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Vicki Hyatt

I am just one of the thousands of individuals coping with diabetes. In the most recent community health assessment released by the county health and human services department, chronic disease prevention is the third priority, behind mental health/substance abuse and perinatal/early childhood health.

Diabetes is our most common chronic disease, affecting 16.6% of the county’s residents, or roughly 10,000.

I’ve known about my diabetes diagnosis for probably five years, and probably had the condition longer than that. There were no symptoms, and only a routine test revealed its presence.

The progression was slow. First pre-diabetic, then borderline diabetic, then a level of concern. At each stage along the way, I’ve made unsuccessful stabs at getting it under control. Steady exercise, watching carbs, engaging a health coach, eating more vegetables, learning the glycemic index, the list goes on.

All worked for a while, but soon cravings gave way to common sense and rationalizations took hold, leading to the delusion that I was feeling fine and could worry about this tomorrow. Sound familiar? If so, perhaps this will help you as it has me.

For those of you lucky enough not to have high blood sugar — or live with someone who has it, the information below may sound unfamiliar, but for the rest, I’m hoping this will be helpful.

It wasn’t until I got a continuous glucose monitor that I finally learned to understand the full impact of each individual food. It has helped me learn that all carbohydrates are not equal, and perhaps that not all carbs impact everyone equally.

For instance, a slice of whole-grain bread has 11 carbs, not a lot if that is practically the only carb for a meal.

I’ve found a slice of bread topped by a heaping helping of tuna salad is very satisfying, but it consistently spiked the glucose level. When I switched to putting the tuna salad on seven Sociable crackers (those and Finn Crisp were the lowest carb count I could find) everything was fine, even though the carb count was equivalent.

Traditionally, we’ve added celery and sweet pickles to tuna salad, but switching to dill pickles made a difference, too.

Another thing I learned is that popcorn (which I love with plenty of butter, and that’s allowable) has hardly any impact on my blood sugar, though the carb count suggests it should, but watermelon spikes my blood sugar, even though it shouldn’t according to the glycemic index level.

Once I use the continuous glucose monitor for several months, I anticipate that I’ll know exactly what foods to specifically avoid and which ones I can embrace. It’s been energizing to unlock the keys to what can make a difference.

I became so interested in the new path toward better health that I even upgraded my old Fitbit, one that was several iterations behind the newer models that companies continually release to keep we consumers spending money. It was barely holding together anyway. Once the duct tape no longer worked, I went to Gorilla glue, and the glued piece was falling apart.

The newer model reminds me to take at least 250 steps every hour, tells me how well I slept and has me striving for 3 miles daily, up a mile from before.

For those interested in getting a continuous glucose monitor, your doctor will likely tell you neither insurance or Medicare will pay for it unless you are on insulin, which I wasn’t. I said I needed to get it anyway, and it has probably been the best health investment I’ve made.

If you find yourself stuck when it comes to addressing underlying diabetes issues, take it from me. A continuous glucose monitoring system can help.

Reach Vicki Hyatt at news@themountaineer.com.

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