Patient Blogs | Diabetes
How I Got My Diabetes Under Control
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Diabetes is tough. I know. Having lived with diabetes for 23 years (first gestational, then type 2), I’ve been through many stages and changes.

I’ve taken insulin when I had gestational diabetes, Byetta when I couldn’t control my sugars. I’ve counted carbs, attended Weight Watchers, and toyed with South Beach, Sugar Busters and Atkins. I’ve visited a therapist/nutritionist for occasional binge eating issues.

And yet, given all this, and despite many missteps, today, at age 60, my morning blood glucose reading was 98 and my last A1C was 5.7.

How did I get here?

I wish I could say it was a miracle, with no work required. And I wish I could say that my way will work for everyone. But it wasn’t, and it won’t. All I can do is share what has worked for me and hope that it inspires you to find what works for you.

Here’s what I do:

1.  Cut as many carbohydrates as possible. I’m not only talking ice cream and cake; I’m talking everything. Rice, pasta, bread, high sugar fruits, carrots, and potatoes – the whole enchilada (enchiladas are off the list, as well). And I’ve exiled whole grains and brown rice as well. My endocrinologist has approved my diet, although he cautions that it’s definitely not for everyone.

 2. Rely on lean proteins and vegetables. Egg whites, chicken, fish, tofu, cheese, nuts and the occasional meat, paired with low-carb vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, zucchini, etc.), make up most of my diet. And I top it off with a glass of wine a day plus a little dark chocolate. I’ve melted off ten pounds with this regimen. Am I model skinny? No. Are my sugars in check? Yes, yes, and yes.

 3. Exercise faithfully. When I was younger, I was a runner, clocking up to six miles daily. My knees are no longer up for that task, but I haven’t stopped moving. Five days a week I bike an hour on my recumbent bike; two days a week I attend a body toning class that rotates between weight lifting, step, stretch bands, exercise balls and gliders. The class staves off boredom (is there anything more boring than riding a recumbent bicycle?) and helps raise my resting metabolism so that I can eat more.

 4. Keep in close touch with my endocrinologist. In addition to diet and exercise, I take Glucophage and a half of a tablet of Amaryl. At one time, though, I used injectables.  They worked well, but I became concerned about some of the long-term health risks. So I phoned my endo and talked it out with him and made the decision to give them up. I felt comfortable consulting him because we have a good relationship as partners in my healthcare. Every six months when I visit his office he takes time to talk with me – not only about my latest numbers, but also about my stress levels, my diet and any other concerns.

 5. Watch stress. Getting sick with a cold or overwhelmed with work or family troubles can send my sugars spiraling – even if my diet has not changed. I failed meditation, which never felt right to me, but I do try to take it easier on myself. If I fall off the wagon and give into the occasional ice cream cone, for example, I am careful not to beat myself up. By backing off myself – taking a deep breath and simply enjoying the break – I’ve been able to keep my sugars in check.

As I said, my regimen is not a universal solution for everyone. My main message is that learning to manage type 2 well is always a work in progress. Sometimes through trial and error, and then more trial and error, you can stumble on a plan that works for you.

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Ilene Raymond Rush

Ilene Raymond Rush

Award-winning health and science writer

Ilene Raymond Rush is an award-winning health and science freelance writer. Based on her own experiences with type 2 diabetes, she brings a personal take and a reporter’s eye to examine the best and newest methods of treating and controlling the disease.

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