How Yoga, Exercise, Diet and Dietitian helped me to beat my Diabetes 2
Total years in practice: 30
I come from a family with a bad history of type 2 diabetes from my father’s side. Growing up, I have seen my paternal -side uncles and aunts struggle with the complications of type 2 diabetes. This was 30 to 40 years ago where there not was not much awareness of the disease. I am used to them talking about it as it is not a big deal. I lost my paternal grandfather 25 years back due to complications from diabetes - proteinuria leading to kidney failure. The turning point in diabetes awareness came when my father’s younger brother passed away due to heart attack at the age of 45. He was diagnosed with diabetes during his teens and it had been uncontrolled ever since. His sugars were always on the higher side to the point even small wounds in the extremities took a while to get healed.
I knew I would get diabetes very young but it hit me hard when I was diagnosed with diabetes at 23. I was not taking any preventative measures (which I wish I could taken to avoid the onset of diabetes) diet-wise or exercise-wise. When I was diagnosed, I was not even in the prediabetic range. There were a couple of things that was diagnosed in my blood work that time:
1. My HbA1c value was in the 9 range, which means that my blood sugars were running in the 200 range for a while. HbA1c is the blood test to detect your blood sugar levels for the 3-month average.
2. I had proteinuria, which means my kidneys were leaking protein due to high blood sugars and the values were very high that time. This test is done with a 24-hour urine test.
3. My cholesterol ratio was not balanced and my triglycerides were very high, close to 500.
This was quite traumatic at that time, since my husband and I were trying to conceive. Thankfully, my doctor was very supportive and helpful. She immediately assigned me to a diabetic counselor with whom I had so many sessions about how to check your sugars, carbohydrate counting and general diabetic awareness.
I am reaching out with my story, to help anyone out there with the same scenario like mine. The main thing is not to lose hope even when things seem quite scary. Hereditary diseases like diabetes can be controlled and in some cases can be reversed with lifestyle changes and diet. It is very essential to keep the blood sugars in the normal range. This prevents so many long term complications like diabetic retinopathy (where the eye nerves are affected and the eye sight is compromised), kidney disease, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy (nerve disorder to the extremities) etc.
These were the steps that I took to keep the blood sugars under control and reversed my proteinuria and reduced my triglycerides.
1. Getting registered with a diabetic counseling class or with a dietician, who can help you with diabetic meal planning. This is very important to learn about carbohydrate values for most of the food groups and how to plan your meal accordingly with appropriate carb, protein and fat value.
2. Exercise: I started walking for 30 minutes to an hour everyday and I still try to continue this everyday. Walking is the best way to reduce the sugars. Initially, it took a week for my blood sugars to come in the normal range since they were very high for a while and then it remained stable after that. Any form of physical activity for 30 minutes to an hour everyday helps in the long run to keep diabetes under control. Even now, when my blood sugar is high once in a while (mainly after we go out to eat) I go for a brisk walk. The sugars come to the normal range after the walk.
3. Monitoring blood sugars: I invested in a glucometer and started checking my blood sugar levels on a daily basis and started tracking the range in which they run. This is a very important for a diabetic. It is good to at least check the blood sugars once daily to see the range in which they are running. I would also suggest to check the fasting blood sugar at least twice or thrice a week since it is very important to keep fasting sugars under good control for the long run. I also check my sugars 2 hours after eating a new food or a different fruit. If the sugar is high, I will avoid that food. This way, now I am aware of what types of food raise my blood sugars and the foods that are better for me.
4. Diet: Eating healthy, low-carb foods is very essential in maintaining good control of diabetes. I usually go for 1 to 2 servings of carbohydrates (which is equal to 30 grams ) with a serving of vegetables or a protein source of 3 grams or less than 3 grams. I also make sure the fat value in every meal is less than 3 to 5 grams. My lunch typically consists of 1 cup of rice( it can be brown rice, red rice, cracked wheat, millets or ragi kali) with a serving of sambar or dhal , legumes, or any gravy with less fat, any stir-fry vegetable, sometimes with a small serving of chicken, fish or egg. Dinner will typically be the same or sometimes 2 rotis with a cup of vegetable curry. I usually eat a fruit 2 hours after a meal to avoid blood sugar spikes.
I try to avoid animal protein in my diet due to my proteinuria. If you are diagnosed with any form of kidney disease, it is advisable to consume very less salt and avoid animal protein like chicken or lamb. Fish and eggs are ok for consumption in moderation.
5. Lifestyle changes: Stress plays a major role in increasing the blood sugars, which I have experienced personally. Yoga and meditation is very good for diabetes and overall health. Doing yoga at least 3 times a week works wonders on our overall health. If possible, try out aromatherapy, acupuncture or acupressure, and other alternate therapies like these. They open up our body systems and regulate the overall functioning of all the organs.
6. Get your blood work every 3 to 6 months (3 months if any value is off the range) to keep an eye on kidney and liver panel and the cholesterol and mainly the blood sugars.
7. Eating more raw foods like salads and fruits in moderation helps the body heal and keeps the sugar craving under control. This is my personal experience.
It has been 12 years now since my diagnosis and my proteinuria has been reversed with my cholesterol and triglycerides under good control. I got pregnant with twins 9 years ago and my pregnancy was a healthy pregnancy with good diabetic control though I was on insulin during the pregnancy, delivering a boy and girl. Keeping the sugars under control sometimes does make me feel stressed out and even guilty when I indulge on my favorite foods but I try to get back again on the healthy range. There are some struggles along the road but I feel it is better this way than suffer from long-term complications.
I have also shared a chart for the carbohydrate value and a list of healthy snacks ideal for diabetics.