Basic information for Newly Diagnosed Diabetics

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Diabetes is the general term to describe people who have blood that is sweeter than normal. A number of different types of diabetes exist.

A diagnosis of diabetes tends to be a big shock for most of us. It’s far from the end of the world though and on this forum you'll find well over 147,000 people who are demonstrating this.

On the forum we have found that with the number of new people being diagnosed with diabetes each day, sometimes the NHS is not being able to give all the advice it would perhaps like to deliver - particularly with regards to people with type 2 diabetes.

The role of carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are a factor in diabetes because they ultimately break down into sugar (glucose) within our blood. We then need enough insulin to either convert the blood sugar into energy for our body, or to store the blood sugar as body fat.

If the amount of carbohydrate we take in is more than our body’s own (or injected) insulin can cope with, then our blood sugar will rise.

The bad news

Research indicates that raised blood sugar levels over a period of years can lead to organ damage, commonly referred to as diabetic complications.

The good news

People on the forum here have shown that there is plenty of opportunity to keep blood sugar levels from going too high. It’s a daily task but it’s within our reach and it’s well worth the effort.

Controlling your carbs

The info below is primarily aimed at people with type 2 diabetes, however, it may also be of benefit for other types of diabetes as well.

There are two approaches to controlling your carbs:
  • Reduce your carbohydrate intake
  • Choose ‘better’ carbohydrates
Reduce your carbohydrates

A large number of people on this forum have chosen to reduce the amount of carbohydrates they eat as they have found this to be an effective way of improving (lowering) their blood sugar levels.

The carbohydrates which tend to have the most pronounced effect on blood sugar levels tend to be starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and similar root vegetables, flour based products (pastry, cakes, biscuits, battered food etc) and certain fruits.

Choosing better carbohydrates

The low glycaemic index diet is often favoured by healthcare professionals but some people with diabetes find that low GI does not help their blood sugar enough and may wish to cut out these foods altogether.

Read more on carbohydrates and diabetes.

Over 250,000 people have taken part in the Low Carb Program - an evidence-based, structured education course that is helping people lose weight and reduce medication dependency by explaining the science behind carbs, insulin and GI.

Eating what works for you

Different people respond differently to different types of food. What works for one person may not work so well for another. The best way to see which foods are working for you is to test your blood sugar with a glucose meter.

To be able to see what effect a particular type of food or meal has on your blood sugar is to do a test before the meal and then test after the meal. A test 2 hours after the meal gives a good idea of how your body has reacted to the meal.

The blood sugar ranges recommended by NICE are as follows:

Blood glucose ranges for type 2 diabetes
  • Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/l
  • 2 hours after meals: under 8.5 mmol/l
Blood glucose ranges for type 1 diabetes (adults)
  • Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/l
  • 2 hours after meals: under 9 mmol/l
Blood glucose ranges for type 1 diabetes (children)
  • Before meals: 4 to 8 mmol/l
  • 2 hours after meals: under 10 mmol/l
However, those that are able to, may wish to keep blood sugar levels below the NICE after meal targets.

Access to blood glucose test strips

The NICE guidelines suggest that people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should be offered:

  • structured education to every person and/or their carer at and around the time of diagnosis, with annual reinforcement and review
  • self-monitoring of plasma glucose to a person newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes only as an integral part of his or her self-management education

Therefore both structured education and self-monitoring of blood glucose should be offered to people with type 2 diabetes. Read more on getting access to blood glucose testing supplies.

You may also be interested to read questions to ask at a diabetic clinic.

Note: This post has been edited from Sue/Ken's post to include up to date information.
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