Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Big Positive Strides - Non Scale Victory

For the last week or so I have been tracking my fasting blood sugar.  This is something that one normally does at one's annual physical.  However, since my last annual physical was in 1996, I was forced to take matters into my own hands and buy my own glucose tester so that I could check my own blood sugars.  Why?  Because of my rampant family history of diabetes, and a general feeling of guilt, of course.  The usual reasons.

As you may recall, my fasting blood glucose levels were between 6.1 and 6.8 mmol/L (roughly 110 to 123 mg/dL), which put me in the pre-diabetic range.  Not diabetic, but not normal, either.

As soon as I saw these numbers, I began taking a good hard look at my diet, and in particular, at the carbohydrates I was ingesting, as carbs are directly linked to blood sugar.  As it turns out, I (previously) had a very high carb / low vegetable diet, which likely contributed to my not-so-normal blood sugar readings.

Diet is an important component of blood sugar levels.  Last week was the first full week of food tracking that included beverages - - and in particular, alcoholic beverages (sigh) - - and the first full week of carb monitoring.  It was a tricky weekend because the Betty Crocker Diabetes Cookbook that we were using includes a lot of snacks (vital for insulin dependent diabetics, too high in aggregate carbs for me), and it was tough to keep my carb intake at 200g/day or below.  I was generally successful, but at times it was challenging.

The other component of blood sugar management is weight, and more particularly, weight loss.  The CDA and ADA both say that the risk of advancing from pre-diabetes to full-blown diabetes can be reduced by about 50% with the loss of 7% of your body weight.  I've lost more than that, and continue to lose weight, but it has to be a long term commitment now. 

This morning I checked my fasting blood sugar and saw a reading of ... 5.4  (!!) mmol/L (roughly 97 mg/dL), which is in the NORMAL range.  Normal blood sugar values are 3.9- 5.5 mmol/L (or approx. 70-100 mg/dL). This is a very big deal, not just because it is a normal result, but also because it shows that attention to diet and regular exercise can have a positive effect on my blood sugar levels.  In other words, it means that diabetes is not a pre-destined condition for me, and that I can do something to avoid it if I take steps now.

Normally blood sugar swings around a range of values, and I will likely be above 5.5 mmol/L in the days to come ... but now I can hope to have further values below 5.5 mmol/L, as well.  In time, perhaps the default result will be in the normal range, and I can stop monitoring every morning, and step it down to once a week or so.

This is not to say that "I am not pre-diabetic".  I think that with my family history of diabetes I will always be a pre-diabetic, just like an alcoholic is forever an alcoholic.  But if I can be a pre-diabetic with normal blood sugar values, that will be all right for me, even if I have to watch my diet and weight for the rest of my life. 

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