Type 1 Diabetes

Dieting

Since Type 1 Diabetes is unpreventable, oftentimes, dieting and other strategies are used to normalize lifestyle, along with regular insulin injections, in order to keep your blood sugar stable. A general rule of thumb is to increase fiber intake, and avoid saturated fats. 

Carbohydrates are key to a diabetic diet, due to their direct effect on blood sugar. Typically, per meal, you want to eat 15 grams of carbohydrates before checking your blood sugar. If it's low, eat another 15 grams.

 

15 grams of fast carbohydrates can be found in 

  • 1/4 cup of 100% fruit juice

  • 1 small fresh fruit, about 4 oz

  • 4 - 6 crackers, a la Ritz or Triscuits

  • 2 tablespoons of raisins

  • 1 tablespoon of honey  

Foods to avoid include 

  • Sodas, both regular and diet

  • processed and refined sugar, like in white bread, cookies, chips, pastas, and pastries

  • trans fats (anything labeled hydrogenated) and high-fat animal products

Protein will not have much of an effect on your  blood sugar levels, but are helpful, and should be eaten in beans, eggs, and non-fatty meat. 

Motivation

Remember, type 1 diabetes may feel like a burden. Thus, it’s important to stay motivated to keep your health up. When you start to feel overwhelmed, it can help to think of a good reason to stay motivated, that will encourage you to continue on, despite your struggles. What keeps you going?  On those harder days, remind yourself of your reason for staying motivated. 

Get organized

If you’d like to manage your diabetes better and have an easier Monday morning, get organized. You can try making diabetes kits with insulin, syringes, healthy but sugary snacks, glucose testing supplies, and anything else you might need to manage your diabetes. Stash a few kits around the house, in your car, and in your purse, gym bag, or briefcase. You won’t need to search hard for supplies in the case of a hypo/hyper. 

If you often have trouble remembering to take medications, try using a pill box or keeping prescriptions by your toothbrush. You should also have the name and contact information for each member of your diabetes treatment team easily available, such as on the fridge or in your wallet.

I began to saw diabetes as a challenge that I have to rise to each and every day.

                   -Alex Reidy

Hypers/Hypos

Hypoglycemia’s early symptoms include:

Without treatment, you might get more severe symptoms, including:

Diabetes Drugs Linked to Hypoglycemia (but don’t be afraid!)

Insulin treatment can cause low blood sugar, and so can diabetes medicines under the type "sulfonylureas."

Commonly used sulfonylureas include:

Older, less common sulfonlyureas tend to cause low blood sugar more often than some of the newer ones. Examples of older drugs include:

You can also get low blood sugar if you drink alcohol or take allopurinolaspirinBenemid, probenecid, or warfarin with diabetes medications.

You shouldn't get hypoglycemia if you take alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, like metformin, and thiazolidinediones alone, but it can happen when you take them with sulfonylureas or insulin.

Diet and Hypoglycemia

You can get low blood sugar if you take too much insulin for the amount of carbohydrates you eat or drink.

For instance, it can happen:

  • After you eat a meal that has a lot of simple sugars

  • If you miss a snack or don't eat a full meal

  • If you eat later than usual

  • If you drink alcohol without eating any food

Don't skip meals if you have diabetes, particularly if you're taking diabetes medications.

Hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition when there is not enough glucose in your bloodstream. 

Hypoglycemia’s early symptoms include:

Without treatment, you might get more severe symptoms, including:

Diabetes Drugs Linked to Hypoglycemia (but don’t be afraid!)

Insulin treatment can cause low blood sugar, and so can diabetes medicines under the type "sulfonylureas."

Commonly used sulfonylureas include:

Older, less common sulfonlyureas tend to cause low blood sugar more often than some of the newer ones. Examples of older drugs include:

You can also get low blood sugar if you drink alcohol or take allopurinolaspirinBenemid, probenecid, or warfarin with diabetes medications.

You shouldn't get hypoglycemia if you take alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, like metformin, and thiazolidinediones alone, but it can happen when you take them with sulfonylureas or insulin.

Diet and Hypoglycemia

You can get low blood sugar if you take too much insulin for the amount of carbohydrates you eat or drink.

For instance, it can happen:

  • After you eat a meal that has a lot of simple sugars

  • If you miss a snack or don't eat a full meal

  • If you eat later than usual

  • If you drink alcohol without eating any food

Don't skip meals if you have diabetes, particularly if you're taking diabetes medications.

Testing Glucose

The most common method of testing insulin would be the “finger prick” method, where a small drop of blood is drawn from the patient, usually from the index finger. This blood sample is put onto a special strip of glucose paper, which is fed into a glucose meter (glucometer). the glucometer reads this number and provides you with your blood sugar level. It’s as simple as that. According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 Diabetics should test 4 to 10 times a day, especially before and after snacks and meals, before and after exercise, before bed, and possibly during the night. 

 

What if you have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)?

Many type 1 diabetics, choose to use a CGM. These devices measure your blood sugar every few minutes using a sensor inserted under the skin.

Some devices show your blood sugar reading at all times on a receiver, and will alert you if a hyper/hypo is suspected. Others require you to wave the receiver over the sensor. 

Most of these devices still require "finger prick” checks to calibrate the machine. These may need to occur monthly to yearly, and you should check you user’s manual for more information. 

Know your target range

Your doctor will set target blood sugar test results based on several factors, including:

  • Type and severity of diabetes

  • Age

  • How long you've had diabetes

  • Pregnancy status

  • Diabetes complications

  • Overall health

For many diabetics, Mayo Clinic recommends the following target blood sugar levels before meals:

  • Between 80 and 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for people age 59 and younger who have no other medical conditions

  • Between 100 and 140 mg/dL for people age 60 and older, or for those who have other medical conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease or reduced hypoglycemia awareness

The American Diabetes Association generally recommends the following target blood sugar levels:

  • Between 80 and 130 mg/dL (4.4 and 7.2 mmol/L) before meals

  • Less than 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L) two hours after meals

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