Assistance with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is an autoimmune disease where your body no longer produces enough or ceases to produce insulin. What is an autoimmune disease you ask? An autoimmune disease is actually your body “attacking itself”, in the case of Type 1 DM, if your body is producing insulin, the sees this insulin as a foreign invader and destroys it! What is insulin you ask? Insulin is a hormone that our pancreas (an organ in the body), allows the body to break down sugars. Without this protein, our blood glucose (sugars) levels rise and are not able to properly return back to normal ranges. This disease is also something you will have to live with, as there is no cure. However, there is good news, you will be able to take control of your sugars with the help from your doctor(s), dieting, and exercise!

After you have met with your doctor, you may experience a series of moods, these feelings can range from fear, nervousness/uncertainty to even anger! Don’t worry, you are not alone! You are not alone with this disease and there numerous ways to cope and deal with the symptoms! One of the best steps you can take with your recent diagnosis is of acceptance and realizing that it will not control your life.

One of the best ways to fight this disease is with proper dieting & exercise. Additionally, your doctor will prescribe insulin – this will come in the form of injections, patches or even a pump! This man made insulin will assist your body in lowering blood glucose levels. Proper dieting and exercise can lower these levels even more. One of the biggest challenges I have experienced with dieting is to cut my carbohydrates & sugars intake – I have a large sweet tooth! Your doctor may inform you of a special chart that I use weekly to ensure that I am following the correct meal plan for my body. The Glycemic Index is a chart that measures the sugar content found within foods. Sugars can come in many different forms in foods, from carbohydrates, natural fruit sugars and additives.The glycemic index is system that ranks foods 1-100 based on their effect of blood glucose levels; 100 is set as pure glucose. The lower the number falls on the GI, the slower it affects the blood glucose level, thus a “better” choice for diabetics. Additionally, diabetics should avoid to many carbohydrates, as the body processes these types of foods into sugars, usually falling on the higher end of the GI scale. Generally, you want to achieve 45-60 grams of carbohydrates a meal. Examples of these foods include starches (grains, rice oatmeal), fruit and juice and some dairy products. When there are no labels present, these are general guidelines for 15grams of carbohydrates for a few foods:

  • 1 small piece of fresh fruit (4oz
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup of black beans or starchy vegetable
  • 2 small cookies
  • 6 chicken nuggets
  • ¼ serving of medium French fry

In addition to counting your carbohydrate intake, everyone can benefit by reading and understanding nutrition labels. Look at serving sizes, grams of carbohydrates, look at calories (roughly 2000/day for women, 2500/day for men). Additionally, to assist with reducing the risk of stroke, monitor your saturated & trans-fat intake & sodium for blood pressure levels. To help a diabetic patient or anyone who is worried about their dieting, the American Diabetes Association has helpful hints & ideas on how to overcome the worries of proper eating. Their link http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/ & http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/carbohydrate-counting.html are specifically designed to help understand proper eating habits. Choose My Plate also has helpful hints, especially for younger children, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate.

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