First of all, stop blaming yourself!
You didn’t give yourself type 2 diabetes. You inherited it. A non-diabetic can eat 300 jelly donuts per day for 30 years and never be diabetic. You inherited it from mom or dad. There is nothing you can do about it.
However, you can control it and delay the bad side effects.
Type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance. The cells in your body are not as sensitive to insulin as they should be. Hence, your pancreas has to put out more insulin to compensate and overcome the resistance. This works for a while, but eventually you become so resistant that the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin to keep your sugar levels in the normal range.
As we get older, less active, gain weight, or are under a lot of stress, take steroids, get pregnant, or take birth control pills our insulin resistance goes up. This causes us to identify insulin resistance sooner. Ten years ago, we used to diagnose type 2 diabetes at an average age of 51. Now the average age at diagnosis is 41 years of age. We are diagnosing type 2 diabetes earlier and earlier because we are less active, weigh more, and are under more stress (more steroids, more birth control pills, and more pregnancy or other high stress states).
How do we diagnose diabetes?
Non-diabetics fasting glucose is always under 100, their HgbA1c is always under 6%, and one hour after a meal their blood sugar is never over 140. These are all blood tests. If your numbers are higher, you have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
As soon as you are diagnosed, you should be on a medication called metformin and you should start trying to undergo lifestyle modifications. The only lifestyle modifications that work are exercise and weight loss. Both exercise and weight loss help re-sensitize your body’s cells to insulin. But you also have to be on metformin.
The American Diabetes Association recommends immediately starting people on metformin, along with diet and exercise. The reason being, we usually have waited so long to tell diabetics that they are diabetic, that we need to be aggressive as possible when we finally tell them they are diabetic.
Metformin acts in three main ways. It helps sensitize your body’s cells to the insulin that your pancreas is making. It prevents extra sugar production in your liver. It also helps prevent carbohydrate absorption in your intestinal tract. Most people on metformin lose about 10 to 15 pounds as well, which also helps sensitize your body to insulin. The best part is that it is generic and very cheap.
Studies have shown that people who exercise, lose weight, and take metformin for only a few years will show benefit many years later. Even 20 to 30 years later! If you were to start taking metformin today, and only took it for 5 years and then stopped, you would still demonstrate benefit, better over all health, and less insulin resistance even 20 years later. No one really understands this memory effect, but it is awesome. No other diabetes drug has been shown to do this.
Losing weight as a diabetic is harder, but it can be accomplished. Following the C3 diet should work for you. Just follow the C3 diet as I have outlined above. Carbohydrate reduction is paramount to diabetics and the C3 Diet is very strict about eating less carbohydrates and eating ones that do not raise your blood sugar. See the Glycemic Index section.
However, if you are on insulin, it will be harder to lose weight. The whole point of insulin is to take the extra calories and store them as fat. So you will gain some weight. You will have to work harder and watch your carbohydrates and extra calories even more to overcome this effect of insulin. The best option is to try and lose enough weight so that you will no longer require insulin or at least, not require as much. This may be impossible.
Diabetics on insulin, whether type 1 or type 2, can still manage to lose weight, but you are battling a tough battle. Following the C3 Diet and reducing simple, processed carbohydrates to as minimal as possible will help with weight loss and this is the best diet for that purpose. You can do it, you just have to understand what is actually going on.
Another option is to have your physician add a drug like Byetta that actually causes significant weight loss in diabetics. This is a great drug to combine with metformin and insulin. The only issue is tolerability and nausea. Your physician should titrate it up to full dose very slowly. Leaving patients on 5mcg once per day for a month isn’t unreasonable. Slowly work your way up. This is a lifelong problem, not an overnight issue.
Fortunately, there are lots of newer drugs that can help us manage type 2 diabetes. A lot of drugs that affect the hormonal pathways that suppress appetite are available and more are being developed daily. Symlin, Byetta, Januvia, as well as many others are already available. Talk to an Endocrinologist and diabetes specialist for the latest diabetes research and drug regimens.
Check back here often for more more up to date information as we learn more.