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How I Learned to Control My Diabetes

By using my personal experiences to reach out, I aim to help others in their dark times.

how-i-learned-to-control-my-diabetes

Diagnosed

My diabetic journey starts in 2016 when I was having symptoms but had no idea what was wrong with me. I was constantly feeling thirsty and hungry but nothing ever seemed to satisfy my cravings.

I was feeling more fatigued than normal and eventually, I got an infection and had to go to the doctor. They did a blood test on me and found my blood sugar numbers were above 600. Normal blood sugar or blood glucose levels should be around 140 after eating and between 70 and 100 when fasting. The doctor was shocked by my levels and gave me a high dose of metformin, a common drug prescribed to people who have type 2 diabetes.

This was a major shock to me as well. It’s usually hereditary but as far as I know, I don’t have any immediate family on either side who had been diagnosed with diabetes. I started with 600 milligrams of metformin (I think), 1 tablet twice a day. The first few days when my blood sugars started to drop to a normal level my body reacted by becoming shaky, and I was getting headaches and feeling sick to my stomach.

After a few months, my sugars were leveling out but they were still high. I knew I needed to change my diet but I didn’t know where to start, I still had a lot of sugary and carb-heavy foods and drinks at home. I was dumb and decided to finish off what I had at the house before I began my diet change.

how-i-learned-to-control-my-diabetes

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

I did my research and looked over the little guidebooks and pamphlets my doctor had given me and began to buy healthier food options. I wasn’t fully aware that carbohydrates turned into sugar in your body. My doctor just assumed I knew this, so they only mentioned cutting out sugars.

I didn’t cut out carbs but tried to completely cut out sugar. I was eating healthier, and I thought it would do the job. I found a lot of “diabetic friendly” recipes that still allowed for brown rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, and many other high carbohydrate foods. It was hard to change my diet and it was especially difficult when I learned that I needed to stop eating carb-heavy foods too. My diet before I was diagnosed consisted of pasta, rice, and potatoes as staple foods because I lived on a budget. These are the cheapest options for bulk foods so I bought and ate them often.

While I changed my diet I didn’t force my boyfriend to change his, so we started buying two different types of food for each of us. It got expensive and I went back to eating brown rice and pasta but in moderation. My sugar levels were about average, still slightly high at times but not anywhere close to what it was in the beginning. After I changed my diet, my blood sugar numbers averaged about 165-175 after I would eat so it wasn’t terrible, but I was still considered actively diabetic.

I struggled with changing my exercise habits as well. I worked a full-time desk job, sitting on my butt for 40+ hours a week and being exhausted from working when I had time off. Luckily, around this time the mobile game Pokemon Go came out. My boyfriend got into it first and after a couple of weeks, I got into it as well. This gave me a reason to go for walks after work to hunt down and capture those cute little creatures.

After I quit my job due to other health complications, I continued to go for walks around my neighborhood playing this game and getting exercise. This really helped lower my blood sugar levels because I was eating better and I was being more active.

how-i-learned-to-control-my-diabetes

Finding Keto

In 2019 while I was looking for new diabetic recipes to try I stumbled upon the Keto diet. It’s a diet that cuts out almost all carbs and uses healthy fats and protein to fuel your body. Because most people’s bodies use carbohydrates and sugars as fuel, I needed to find some other way to fuel my body. I played around with the Keto diet that year, doing research and learning as much as possible, looking at how much it would cost to live on this diet and what recipes they had.

In 2020, my new Year's resolution was to go completely Keto. Because I had slowly begun to get into this diet for a year before, cutting out carbohydrates and already not eating or drinking sugar I didn’t get what people call, the “Keto Flu”. This is what some people experience when they start on this diet, they get super sick and shaky because their body is getting used to not getting an intake of carbs and sugars.

I started the year off strong, on a strict diet of meats and low-carb vegetables, low-carb yogurts, and sugar-free snacks here and there. I struggled a little bit thanks to the difficulties last year brought but I stuck with my diet. I also cut back on how much I was eating. So instead of eating three huge healthy meals a day, I’d have one or two good size meals and one smaller or sometimes I’d only have 2 meals a day and I would fast at night. I was still taking my medication but with my new diet, I was able to drop to just 200 milligrams once a day.

A side effect of me getting my blood sugars under control was weight loss. I started 2020 weighing in at 175 lbs; today I am down to 150 lbs.

Diabetic Depression

I have had depression since I was young so this might not happen with every person who has diabetes but because this is about my journey I figured I would add it.

Being diagnosed with diabetes caused my depression to get worse. I have it mostly under control today but I still have moments when I will become depressed over my diabetes. I start to think about how I can’t enjoy the same foods as my friends or boyfriend, the fact that when I go out to eat I have to be extra careful of what I order.

My food options are often more expensive than everybody else. It really hits hard when you see someone enjoying what was your favorite food or snack of choice. It can take a toll on your mental health especially if you already have depression or other mental illnesses like anxiety.

I couldn’t join in the fun of eating birthday cake, or cupcakes that I would make. I couldn’t taste my homemade cookies or have an egg sandwich for breakfast with my boyfriend. It sometimes gets so bad that I hardly eat anything all day and I start to get shaky and sick from my blood sugar dropping too low.

Finding Keto helped me out a lot with these problems though because, while It’s not completely healthy, I found a lot of cake, cookie, and bread recipes using sweeteners instead of sugar, or almond and coconut flour over regular baking flour. I’ve been able to have my cake and eat it too but again it’s all in moderation. You shouldn’t eat an entire sugar-free cake in one sitting just because it’s sugar-free, but being able to join in on normal activities like I used to helps me feel better.

how-i-learned-to-control-my-diabetes

"Curing" My Diabetes

In February 2021, I went to my doctor for my diabetes check-up and had an average monthly sugar of 90. During this visit, my doctor told me I had essentially “cured” my diabetes. This doesn’t mean I can go back to eating whatever I want; it just means my diabetes is now diet controlled, and I was able to go off my metformin. This was a huge deal for me as it gave me a feeling of being able to control my life. I no longer needed aid from medication; I was doing good with my Keto diet.

While I do still have moments when I suffer depressive episodes brought on by not being able to enjoy certain foods, it’s not as bad as it once was. I’ve gotten used to not eating super sweet foods and when I do taste something really sweet, it just tastes gross to me. I do miss eating potatoes and rice, but I can now substitute those with cauliflower. It’s not the same but it does the job. I’ve even created a few of my own Keto recipes!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Jade Hassenplug

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