Lisa Parker is 37, and she has recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Since she was in college, Lisa started developing a taste for fast food places located close to campus, and the stress of exams led her to binge on high sugar and the high fat goodies that were freely available at the university cafeteria. While she also ate fruit and salads every once in a while, these foods weren’t what she craved most, so they we rarely the bulk of her meals.
She gradually started gaining weight, and once she graduated college, Lisa was 30 lbs. heavier than she was during orientation week. As a professional, she became slightly more aware of the potential dangers of being overweight. She tried fad diets, and went to yoga classes every now and then, but was never able to make sustainable changes in what she ate, nor did she maintain a regular exercise regimen.
Now Lisa has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and is being urged by her physician to make drastic changes to her diet.
How can she get started?
If you are in a situation similar to Lisa’s, know that you aren’t alone. Making a significant change in your lifestyle from one day to the next can seem nearly impossible. It’s not, and here’s how you can make lasting changes.
The key to long-term success is starting small. Small changes go a long way, and are much easier to work into your lifestyle. Eventually, small changes lead to bigger ones, and the changes become much easier than you had previously imagined.
This article is meant to be a practical how-to guide for how to get started planning your diabetes diet.
The Basics: What is Diabetes?
The World Health Organization provides a good definition of diabetes:
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
In healthy people, blood sugar remains within a normal range, no matter what they eat. Certain foods can elevate blood sugar more than others. One model for understanding this is the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how much a food can elevate blood sugar. Foods that are most potent in sugar include: refined and natural sugars, like white sugar and honey, and refined carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and breakfast cereal.
When diabetes isn’t controlled, it affects the whole body. There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be effectively managed. With diet and exercise, it is possible to live a long, healthy life with diabetes.
How to Get Started
Now that we know that diabetes affects normal blood sugar, the first element is to understand that when we consume foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, our blood sugar will elevate and our bodies will have trouble controlling it. Additionally, if we don’t eat for a long time, our blood sugar can become dangerously low.