Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food and Diabetes- Part 1: The Basics

Today, in light of Thanksgiving being this weekend, I thought we could talk about how food and diabetes go together.

Often times, people think that people with diabetes aren't allowed certain foods, such as candy, cookies, cakes, pies, etc. That is not true. People with diabetes, more specifically Type 1 Diabetes, are in fact allowed to have these things. They just need to learn portion control, moderation, and cover the carbs with insulin properly as well as monitor their blood sugars closely.

For educational purposes, let's start with the basics.

There are two main types of carbohydrates. Simple carbs, and complex carbs.

Simple Carbohydrates:
 A simple carbohydrate are things like fruits, candy, sugar, etc. These are carbohydrates that go in and out of your system pretty rapidly. They spike your blood sugar relatively quickly, but do not typically keep it up for an extended period of time, unless accompanied by a complex carbohydrate, protein, or fat. Simple carbohydrates are good for diabetics to use to bring their blood sugars up quickly if they are having a hypoglycemic reaction.

Complex Carbohydrates:
  A complex carbohydrate are things like breads, pretzels, etc. They take a little longer for your body to digest and raise your blood sugars, however, they also remain in your blood stream a little longer than a simple carbohydrate as well.

  Protein, as most people know, is most often found in meats, peanut butter, etc. However, it is also found in many other things as well. Not all protein is created equally, just as not all carbohydrates are created equally. Protein takes a while longer than carbohydrates do to be broken down in your body and used... in fact, it can take a couple of hours!

  Fat. Everyone knows that we all should watch our fat intake to acheive optimal health. Fat takes the longest for your body to break down and absorb. Once it is broken down, it is stored in your cells for later use. Fat can take several hours to break down... up to 12-24 hours!

These are the basics. I have decided to make the "Food and Diabetes" posts into a multi-part post, since there is so much information I could tell you about this topic. If you have any questions regarding this topic, or don't understand how I have things worded, or would just like to say hello (LOL!), please feel free to comment!

*NOTE: In this post, when I say "diabetes", or "diabetics", I am referring to Type 1 Diabetes and/or Type 1 Diabetics. People with other forms of diabetes may have different effects to food consumptions, types of foods, or may be instructed to do things differently by their health care providers. Please, always, ALWAYS go according to your health care team's medical/dietary suggestions, no matter what type of diabetes you may have. This article is primarily for educational purposes on how food affects blood sugars in general.


Reyna said...

Dawn, Wonderful post...very informative. Sometimes those darn complex carbs mixed with high fat really bite us about 6 hours after Joe consumes them!

Happy Thanksgiving Friend!!!

KentuckyGal said...

I had gestational diabetes all 3 times I was pregnant but have not developed it outside of that ... yet. We deal with it on both sides of our family, though. Thanks for the info. Found you on Twitter Moms.

Sugar Free Candyland said...

@Rayna.. Thank you!!

@KentuckyGal..Thanks for vising my blog! I never experienced gestational diabetes personally so I dont have any hands on, personal experience about that, nor type 2, so most of the things discussed on this blog are about things I have learned over the last 2 years of my son having Type 1. Outside of that, the other forms of diabetes, my knowledge is limited to just what I have read and have been told by people living with it. I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and come back and visit often!

BeachMommy said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog and a mom of a newly diagnosed T1 3 year old. I enjoy reading your previous posts whenever I get a free minute to actually read something! I'm wondering if there are sites, iPhone Apps, etc. that you would reccomend for reference, tracking, food ideas for toddler/menu ideas and basic 'hints' for getting through the day. My son gets injections twice to 3 times a day with the same amount of meds each day and eats 35g meal/15g snack timed out each day. He's still in the Honeymoon stage so we are adjusting his doses with his Dr after 2-3 days of odd numbers. We have a great team of Dr.s but I need some mom advice on the day-to-day.
I would appreciate anyone's advice at this point!
Thanks again for all you do for us T1 parents!
Jett P.
Coto de Caza, CA

Sugar Free Candyland said...

Hi BeachMommy, and welcome to Sugar Free Candyland! I personally haven't looked too far into the phone apps, however, I have heard of a few. I will do some searching for you here shortly, and see what kind of apps I can come up with and post about them. As far as food ideas for toddlers.. My son was diagnosed when he was 3 1/2 years old as well, and was on the sliding scale (which sounds like what your son is currently on also). We just gave him the same things we always have, and just adjusted the portion sizes to fit into his meal plan. I also liked to try to keep things, especially snacks, as "kid friendly" as possible, so I would get things like the packaged 100% fruit chewies, etc. I also used to get the fruit roll ups (not the fruit by the foots though, I didnt look into those ones so check your labels on the fruit by the foots!) for him as well. He LOVED the kinds that had "tatoos" for the tongue! Those were usually between 12 and 15g carbs. My son is a BIG fruit eater too, always has been! And, fruit is a good healthy snack, so you know I was all for that! Be careful though, watch his blood sugars if you give fruit as a snack, because if your son is like mine, he may experience crashes because of the simple carbs. If so, you can always just give him half a cheese stick to go with it, to "hold him over" till the next meal. One thing us "D moms" gotta remember, our kids can still eat just about anything they want, its all about portion control! Once you get more comfortable with the "new life", don't be afraid to experiment a little. Once you learn how differnt foods affect his blood sugars, you will then be able to use your judgement on when and how much of anything he can have, while keeping his blood sugars within a decent range. When you son was diagnosed, did they give you a Calorie King book and a "carb exchange" book? Those two books, even to this day, have become a vital tool for us! Be sure to keep your calorie king book updated! They publish a new edition every year, and things can change drastically in that book yearly, as the FDA changes things often.

Sugar Free Candyland said...

One of the biggest "hints" I would have to give you is to get involved with a support group, whether online or locally. There is a GREAT support group on facebook! If you have facebook, look along the right column of my blog and add me as a friend. I will be able to introduce you to several other d moms. There is usually ATLEAST one other d mom online at any given time, regardless of what time zone you live in lol! They have been a blessing to me and my family! Also, check out www.childrenwithdiabetes.com They have a great chatroom with D moms!

Another piece of advice I would have to give would be to do your research, on ANYTHING t1 related! Knowledge is power!

Lastly, don't forget about yourself! I know that Diabetes management can be stressful! Find something you can do, to help take your mind OFF diabetes for atleast a few minutes a day, to relax. I strongly believe that kids can sense when we are stressed out, and it could make them feel stressed too. They want mommy and daddy to be happy, just as much as THEY want to be happy!

Oh, and, don't be shy to try to explain things to your son. Ever since the day my son was diagnosed, we have tried to teach him some of the simpler things about diabetes (like, teaching him to say no when someone asks him if he wants candy or gum for starters.) Now, he is 5 years old, tells people no when they ask him if he wants a piece of candy or gum, learned how to look at labels and find where to see how many carbs, proteins, and fats are in a given product, tests his own blood sugar (with little assistance), etc. So, don't be afraid to ask him for help, but if he says no, its ok, he will come around in his own time :) One of the BEST things we did for him was we got a "Rufus bear" from the JDRF when he was first diagnosed. This is a cute little bear that has little patches all over his arms, legs, butt, belly, etc. and the child is able to give Rufus shots whenever HE gets shots! It has been SUCH a great adjustment tool for Lenny!

Let me know if you have facebook and can connect to me on there, if not, we will work out another way to connect on a day to day basis!