My husband successfully overcame his diabetes, and I want to share how he was able to do this.
When We Discovered He Had Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is sneaky, creeping up in little bits. The desire to consume more sugar increases gradually—almost unnoticeably—day by day.
It was the summer of 1999—a hot one. My husband was very thirsty, but he drank mostly soda—too much, I thought. He thought it was okay. Ice cream for dessert, candy while watching TV, pizza, pasta, potatoes, and extra servings; regular portions just couldn't satiate him. I told him, "You are overeating sugar." He thought it was okay.
At 43 years of age, he still thought he was invincible. He did not understand that what he ate could harm him. Sitting at the computer all day for work certainly didn't help the situation. On the way home from work one evening, we stopped for coffee. I put two sugars in my coffee. He put in 16! That was when I knew beyond all doubt that something was wrong. He did not want to accept the fact that he was a sugar addict.
One day, it hit him. His lifelong sugar addiction caught up with him like a runaway freight train on a downhill pass.
He kept going to the bathroom to urinate. He started to develop severe gum problems. He got terrible headaches, constantly felt fatigued, and became depressed. At that point, he agreed to see his doctor, who told him, "Looks like your sugar is high. Cut back on the soda and see me in two weeks." My husband then quite wisely asked the doctor to prescribe him a blood glucose meter to monitor his blood sugar at home.
A1c Test Result
The doctor also ordered an A1c test, a blood test that reflects your average blood sugar levels for the past couple months. My husband's A1c results showed he had a blood sugar level of about 500 mg/dL—about five times the normal amount—over an extended period of time. Not good. In fact, it was downright dangerous.
As he stayed away from refined sugars and kept a record of his daily numbers, his blood sugar level dropped continually. Seeing this progress, the doctor told him to keep doing what he was doing and come back in two weeks. Maybe, he wouldn't need medication. Although diabetes can be reversed (managed), it cannot be cured. Diabetes was going to be with him for life.
So began our quest for knowledge about diabetes and the different ways it can be handled.
My Husband's Diabetes Treatment Strategy
Fast forward to the present day: He is 75 pounds lighter. His last A1c tested within the normal range—without medication. At almost 60, his overall health and fitness are better than ever. How was this accomplished? It took perseverance, patience, and some trial and error. The thing to remember is that everyone is different, and your strategy has to be developed for your individual situation. For example, you may find that certain foods might affect your blood sugar more than others. It takes hard work. You must keep detailed records, a diary, or even a blog so you can keep track of your progress.
Giving Up Refined Sugars and Processed Foods
Managing his diabetes required a total lifestyle change. No more refined sugars or processed foods like he was used to. Basically, he avoided any high-glycemic foods (foods that instantly spike blood sugar levels). Besides giving up the obvious things like soda, we had to be careful and check all food labels. Sometimes, even frozen vegetables contain refined sugar! He didn't even think to cheat on his diet as it would have shown on the results from his glucose meter and A1c test.
Consulting a Nutritionist
To learn what else we could do, we consulted a nutritionist for practical advice. Our nutritionist recommended bitter melon supplements to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
We also learned to make all calories count towards his health and wellness. A big part of his diet consisted of lean meat, beans, almond meal, flax, kefir, plenty of vegetables (something he used to never eat), salads (watch out for sugar in salad dressing!), berries, and nuts.
Plain lemon water is now his beverage of choice. Wheat products were ruled out as they made his numbers soar extremely high. While some people with diabetes can tolerate wheat, rice, and oats, my husband could not.
Cooking With Diabetes-Friendly Ingredients
My husband created his versions of his favorite desserts, like pies and ice cream, using the sugar substitutes like stevia and lo han (monk fruit). He makes great pies (lemon meringue and chocolate meringue) with almond meal crusts. Instead of regular pasta, there are mung bean and black bean versions.
Olive oil and coconut oil have replaced butter. Garlic is now a favorite. We grow our own basil, so pesto is also a staple. Explore the world of spices. Your taste buds will come alive with new and vibrant excitement. You don't need sugars and fats to create a delightful culinary experience.
Creating a Consistent Exercise Schedule
In addition to his dietary changes, he also incorporated a workout regimen to balance out the long hours working at his desk. He found that what worked best for him was to exercise for 45 minutes at least three times a week.
Exercise doesn't have to be anything fancy. Walking outside to get fresh air and sunshine is low impact and truly enjoyable. If that doesn't work, walking indoors is good as well. In the last 20 years, we have gone through four treadmills and an exercise bike. We've gotten so much use out of them. Even our dog uses the treadmill! Find what works for you and do it!
As I've said before, sticking with these changes aren't easy, especially after decades of building bad habits. Having some support from friends and family can help you stick with the plan and achieve your goals.
If you are the family member, partner, or friend of a person with diabetes, be supportive of the changes they need to make. The new way of eating has to be continually maintained and fully embraced. Consistency is essential. Yoga, meditation, prayer, and spiritual serenity may also help reduce stress, which lends itself to a peaceful life with healthy blood sugar levels.
It's Not Easy, but It's Doable
I know these changes have benefited our entire family. It's not easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. Keep positive and hope for the future. I am proud of my husband and his dedication and perseverance to achieve his new state of being. He is truly inspirational and has helped others on this same path. You too can be well and escape from "Sugar-land" and be well starting right now!
Robert Sacchi on March 29, 2019:
Edna Straney (author) from Oneonta New York on March 29, 2019:
Robert Sacchi on March 26, 2019:
Thank you for posting. All good information.