Eating with Diabetes: Answers to the Questions You Forgot to Ask

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A Guest Post By Leslie Vandever

 

You’re at your doctor’s office not long after your type 2 diabetes diagnosis. She whisks into the exam room, greets you, rattles off the results of your most recent blood tests and, before you know it, the appointment is ending. “Do you have any questions?” the doctor asks, snapping her laptop closed and pausing at the door.

Tongue-tied, you shake your head.

Forgetting the questions we meant to ask the doc happens to everyone, so don’t feel bad. Instead, read this list of garden-variety questions and answers about diet and type 2 diabetes. Maybe some of them will match the ones you forgot to ask.

Q: Is my diabetes my own fault?

A: No. Medical science can’t explain why some people get diabetes and others don’t. They’ve been able to pinpoint some possible risk factors for the disease, like obesity, but “possible” is the watch-word, here. Lots of obese people don’t have diabetes—and lots of slender folks do.

 

Q: Can I ever eat sweets again?

A: Yes, you can. But you have to do it mindfully, working the sugary treat into your diet in a way that doesn’t cause your blood glucose to rise more than it should. If you want that cookie, enjoy it instead of that helping of macaroni-and-cheese, not in addition to it. Balance is key.

Q: What are “good” carbs and “bad” carbs?

A: All carbohydrates are the same—the body converts them all into glucose for energy. When we say they’re “good” or “bad,” we’re referring to how quickly they convert into glucose and hit the bloodstream. A “good” carb, for instance, is a slice of whole grain bread. It’s “good” because the flour the bread’s made from includes the entire grain, which is full of fiber. The body digests fibrous carbs much more slowly than those that have little or no fiber (the “bad” carbs, are foods made from processed white flour). As the food converts into glucose, it flows very gradually into the bloodstream, making it easier for the body to use it efficiently. “Bad” carbs convert to sugar almost instantly, releasing an overwhelming flood of sugar into the bloodstream.

Q: What’s the best diet for type 2 diabetes?

A: An excellent—and delicious—type 2 diabetes diet is one that’s rich in vegetables, beans and legumes, lean meat and fish, eggs, fats like olive or canola oil, low-fat dairy foods and milk, whole grain breads, pastas, cereals, and brown rice. Fruit is OK, but in moderation. Sugary desserts, snacks, and beverages fall into the “rare treat” category. And limit or avoid “white” foods like white bread, potatoes, white rice and pasta, entirely.

Q: Why do I have to test my blood all the time?

A: So you can see in “real time” how what you eat is affecting your blood glucose levels. If you test it and it’s too high, you know you need to be more careful of what you eat for the rest of the day. Or maybe you’ll choose to exercise (which burns off glucose as energy) for an extra 15-20 minutes after dinner. Over time, you learn which foods affect you in which ways, making it easier to keep your blood sugar under control.

Q: Will my diabetes ever go away?

A: Eating mindfully and keeping your blood glucose levels under control can help slow or stop the damage type 2 diabetes can do to your body, and you may be able to control it without drugs. Unfortunately, however, there is no cure for it. But millions of people live normal, healthy lives with diabetes. You can, too.

For more answers about type 2 diabetes or other health-related information, click here.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

 

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