Managing Diabetes the Unconventional Way
Self-Discipline and The Childhood Diet
by Ramya V., Mar 9, 2020
Listen to the Stories
Diabetes can present one with a lot of challenges that can vary depending on one's age, gender, lifestyle, and other factors. Effective management of the condition involves following a regimented diet, maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels, and complying with a prescribed medical regimen. However, there are also simple, unconventional, often ingenious approaches that go hand in hand with the standard treatment options for diabetes. Two of our storytellers from across the globe show us how.
Taking Diabetes Head-On
Our 74-year-old Swell storyteller from India has been a type 2 diabetic from quite early on. Diagnosed in his early 40s, his post-prandial sugar levels were almost always hovering around the 280-300 mark. He was taking a slew of tablets to keep his sugar levels in check, but they didn’t help much. More often than not, he was left feeling hungry and tired. That was when, at the suggestion of a doctor, he began a routine of monitoring his sugar levels at home on a daily basis with a blood sugar testing kit and logging the readings in a diary. Going a step further, he also began to maintain a log of all he ate during the course of the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
He did all of this, not necessarily to review with the doctor, but for himself. By doing so, he developed self-discipline that helped him carefully choose what, when, and how much he ate in the span of a day. He also followed the doctor's advice of taking a brisk morning walk of at least 45 minutes every day. Within a year of doing this, his sugar levels were completely under control. His post-prandial readings fell within the range of 170-180. After years of following this regimen, his fasting levels came down to around 120-130.
Totally nondiabetic as of today, he continues to test his glucose levels once a week by himself. He is of the firm belief that a bit of self-discipline in dietary habits coupled with minor lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing diabetes effectively.
Catching Gestational Diabetes Early
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2019, gestational diabetes (GDM) is among the most common complications in pregnancies in the US with an incidence rate between 2% to 10%.1
It was in the third or fourth month of her second pregnancy that our storyteller, living in San Francisco, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The diagnosis implied a host of other associated complications: a big baby, the likelihood of having a cesarean, and health issues for mom and baby, including the chance of the mother developing full-blown diabetes later on. She was asked to keep her sugar levels in check and counseled by a dietician. She was to monitor her blood glucose levels thrice a day, once after every meal while maintaining a log of her daily readings.
An Uphill Task
Her blood-sugar goals were fairly tight. Targeting normal glucose levels found in a healthy woman who wasn't pregnant, more often than not, her readings came out on the higher side. Despite following the prescribed diet, she was consistently hitting 140-150 plus, while permissible levels were around 110. With the doctor telling her off and the dietician warning her to stay away from carbs and high sugars, especially rice, our mom to be was disheartened. Meeting these strict targets was quite stressful as nothing seemed to work and her numbers continued to stay off the charts. At one point, she went as far as to fudge the readings, just so she wouldn't end up being scolded by the doctor!
An Experiment That Worked
With no apparent solution in sight, she took to an experiment of sorts. A lot of research on the internet made her conclude that the body should ideally know how to break down foods that it has always been used to breaking down. All the new types of food introduced in her diet weren't exactly what her body was used to processing. Brought up in the South of India, she was culturally a rice-eater. And so, she went back to traditional foods that she was used to having as a kid when her gut was still developing and establishing whatever connections it needed for proper digestion.
This was an instinctive move, a bit of a stretch for the young woman, as these weren't foods that could simply be bought off the shelves. They needed preparation from scratch. Nevertheless, she went on to do it and was pleasantly surprised when the experiment actually worked! The minute she switched over to eating food that her body had always been used to, her blood sugar levels dropped to under 110. She managed to resolve her gestational diabetes scare with ease and highly recommends other diabetics try switching to foods their bodies have been used to processing since the time their gut was developing. It is quite likely that those foods will get broken down much better than anything else.
Based on the experiences of our storytellers, it’s clear that listening to your body cues and coming up with a suitable diet plan, exercise routine, and appropriate medication adjustments can go a long way in keeping diabetes in check and making it possible to live your life without having to hold back.