Diabetes: After the Diagnosis

after the diagnosis

This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper. It originally appeared on his website, The Decadent Diabetic, and was republished on Information About Diabetes with permission.

For many people, moving on with their life after they get the diagnosis of Diabetes is really easy. They head off to the pharmacy, fill the prescriptions, buy a meter and strips, read whatever materials they got from the doctor, and move on with life. They have the kind of personalities that allow them to keep going despite the inconveniences and discomforts. For others, including myself…. Not so easy BUT doable.

So many people that have been diagnosed with Diabetes flounder trying to figure out what they should or can do about their Diabetes. Some feel lost and do not know where to turn. I see this all too often. It is easy to let any disease overwhelm you.
At least for now, there is no cure for Diabetes. No food or combination of foods, no juices, no special spices, no “magic” pills, oils, newt’s sweat, or magic way of eating will change the fact that you have Diabetes.

What you can do is figure out what will work best FOR YOU to manage the disease and live as good a life as you can. You need to remember that all of us are different AND wonderfully unique. We can take pride in our uniqueness, even if it makes it harder to manage our disease.

Some things are easy to manage. If you have a fever, take aspirin unless…got it. There are exceptions to every rule.

My means of survival is through food. Challenging myself to create foods not only with lower values of carbohydrates; but foods that taste as good as what I have always eaten. I have Diabetes. I may as well make it as pleasant and delicious as I can.

I have a great relationship with my doctor.

When he shared the results of the tests that confirmed I have Diabetes with me, he handed me the only information he had and told me he was NOT the expert on this field. Yes, I have a doctor that does not pretend to know everything. In getting me the best care possible, he sent me to area (Portland, Maine) experts in Diabetes.
The first people I spoke with were of no assistance. Attitudinally, it seemed as they blamed me for my Diabetes and treated me as though all the questions I was asking were for ways to cheat on their eating suggestions. That didn’t play well for me and should not play well for anybody.

You can not imagine how lost and discouraged I felt after the meeting. It took finding another person to guide me on a positive path to managing my Diabetes. It was a nutritionist that happened to work for my local “stupidmarket”. With her kind and expert help I found the keys to my personal Diabetes survival. The rest is was up to me to work it out.

Resources are out there, sometimes in the most unexpected places. Now if I can only get her to convince the meat manager to order smaller chicken breasts. Ahhh but that is another soap box.

I have seen so many comments on the Diabetes forums where people don’t know where to turn. So many of us feel so helpless, at first. Telling you that you have Diabetes and then leave you hanging in the wind is inexcusable. I think it is necessary for the medical professionals to assist you in finding answers that work for the individual, not for their set plan. If they don’t have the expertise they should be helping you to find others that do.

If you feel that you haven’t been given enough guidance, there are places to go for more information. Most hospitals have Diabetes departments. Many offer group classes and one on one work with doctors, dieticians, and nutritionists. Where you live will affect those resources. One Google search will uncover dozens of places that offer information and classes. All one has to do is find the ones closest to you. Different resources are available everywhere.

Once you schedule a convenient appointment, don’t go in empty handed. Get those questions out. It may seem strange to you, but YOU are your greatest tool.

The two favorite phrases in my Diabetes repertory are:

Ask questions like crazy

Don’t let anybody intimidate you

There was a question posed about which sugar replacement I used. Before I got to respond, another person (Mike) replied:

You should use what doesn't spike you, test!!! Eat to your meter, by testing each type you can see what your body can handle, all of us are different and how our body reacts to different sweeteners and all foods.

I really enjoy the give and take from the people joining in on the Diabetes forums. His answer was perfect. Each of us is different and wonderfully unique. The only thing I would add (and did) is use your meter but also your taste buds.

Today I was contacted by another reader with this question:

My hubby is set in his ways (not willing to try new foods, recipes). I would love to be able to prepare more of our meals so I can manage my numbers better. What do you suggest?

It is great to be reminded that many of us do not live and eat alone. We have those pesky loved ones to deal with. I will let you figure out how I replied to her. One hint, the phrase: “Don’t tell him what it is”.

Sharing recipes and thoughts with you is one of the ways I have survived my diagnosis. I chose to find a purpose for my disease. I am in charge.

Giving to others reminds us of our humanity. We are part of the world.
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic