Hello, diabetesforum. Diabetes runs in my family tree on my mother's side in a major way. It is my opinion that I became pre-diabetic and then diabetic much earlier than I otherwise would have because I recklessly mismanaged my health when I was young, especially during my twenties. I had issues, and not getting a grip on them played a major role in why I didn't take proper care of myself.
What things might I have avoided to stay non-diabetic longer? I would say the obvious ones are: 1) cigarette-smoking/ tobacco chewing (the latter lamentable behavior mostly took place when I was a teenager); 2) high-fructose corn-syrup soda-pop (I think that one is a major player in the exploding diabetes epidemic); 3) eating junk-food. I trust that these assertions aren't terribly controversial.
What made me realize that I had a problem I later learned was diabetes was being tired all the time and being increasingly prone to carbohydrate cravings if I didn't carefully manage my consumption of sugary and starchy carbohydrates. Eating bread also made me terribly sleepy. The most noticable change was when pre-diabetic insulin resistance caused me to gain a very large amount of weight on my lower-middle front torso area. It took me a long time to realize that all these things indicated that something was seriously wrong. I am now inclined to think I was in a pretty well-maintained state of denial. I also had issues with a disorder known as candidiasis, in which the candida albicans yeast organisms in the colon over-proliferate and cause problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and rashes, among others. It is my understanding that diabetes and candidiasis often go hand-in-hand.
My denial crumbled when I started thinking about my situation with carbohydrate cravings (I attributed the tiredness to the candida problems I had begun treating a while before then with an effective probiotic) and did some poking around on the Internet. I often wonder how many early diabetics have been snapped out of their denial by the Internet and how easy this wonderful tool makes it to investigate any topic about which one may be slightly curious.
I have good health insurance from work, so I went to the doctor to get checked out and sure enough, I hade Type 2 Diabetes. I was put on Metformin and a blood pressure medication (finding one that was good for me was a struggle, but I'll save that story for later if I do tell it at all) and changed my eating habits dramatically. I think the biggest favor I did myself was eliminating white-sugar- and white-flour-based processed and junk foods from my diet. I also ultimately decided to eliminate wheat entirely because of its blood-sugar-raising gluten. My breakfast consists of turkey breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs with a medium-small serving of oatmeal mixed with coconut oil. It's at breakfast when eating too many starchy or sugary carbohydrates can put me on a carb-craving roller-coaster for the rest of the day, so I regard that meal in particular as the crucial one. Everything you eat, not to mention how much, when you are managing this condition is certainly important, though.
I don't think all carbohydrates are bad because that in my view is black-and-white thinking, which the realities of life generally don't support. I favor relatively lower-glycemic-index carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. I tend to think that carbohydrates that are allowed on the candida-diet tend to be better for diabetics as these tend to be relatively lower-glycemic-index carbs.
It probably doesn't even need to be said that getting a certain amount of exercise, such as a 45-60 minute vigorous walk every day, is of crucial importance to managing diabetes. My numbers have been showing considerable improvement, and to demonstrate this, I will post the results of my first blood-test in August 2009 and my most recent one in November 2010.
Blood Glucose Fasting: 159 -- 112
A1C: 7.8 -- 6.0
Cholesterol Panel: 246 -- 201
LDL Cholesterol: 167 -- 126
HDL Cholesterol: 45 -- 55
Triglycerides: 172 -- 110
I also lost 25 pounds, going from 260 pounds to 235 pounds. (I am a 43-year-old caucasian male who is about 5'6" with a large frame.) I believe it was the Metformin that made most of this weight-loss possible, as well as playing a major role in my improved numbers. (I take a gram of Metformin a day, in two half-gram doses.) Triglycerides is the hardest number for me to manage. My clinic dietician thinks I eat too much food, but I do a lot of physical work for a living, so I need the fuel. Besides, I'm a pretty lonely guy, so I'm not very big on compounding my issues by adding hunger to the mix. I have been eating progressively less food since May/ June 2009, when I first began to realize I needed to make changes. I still have changes I need to make because I have always been a slow changer. But these changes are probably the most important and necessary I have ever made.