Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reviews of diabetic cookbooks

I'm not much of a fan of the low-carb diets that are promoted for diabetics, but I do realize that having type 1 is a bit different than having type 2.  Whatever type you have, though, this article has a few suggestions for holiday meals, based on some of the top diabetic cookbooks:

Holiday dishes fit for a diabetic

The white bean and tomato soup sounds especially good right now, with colder weather setting in!

My husband is a vegetarian and I consider myself a flexitarian, so I don't really eat a lot of meat around the holidays, even when we celebrate with meat-eating family members.  No big loss to me, as I never really did like turkey.  What about you?  What do you usually eat around the holidays?

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to prevent insulin injections from hurting

The other day I wrote about an article in USA Today, dispelling some of the myths surrounding diabetes.  In addition to the 5 myths debunked in the article, the article started with a 6-question quiz to test the reader's knowledge about diabetes.  One of the questions was about whether insulin injections should hurt — the quiz said no.

I was amazed at how many people took exception to that in the comments.  A whole lot of adults started whining about needles hurting them, as one commenter put it.  The thing is, I agree with the author of the quiz — with the advancements in medical technology, injections don't hurt if you are doing them right.  The needles are 30 gauge or smaller these days, and shorter than a centimeter.  I take between 5 and 8 injections every single day, and I hardly even feel them unless I do something wrong.

The vehemence in the comments made me wonder how many people don't know how to properly give themselves an injection.  Many of these people said they had been diabetic for many years, and that's how they know it hurts.  But that just makes me wonder whether they have seen an diabetes educator since the early days of their diagnoses, to make sure they are injecting themselves properly and using the most modern technology available.

I am not a diabetes educator by any means, but I can offer some tips from my own experience.  Here is what I would recommend:

1. Make sure you are using the smallest needles available.  With an insulin pen delivery system, you should be able to get ultra fine short needles, which are 30 or 31 gauge, and about a centimeter long (if not shorter).  These are the needles I use, and I can tell you, I hardly feel them.

2. Choose your injection sites carefully.  There are certain, more sensitive spots you should avoid.  I like to give myself injections in the backs (the fleshy part) of my upper arms, the sides of my stomach, and sometimes my inner upper thighs.  However, I was once warned by another diabetic not to give myself an injection too close to my belly button, because it can hurt pretty bad there.

3. Rotate your injection sites every time.  I have noticed that if I give myself an injection in a spot that has been used too much lately, it will burn like the dickens — but that doesn't mean that injections hurt.  It means I made a bad call.  Your educator should tell you to rotate your injections every time, and this is one of the reasons why.  (The other reason is because that spot will develop scar tissue that prevents the insulin from absorbing in your system correctly.)

I typically rotate back and forth between both sides of my stomach and both upper arms.  However, just that much rotation isn't enough.  You have lots of room on your tummy for those tiny little shots — use it!  When you rotate back to your stomach, move your shots around so that you aren't injecting on top of last night's or that morning's shot.  I vary my shots up and down on my upper arm and tummy, and further in and out from my belly button.  Every square inch is a different injection site.  There are many more injection sites on your body when you think of it that way, and very little reason why you ought to be causing yourself pain by injecting in the same place twice in too short a time.

4. Inject large amounts of insulin slowly.  If you have a larger shot to give yourself — i.e., 15-20 units or more — it tends to sting if you shove it all in too fast.  That is because your cells are having to essentially stretch to make room for all the insulin.  Again, this is completely avoidable.

If you use a vial and syringes, you will have an easy time adjusting the speed at which you inject the insulin.  Instead of depressing the plunger all at once, just do it in increments, a few units at a time.  If you are on insulin pens, not all the pens allow you to do this — with Lilly pens, you just press the button at the end of the pen all the way in to inject the insulin.  With other brands, however, the inner workings of the pen turn unit by unit as you press the button, allowing you control over how fast the insulin is injected.

These are a few of the tricks I have found work well to keep my insulin injections painless.  Like I said, I inject myself a minimum of 5 times a day, and rarely ever feel any pain — rarely ever feel anything at all, even!  If you have anything to add, please feel free to add it in the comments.  I don't think anyone in this day and age ought to walk around thinking that it should hurt to give yourself insulin!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Setting the record straight on diabetes

USA Today ran a great article recently on diabetes: 5 myths about diabetes.  I love these kinds of articles, because they dispel the myths that are often repeated even by the media, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

If you read the article online, it starts out with a 6-question quiz about diabetes.  If you have the disease and have a good handle on it, most of the questions should be easy.  For instance, we all know that eating right as a diabetic isn't expensive, and most of us know that you can get diabetes even if no one in your family has ever had it.

The article dispels some of the more critical myths, in my opinion.  For instance, it completely debunks the idea that diabetics can't eat anything with sugar in it.  In explanation:

"We know now that table sugar doesn't raise blood sugar any more than other starches, like a baked potato, rice or bread," says Elizabeth Kern, director of the diabetes program at National Jewish Health in Denver.

I think there is still evidence that certain carbs raise blood sugar faster than others, but if you are aware of that, take the right amount of insulin, and monitor your blood sugar a handful or so of times a day, it won't be a problem for you.

The article also talks about how having diabetes doesn't automatically mean you'll have other complications such as blindness and kidney failure.  Those complications are associated with untreated diabetes, so the article stresses the importance of proper treatment.

The final myth the article debunks is the idea that having diabetes will limit your career choices.  It shouldn't — we have the ADA for that, though apparently military colleges can still deny anyone with diabetes.  (WTF?)  You may have to fight for it — my last employer tried to cover less of my health insurance premium than my non-diabetic co-workers, so I had to contact a lawyer — but having diabetes shouldn't have an impact.

In regards to this last one, I think that sometimes the only impediment to someone's career is actually in their head.  I have heard diabetics complain about how crashing wipes them out, rendering them unable to come to work on time, or stay at work if they are already there.  Crashing happens, but it shouldn't frequently happen with enough seriousness to impact your work performance if you take good care of yourself.

Can you think of other negative myths about diabetes that you would like to set straight?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prevalence of diabetes going up

There was a scary article the other day about the rising prevalence of diabetes:

Diabetes may affect as many as 1 in 3 Americans by 2050

Really?  A third of the population?  That is INSANE.  C'mon people — lay off the fast food and the soda, and get off the couch once in a while!

Of course, I know that not all type 2 diabetics (what the article is primarily talking about) are diabetic because of diet and lack of exercise.  But those factors are responsible for many cases of type 2 diabetes, and certainly for much of the rise in diabetes.  Our American lifestyle has got to change, and fast, if we don't want a third of our population to be diabetic in 40 years.