PHOTO CREDIT: Me.
I've been a Type 1 Diabetic since around the age of 10.
Today, I'm much older and much more experienced when it comes to managing my condition.
If you're new to Type 1, or if you've been dealing for a while but still haven't nailed down that blood glucose control as tight as you like, here are 3 things you can do right away to get your condition under better control.
I use an insulin pump and CGM, but if your insurance is crap, or you don't have insurance and you don't have access to a pump and CGM, you don't need them to take advantage of these easy steps.
Before we get started, you should always check with your doctor before making huge changes in your care routine. With that said, I have yet to find a doc or endochrinologist who would disagree with any of these items.
Also, if you're a Type 2, these steps may help you dial in your number a little tighter. Again, talk to your doc.
1. Test Your Blood Using This Pattern!
PHOTO CREDIT: Me and my bleeding finger.
If your blood glucose levels are all over the place, there's only one way to fix them.
If you're a new diabetic, I highly recommend using this pattern.
1) Test before you take pre-food insulin.
2) Test 2 to 3 HOURS after your take your insulin.
That second step is the ONLY way to determine if you made the right insulin and food decisions in the first step.
Your insulin dose is based on two things, what you're eating, and how much pre-existing blood glucose you need to lose. You'll never know how much to take unless you know what effect one unit of insulin has on those two things.
To figure out your food number, you need to test your blood, take one unit, eat something with an accurate measure of carbohydrates (glucose tabs are great for this), then test two hours after. Let's say you ate 12 grams of carbohydrates and took one unit of insulin. If you're running low after 2 hours, that tells you that 1 unit of insulin is a bit high for 12g of carbs. You'll need to dial it back, maybe to .7 or .5. If you're running high, you know that you need more than 1 unit to cover 12g. Remember that this carb:insulin ratio is going to flux a bit depending on your activity level too. The first time you do this, you'll want to test again an hour later. Some people hang onto insulin longer than others.
To figure our your pre-existing blood glucose number, you need to fast for a couple hours, test, take one unit, don't do anything strenuous, then test again two hours later. The difference between the numbers is how much your blood will drop based on one unit. Again, the first time you do this, you'll want to test again an hour later just in case your body hangs onto insulin longer than 2 hours.
If your doctor is telling you that you only need to test 4 times a day and only at meal times, you're going to have to challenge that. Get them to write a prescription that will allow you to test up to 10 times per day. If your doctor balks, find a new doctor. If pill-poppers can "doctor shop", you can too . With that said, a good doc will always encourage you to test more.
Those two ratios, carb:insulin & BG:insulin, are going to come in handy for the next step.
2. Count Your Carbs!
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The one number you need to track when it come to your food is carbohydrates. Check your nutrition labels. There are also phone apps that can help you with things that don't have nutrition labels. I use MyFitnessPal .
Carb Counting and frequent BG testing brought my A1C below 7.0 after only a few months of using it, and it's stayed there ever since.
One thing to keep in mind with carb counting, pizza...will...WRECK YOU.
Meet the enemy...
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Pizza not only has a TON of carbs, it's also LOADED with fat which will slow down the digestion of those carbs. You'll need to take 2 doses of insulin, one before you eat it, and one a hour or two after you eat it to deal with it. This applies to ANY food that has a ton of carbs and fat.
I try to eat low carb as much as possible. The carbs I do consume tend to be whole grains and fruit, and I eat those sparingly.
If you don't have insurance or your insurance sucks, insulin gets really expensive, really fast. Even if you're using WalMart ReliOn brand , it still a big non-optional dent on a budget. Eating low-carb will reduce your need for insulin. You don't have to go full ketogenic diet, but cutting "trash" carbs out will go a long way.
And never forget that pizza is the devil. A tasty, tasty devil.
PHOTO CREDIT: Midwest Communications, Inc. & Shutterstock
20 to 30 minutes a day.
20 to 30 minutes of cardio a day dropped my A1C to a perfect 6.0.
Once again, if insulin affordability is an issue for you, and you need to use less of it, 20 to 30 minutes of cardio a day will do it.
You don't need fancy gym equipment. There are plenty of free cardio routines that you can find online to get this done. Running, aerobics, anything that gets you moving and sweating. If you're way out of shape, then take a walk every day and work your way up to it.
For me, this is the toughest one to stick to. I'll stab my finger a million times and count carbs all day long. I freaking hate exercise, but I can't argue with the results.
When I do all three, my A1C is a perfect 6.0.
Test your blood, count your carbs, move your butt & you'll have tighter control before you know it!
*** In addition to being a Type 1 Diabetic, "Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest Communications. You can Book Face with him here .