In our Ask an Expert series, Beverly Thomassian answers commonly asked patient questions.
Help! I’m an over-corrector
Anytime I have a blood sugar low, I take it as license to eat. Muffins, chocolate, pizza—you name it. As a result, I gained 8 pounds last year! How can I tame this habit?
First, if you are getting low blood sugars a few times a month, it could be a sign you are taking more diabetes medication than you need. Talk to your provider about decreasing your diabetes medication dose. If that’s not the case, then try and follow the 15 -15 rule: If your blood sugar is less than 70, try to limit yourself to only eating 15 grams of carbohydrate and then recheck blood sugar in 15 minutes and if still below 70, eat 15 more grams. Have preplanned 15 gram carb snacks easily available such as; small box of raisins, an apple, a 6oz juice box.
Guilty and down in the dumps
Type 2 diabetes runs in my family. For the last two years, my doctor has told me to lose 25 pounds because my blood sugars put me in the pre-diabetes range. Well, now I have full-blown type 2. I feel guilty and depressed. How can I find the motivation to do what I need to do?
Start by giving yourself permission to let go of the past. Be encouraged that even though you have diabetes, you can still have a healthy life. Starting today, write a list of what brings you joy in your life. This “joy list” can be used to light your spark of motivation and encourage small changes in your activity level and eating habits. Commit to making one change that you can realistically accomplish. For example, “I will drink water instead of soda” or “I will get up and move every hour”. Also meeting with a diabetes educator or attending a support group can be very helpful.
Confused about “good” and “bad” foods
I’m newly diagnosed with type 2 and confused: I thought I would have to cut out sugar. But my diabetes educator tells me no foods are off limits. Isn’t the sugar in foods making by blood sugar levels high?
Yes, you can eat foods with sugar, you just have watch portion sizes and not eat too much at one time – a strategy called “carb counting”. Many starchy foods are healthy and are full of nutrients and fiber, even though they are broken down to sugar in your blood. These include fruits, whole grains, milk, beans and starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn etc.). Other carb sources such as desert and snack foods, offer less nutritional value, so they would be considered a special treat to enjoy on occasion. And if possible, avoid sugary drinks and sodas to help with weight and blood sugar control.