Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Diabetes? I’m a Diabetic? NOT!… (with me)

by Anthony J Sepe




Diabetes, you ask about.  One of the many things we do as Dietitians,’ is to  assess  an individuals nutritional status.  In doing so, we know that a metabolic disorder or medical condition can prevent our body from absorbing specific nutrients, such as carbohydrates or protein.  One common example, diabetes, which is the inability to produce enough insulin, the hormone our bodies use to metabolize carbohydrates. 

I’ve often been told over the years by patients, ‘ I’m a diabetic.’   However, when in treatment with me, quickly, and I hasten to add, very quickly-- it is learned, that,   YOU ARE NOT A DIABETIC, but rather, “YOU ARE A PERSON WITH DIABETES  Now, re-read that statement again.  Let it sink-in.  Next, I would like you to take a piece of paper.  Draw a large circle.  Inside the circle, please write your name.  Outside of the circle, draw spokes, (like rays of the sun) all the way around the circle.  Further, on each line or ray of the circle, write something about yourself.  For example, mother, wife, daughter, friend, PTA Director, bowling leader, father, golfer … etc. (I think you get the idea)

Do you know why I just did that exercise with you?  Because you are a person.  You are a person who may happen to have diabetes, or you may have been just diagnosed with diabetes, or you may be a person that has maintained tight control of your diabetes.  In any of these situations, you are a person-first, because you still are the mother, wife, daughter, friend PTA Director, bowling leader, father, golfer, or tax accountant, or what have you.  If you have a headache, are you still the same person?  If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or low blood sugar, are you still the same person?  Well, then, here I teach you that:  Because you may be someone with Diabetes, you are still the same person, and, don’t let it define you.  All those spokes around the circle that I had you draw, make-up-you! 

Diabetes can affect many millions of Americans, without, even knowing they have it.  Diabetes, of course, must be effectively managed and managed properly.  I said earlier, that diabetes was the inability to produce enough insulin, which is the hormone our bodies use to metabolize carbohydrates.  Another way to say the same thing, is simply:  diabetes affects the way your body and my body uses energy in our food.

Glucose is sugar and is let go from a carbohydrate in our food.  When the sugar is in the blood, its then known as, blood sugar and sometimes, blood glucose.  Insulin takes care of and controls this blood sugar (in those individuals that do not have difficulties with insulin or otherwise are healthy individuals.)  Glucose then goes to a receptor on the cells (like a vacuum cleaner that sucks it inside the cells) and it gets converted into energy.

With diabetes, ‘the person with diabetes’ often times will have difficulty keeping the blood sugar stable.  Our bodies don’t make enough insulin and can’t use it correctly.  Carbohydrates, protein and fats are not used in the right kind of way.  The sugar builds-up in the blood, which then causes the blood sugar levels to go up.  It should be used for energy, but instead, is spilled over into the urine, and excreted.  This makes the bean-shaped kidneys work twice-as -hard, which can cause constant running to the bathroom to urinate.  It can also cause someone to be very thirsty, and  constantly drink water because of trying to quench thirst.   Therefore, following an eating plan is very important for  ‘a person who has diabetes.’


  1. This a sweet article. I don't have diabetes but have a friends and clients that have struggled with it. It does seem to become there identity and hinders there lives. For writing with some heart.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  3. This is an excellent article, Anthony. Education is key to conquering diabetes, and you've provided a great deal of information for those who suffer with this disease.

    I'm on 500 mg. metformin twice daily for impaired glucose levels. My husband was diabetic, and I struggled to keep his levels down. He loved sweet treats and pasta...it was difficult.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with everyone. I always look forward to stopping by.(smile)

    'Til next time,

  4. You are most welcome, Mattie; my pleasure!

    I encourage you to stay the course. Key points: Serving sizes and carbohydrate. I don't believe that there is any "bad" foods for us. Of course, there will always be food that will be better for us or that would be a much better choice. For example, let's take pasta used in your message. A 1/2 cup of pasta, is equal to 1 serving. And, 1-serving is equal to 15g of carbohydrate. Therefore, if your meal plan allows for 3-4 carbs for dinner--one could have 1 cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of sauce, which in actuality, is plenty. And, not deprived. (one small apple = 15g carb; 1-slice of bread= 15g carb; or milk+ 15g carb. Therefore, these items all offer the same abount of carbohydrate content.)

    If someone were 22 years of age, I'd really be monitoring this intake closely of this young person. On the other hand, If this someone was 87 and wanted a piece of pie, you bet I'd let them eat it. There is a way to make it all fit.

    Your input is always appreciated and thank you for taking time to stop by and comment.
    My best to you always.