make a plan to increase your opportunities to move, keeping in mind that there’s no need to train for the Olympics. If you haven’t walked in years, then start with a 10-minute walk three times a week. Do yourself a favor and put it on the calendar.