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How to Enjoy the Christmas Season with Diabetic Loved Ones

Posted on November 14, 2019 at 11:30 AM




Image by Becca Clark from Pixabay


November is National Diabetes Month, which lines up very well with a season in which sweets and carbs are highly prized as part of holidays from Halloween through Valentine's Day. I would like to share a bit about my Boaz's encounter with pre-diabetes, but also the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Also,  ways you can help people with pre-diabetes, types 1 and 2 diabetes have a safe and enjoyable Christmas holiday season.


 

Pre-diabetes Hits Home


 

My hubby noticed puffiness in his feet and ankles one day. "I need to get back to running regularly," he stated. But exercise was only a temporary fix for this swelling. He began complaining of not feeling well, too. One day, he asked me if there was an odd bump in what was actually a straight line where he was looking. I checked the line out and said, "No, Hon. There is only a straight line." So he went to his eye doctor to ask about it. He was given a grid chart to check his vision daily. Still, we had no idea his blood sugar was higher than usual. That is until he went for an annual check-up, and the blood work showed slightly elevated blood sugar, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. Keep in mind that I cook very healthy meals at home. However, his metabolism is sluggish, even when exercising. Type 2 diabetes runs in his family, but he attributed it to his family's traditional Southern cooking. It is quite possible a hereditary disposition exists alongside Southern cooking kicks family members into type 2 diabetes. When we discovered what was going on, I started making super low-carb meals for him. He only eats food on the low category of the glycemic index. He has lost some weight, the puffiness in his ankles is gone, the bump in his vision is gone, his blood sugar is in the normal range, and he feels so much better. Catching pre-diabetes early and correct it rather than to allow it to transition into type 2 diabetes is essential.


 ***** Special Note: This article is not to be construed as medical advice. Please, consult your medical provider.



Types of Diabetes and Differences


 

Pre-Diabetes


 

There are distinct differences in the types of diabetes, even though someone may be insulin-dependent it doesn't mean they have type 2 diabetes. First, let's look at pre-diabetes before transitioning into type 2 diabetes, with blood glucose levels higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic (Mayo Clinic).


 

Pre-diabetes, or fasting blood glucose levels of 100-125mg/dL, according to the American Diabetic Association, often has no symptoms. It is usually discovered in routine blood work done at an annual medical exam (Mayo Clinic). Those who do have symptoms may have the same symptoms as someone with type 2 diabetes (Diabetes.org).


 

The treatment for pre-diabetes is lowering carbohydrate consumption while increasing fiber content and balancing with low-fat proteins. Also, pre-diabetics benefit significantly by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables from the low glycemic index (GI Index), reducing or eliminating pre-prepared meals, avoiding added sugar, while adding aerobic and strength exercises three to five days a week for at least 30 minutes per day. Of course, you will also lose weight as a great side benefit of a healthy lifestyle change (UPMC). The doctor will periodically check blood sugar levels to help the patient make positive progress and review medications and supplements to see if they are causing some of the problem, like corticosteriods, glucosamine chondriotin, and some heart medications. He or she may have the individual use a home glucose monitor. Prevention is key to avoiding type 2 diabetes.


Type 2 Diabetes


 

Type 2 Diabetes is a tremendous concern for several reasons: vision loss, neuropathy of feet, damage to vital organs, stroke, high blood pressure, and the potential for amputation of toes or feet due to gangrene-- a serious infection-- in poorly managed cases (Diabetes.org). This type of diabetes is significantly common here in the U.S. due to our highly processed foods, frequency of consuming fast foods, and high consumption of snack foods.


 

The pancreas slowly decreases insulin production, making it difficult for the pancreas to handle the amount of glucose coming into the bloodstream. Fasting blood glucose levels for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is 126 mg/dL or higher. The doctor may do an oral glucose test. If blood sugar levels are between 140-199 two hours after drinking a sugary liquid for this test, the person would be considered pre-diabetic. 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes. Diabetic coma usually happens when the person's blood glucose level is 600 mg/dL or higher. Another measure is the A1C, which gives a better overall view over three months of how well blood glucose is being managed. An ideal A1C is between 4% and 5.6%. Understanding your numbers with type 2 diabetes is critical (WebMD).


 

This type often occurs in adults, not children. Some pregnant women may have gestational diabetes, putting both the mother and baby at risk. It usually resolves after the baby is born, but must be managed well during pregnancy. Symptoms include: extremely thirsty, urinate frequently, unusual hunger, fatigue, dry mouth, itchy skin, blurry vision (WebMD). Some people say that someone with undiagnosed diabetes has a fruity smell to their breath. People who have had high blood sugar for a long time frequently get yeast infections, have sores that don't heal well, and pain or numbness in feet or legs due to damaged nerves (Diabetes.org).


People with type 2 often start with an oral medication to control their blood sugar along with dietary changes and exercise. As a diabetic gets older, or with poor management, they may need to inject insulin.



Type 1 Diabetes


 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is diagnosed most commonly in children and young adults. It has nothing to do with their eating patterns. The immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas causing it to stop producing insulin. Symptoms show up with a matter of days or weeks (CDC).


 

Along with the symptoms described in type 2, affected children, teens, or young adults may begin vomiting due to ketones that build up in the system, threatening possible kidney damage. They also lose weight quickly. This is a life-threatening disease that must be well-monitored and controlled with insulin for the rest of their lives. Many type 1 diabetics have insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors attached to their bodies to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Avoid blood sugar crashes by taking special precautions balancing insulin and food intake. Hypoglycemia, blood glucose 70 mg/dL or lower, occurs when there is more insulin than blood sugar. It causes blood sugar to rapidly drop to scary low levels. It is imperative to carry glucose tablets or candy as an emergency sugar supply in case of hypoglycemia (Diabetes.org).


 

Considerations for Holiday Gatherings


 

Family and other holiday gatherings are like navigating a minefield for all types of diabetes. Because most foods are high in processed carbohydrates, sugars, and fats, but low in healthy low-carb options, diabetics either don't eat or they eat foods that significantly elevate their blood sugar. It is better to steer clear of alcoholic beverages for a few reasons. Still, it does spike blood glucose for pre-diabetes and types 1 and 2. Type 1 will consider carb count for intake versus insulin they need to inject, so save the packaging so they can do their calculations. Diabetics who are not insulin-dependent will need to choose their treats carefully. Even though diabetics may balance their carbs to insulin ratio, it is inconsiderate to not have sweeteners like Stevia or Equal for coffee and tea. Also, serve unadulterated fruit and vegetable options. Consider spiralized zucchini in place of pasta, riced cauliflower instead of rice, low-fat cheese cubes with whole-grain crackers. For more ideas, visit Healthline.com and Diabetes.org. Ask your guest for suggestions, as well. Your diabetic guest may also need a quiet, out-of-the-way place to check blood sugar levels. Let them know ahead of time where they can go for privacy for their blood sugar checks. The bathroom is usually busy with lots of guest, so a bedroom or an office makes a great private space.


 

If you feel put out accommodating a guest with food concerns, consider this passage, "To love him [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33 NIV. If you were the person who had pre-diabetes or diabetes, how would you want others to treat you? Many options are easy to have available. Let your guest(s) with pre-diabetes or diabetes know what your menu, ask for suggestions, and ask them to fill in any gaps. Kindly keep packages available in the kitchen for them to look over. You would be surprised how many sugar-free options have a lot of carbs in them. Your guests will greatly appreciate your willingness to care for them. Consider it a gift you give them.



Refrain from parenting your guest, even though you mean well. Let them make their own food choices since they are already monitoring their blood glucose. If this person looks glassy-eyed, is unusally fatigued, and shaky, they may be suffering from hypoglycemia. If so, they need to consume sugar right away. Offer candy or honey to them and help them put it in their mouth. If they pass out, call an ambulance. Do NOT try to give them anything by mouth if unconscious as it can cause choking (WebMD).Stay with them monitoring their pulse and breathing. Keep other guests out of the way and have someone watch for the ambulance and bring paramedics to the place where the diabetic is waiting. 

 

Summary


 

Pre-diabetes is a precursor for type 2 diabetes and can be turned around to avoid becoming diabetic. Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 in that type 2 is a combination of hereditary factors combined with overconsumption of carbohydrates and sugars. These cause the pancreas to reduce insulin production. Whereas, type 1 is an autoimmune disease that develops in children, adolescents, and young adults, regardless of their food choices. Pre-diabetes and type 2 can be improved or eliminated by regular exercise and dietary changes. Type 1 will never be cured. Still, a healthy diet and exercise can help this person live a quality life in spite of the necessity of lifetime insulin dependence and stringent glucose monitoring.


 

Simple options exist to accommodate diabetic guests. Allowing them to celebrate the Christmas season with you joyfully is a great gift you can give them. Both of you will be greatly blessed!


Resources:

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278


www.pinnaclehealth.org/wellness-library/blog-and-healthwise/blog-home/post/taking-steps-to-reverse-pre-diabetes


www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prediabetes


www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type1.html


www.diabetes.org/diabetes/type-1


www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes


www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications


www.gisymbol.com/about-glycemic-index/


www.healthline.com/nutrition/dash-diet


www.webmd.com/first-aid/low-blood-sugar-hypoglycemia-treatment

 


New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


 

 

Categories: health, special health conditions, holidays

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