Diabetes, But I Don’t Eat Sugar!

Tignes les Brévières as viewed from the Myrtil...

Tignes

A couple of years ago I went skiing, with the family, to Tignes in France. Generally it was a brilliant holiday except for the fact that I felt really ill for the whole time I was there, really, properly ill, not just a bit of “man-flu” but really debilitated, no energy, throwing up, sick. It started once we’d got to Tignes, which is very high in the Alps, and subsided almost as soon as we descended at the end of the week. To be honest, I’d been feeling rubbish for a couple of years, but I had put it down to the pressures of starting my own business, working hard etc. In the weeks following the holiday I returned somewhat to normal, if drinking 4 pints of water in an evening, being amazingly tired all the time, and aching in every joint can be called normal. I’d been nagged by my mother to see my doctor for ages, so finally I went. I didn’t get to see the doctor, but did see the practise nurse, I explained my symptoms and she got me to give a urine sample, she told me straight away that I was diabetic. I then had to go for the usual hospital checks, blood tests etc, for the actual diagnosis to be made. I was put onto pills which made me feel so much better in a couple of days, that I thought that that was it! I’d had a warning a few years earlier that I needed to watch what I eat, as I was borderline diabetic, but had had no dietary advice, all the doctor said at that time was “you eat too much sugar” to which I answered “I don’t” “Well, you do” was his reply. I explained that when I moved onto my boat 8 years earlier I bought a 500 gram bag of sugar, and I would need to replace it soon, I don’t eat puddings or sweet foods, I don’t eat much in the way of processed food either, I just eat too much food (I weighed 18.5 stone at the time) “just cut out the sweet stuff, and eat better and you’ll be ok” was his parting shot. By the time of the skiing holiday I’d joined a gym, lost a stone, and had cut out anything resembling sweet food, apart from my nemesis – the odd doughnut (one a month on average!) To lose weight I’d cut out most fried food, most red meat, and nearly all takeaways. I would make all my meals from fresh ingredients, but I’d have more rice when having a chilli or curry to cut down on the meat, I’d have fresh bread rolls for lunch with a bit of cheese or a slice of ham, I’d have a large bowl of pasta, or baked potato. If I got hungry I’d have crisps, to be honest I’d eat a lot of crisps, or have some noodles or savoury rice. My calorie count was not that high, and I was losing weight slowly, yet I was feeling worse and worse, then came that holiday, the visit to the doctor/practise nurse, and my diagnosis of diabetes. When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I was relieved, there was a reason that I felt so bad, and it could be dealt with, all I needed to know was what I had to do. That’s where it all got a bit difficult! I was told that I had to base my diet on carbohydrates, so rice, pasta, potatoes etc, and stop eating puddings, sweets, use sweeteners in coffee etc, when I explained that that is what I’d been doing, I was told that I was doing something wrong, which was obvious, but not what

my blood sugar testing kit

Blood sugar testng kit

.

At about this time I was contacted by Sarah on Facebook for the first time, one of the first conversations we had was about me having just been diagnosed as type 2 diabetic, she didn’t seem phased, and still doesn’t. I’m very lucky that both Sarah and my mother have been so supportive and helpful to me over the last couple of years, I really don’t know what I’d have done without then! I bimbled along for that first year, I was taking Eucreas for the diabetes and Simvastatin for cholesterol, my blood sugars were ok (between 7 and 10) but I was experiencing severe joint pain, which I’d heard that Statins could do to you, so I first changed to Lipitor, then as things didn’t improve, I’d stopped taking statins altogether. When Sarah and I set up home together we had to register with a new doctor, I had all the usual checks done, had the retinal eye scan, and at my first appointment with the doctor I was told that they were going to change my diabetes medication as they couldn’t prescribe Eucreas, when I asked why they couldn’t prescribe Eucreas I was told that it was because of the side effects, which were, severe joint pains, nausea, and a lot of other things, most of which I had! So I was put on to Metformin, which I still take, with the immediate effect that my blood sugars went through the roof, so It was back to the doctor who prescribed Gliclazide as well as the metformin, but also LOSE WEIGHT! I was still 17.5 stone. With the new drugs my blood sugars would hover around the 10 – 13 level, still not good enough!

Sarah and I decided to try a new diet that we’d both read about, I was a bit sceptical, as I was still basing my diet around carbohydrates. The diet we were going to try was the Dukan Diet, which is a high protein diet, and cuts out all carbohydrate for up to a week when you start. Well, what a change! after a few days on the Dukan diet my blood sugars fell to normal <5 (I was still taking the pills!) and occasionally went below 4, so I actually had to eat something sweet! Which is when I found out that sweet things don’t really affect me, what has been making me so ill that at times I’d have happily died, is carbohydrate. After the first weeks no carbohydrates at all on the Dukan diet, you can start to have some carbs on alternate days, but in small quantities, but at this level, my blood sugars weren’t adversely affected and stayed stable at <5.5. Even when the diet reaches the twice a week treats stage my blood sugars remained stable, it seemed like we’d cracked it! and my weight had dropped by just over 2 stone. I was feeling better than I’d felt in years, I had lots more energy and was just generally happier, then Christmas came along, and obviously, things slipped a little bit, but my blood sugars were still good, I really could eat a small piece of pudding, or chocolate, and my blood sugar would be fine, but have too many roast potatoes, and that was it, they went way too high!

DIET

So what’s the upshot of all this, and where am I now? Well’ my blood sugars are still good (though at <7 not quite as good as before) My weight is fluctuating around the 15.5-16 stone mark. I need to get back to the Dukan diet, but I do now know that if I eat less carbohydrate, and more protein then my blood sugars will be fine. I can even eat sweet thing from time to time without any damage! What surprises me is that the official advice is still to base your diet around carbohydrates, in the past I’d eaten rice and pasta and bread and potatoes, I would cut down on the very things that I should have increased and increased the amount of things that were giving me the problems in the first place. For me my diabetes is not about sugar consumption, it’s about carbohydrate consumption, I wish I’d found this out earlier when I could have made some changes to my carb intake, and not worried so much about my sugar intake, I should have had more chilli or curry and less rice! I wish that I’d been given better advice by the doctors and nutritionists that I’ve seen, I now feel that I know more about my diabetes than my doctor or anyone else with the possible exception of Sarah, who can tell me how I feel before I can! The doctors, nurses and nutritionists all say that it’s not my fault that I’m diabetic, but I think they’re wrong, it was self-inflicted. I have always liked crisps, snacks, bread and rice, and eating more of these and less meat, eggs and vegetables was always an easy option, I’ve never had a sweet tooth, so never thought that I was susceptible to diabetes, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I hope that anyone else who eats like I used to can get the information that I needed, and that they act upon it. I’m not promoting the Dukan diet and anyone thinking of trying it should read the book and consult they doctor/nurse before they start. I’m keeping a record of my diet and blood sugar levels as well as seeing my doctor on a regular basis.

Big Mac protéiné

Big Mac protéiné

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2 thoughts on “Diabetes, But I Don’t Eat Sugar!

  1. Hi Chris, This is Hilary from the blog “Rainie and Me”. Thanks for following my blog. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions (even social ones). As you probably have read, I’ve been Type 1 my whole life… and my life is bigger than my diabetes. I’ll need to spend more time reading your blog, but your pictures are wonderful! Hope to ‘talk’ to you soon. ~ h

    • Hi Hilary, thanks for commenting, my diabetes is relatively stable at the moment, my blood sugars never go above 7.5, but are usually 5.5 to 6.5 I can’t get much advice as to whether this is good or bad, but it is significantly down from the 11 to 13 that it was! The Dukan Diet has really helped me!

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