It’s Not About The Sugar…

It can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And before everyone swamps my comments section (not that any of you ever do), I’m not necessarily calling my parents old dogs. But sometimes we learn something during a time when it’s relevant and important, only to have it disproven or updated decades later. Most people will hold true to the previous knowledge they had learned, especially if the results were quasi-positive. When I was diagnosed as Type-1 Diabetic, or “Juvenile” Diabetic as it was inaccurately called back in the early 80’s, my parents were told that combatting Diabetes only required two things: take insulin and don’t eat sugar.

Obviously, we now know that this isn’t correct. It’s about the proper balance of insulin use and carbohydrate-counting, not sugar intake. You can have something with no sugar indicated on the label but will have lots of carbs and will require a dose of insulin. This was something my parents didn’t recognize, way back when. You’re thirsty? Sure, have a glass of milk. There’s no sugar in that… Not only is that incorrect, milk has approximately 12 grams of carbs per cup depending on the brand. Oh, you’re hungry? Sure, have some a piece of toast. toast doesn’t have sugar… Although wildly incorrect and a slice of bread has anywhere between 10 to 25 grams of carbohydrates, depending on brand, thickness, etc.

I hold no malice against my parents, as they did the best they could with what they knew. But it explains a significant number of issues I’ve had to deal with, such as suffering through a number of Diabetic comas in my youth, as well as having damage to my eyes throughout my 20’s and began requiring eye injections in my late 30’s (as opposed to my 60’s or later). I’ve always fought very hard to be as healthy as possible, and I like to think I’ve done a pretty god job since I still have a clean nervous system, no amputations, good circulation and I can still outrun many people of equivalent station in life who AREN’T Diabetic. But I can’t imagine the different it would have made in my youth, had carb counting been a part of my childhood.

I was reminded of this recently when I was on the phone with my mother and we were talking about how Diabetes and how the total number of people with some form of it in Canada was continuously increasing. Then she made a comment that it was because these people were “eating too much sugar.” Although certain dietary and lifestyle factors will contribute to Type-2 Diabetes, this isn’t the case with Type-1. But try explaining that to someone who was taught and truly believed that “you just shouldn’t eat sugar” as a means of treating ALL Diabetes.

There’s a lot more to Diabetes than avoiding sugar. It requires proper diet, which includes carbohydrate counting. It requires frequent blood sugar testing to ensure you’re remaining “in range,” if you happen not to be wearing a CGM. you also needs regular, consistent exercise, control over cholesterol, blood pressure and ensure good oral and cardiac health. Diabetes is a rich mosaic of crap that one needs to stay on top of, in order to have a full, healthy life. ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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