Patient Story: Controlling Diabetes with Diet

Steve’s Journey

A customer tells us the story of her husband’s fight with, and victory in controlling Diabetes…

In September 2010, my husband, Steve found himself in the hospital. He was cramping, extremely thirsty, and could not stay out of the restroom. His sight was not right; he was seeing double. Tests revealed that his blood sugar was 844, and his A1C was 12.
The symptoms had developed gradually over a few days and were a surprise to him because he had no family history of diabetes. After 3 days in the hospital with an IV drip for insulin, he was released with a blood sugar count of around 365. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we were as a family. We understood that things had to change but I also knew it didn’t have to be a death sentence.
Upon his release Steve was on insulin 4 times a day and was told losing weight, becoming mobile, and watching sugar and carbs would be key to success. I started by cleaning out the pantry and freezer, eliminating all processed foods. I replaced box foods with fresh vegetables and low fat foods. Each night as a family we would plan everything he would eat the next day. This would include breakfast, lunch, dinner and 3 small snacks. We used apps on the smartphone to track the calories and carbs for each meal, checked sugar levels with each insulin injection, and recorded the numbers. By changing his diet and adding exercise, in the first month, Steve lost about 10 pounds.
Creating a menu each week would allow us to buy the items we needed and make good food choices. As well, it helped to keep costs down because I began shopping and planning based on grocery sales. It also saved me time because I knew what I would be cooking ahead of time and could use crock pots or cook ahead the night before. As the weeks passed, it became easy to look over the past menu and plan meals based on things we had not eaten in a while.
To plan meals and make healthy food choices I use the American Diabetes Association website for recipes and ideas from others. There are tons of websites with recipes for diabetics. In time, as we became more comfortable with managing diabetes, we would try new foods and recipes. Steve would test his blood sugar 2 hours after eating new items. If it was still high we would not eat that dish again. This allowed us to figure out which foods worked or did not work for him. I began to replace sugar with sugar substitutes, coconut sugars and fruit. I replaced regular flours with whole wheat flours or alternatives. As well, it allowed us to see that carbs come in many forms. The monitoring also brought awareness to portion control. Eating one portion of certain foods rather than the entire pot will keep you from feeling deprived.
5 years later Steve has lost 90 pounds (and kept it off) and his diabetes is controlled by his diet. We continue to plan menus and to exercise as a family. Our entire family has lost weight. Steve’s eyesight returned to normal, and so did his kidney function; at last check his A1C level was 5.7. The best part is – no more insulin. We all feel better about that!

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