Changes in Attitude
Fifteen years ago, I was fresh off a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and food had become the enemy. I was advised to make an appointment with a registered dietitian to help me overcome this newfound fear of eating. I was so afraid of carbohydrates that I lost 12 pounds in the month leading up to my appointment.
The dietitian told me I could have up to 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal but suggested I limit bread and sweets and focus more on fruits and vegetables. None of this was unreasonable, but I was used to eating pancakes drenched in syrup for breakfast and cheeseburgers with soda for dinner. Suddenly I had to consciously think about every item of food I put into my mouth. In the six months that followed, I dropped an additional 12 pounds.
I was now 24 pounds thinner than I was before my diagnosis. This should have felt like a triumph, given that I needed to lose weight, but I was undernourished—and depressed. I didn’t like having parameters on what and when I ate.
Despite that, I forced myself to get up to speed on this disease. I had a lot to learn. First lesson: Either you manage diabetes or it manages you. I learned that proper diet and exercise can manage blood glucose levels immensely. So I began making changes. Instead of eating all my meals out, I began preparing food at home. And I vowed to more consistently follow the advice I’d received about exercise by working out for 30 minutes a day at least three days a week.
Now, 15 years after my diagnosis, I walk 3 miles most days of the week, and it not only boosts me mentally, but it also allows me the freedom to eat the foods I love, as long as I watch my portion sizes. My blood glucose has remained within a normal range. And my weight has, too.
Over the years, I’ve talked to many people who were discouraged by their lack of success in managing their diabetes. I know from my own experience that type 2 transformed my lifestyle. So I tell them: With time, eating well and exercising regularly becomes a way of life. If I can change even one person’s attitude—by showing how it’s possible to live a happy and healthy life with diabetes—then I’m satisfied.
David Kosberg, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He enjoys exercising on a daily basis.
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