The "Bare Minimum Method" of Diabetes Management

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • I've been in a bit of a diabetes funk lately.


    This month will mark my fifteenth year living with this disease. When I was diagnosed, my care consisted of several blood glucose tests (with a meter that took 45 seconds to display a result) and injections of NPH and Regular insulin. Back then, the "bare minimum" resulted in blood sugars running in the 300 mg/dl range and very poor A1c averages. Thanks to my insulin pump, more efficient insulin and glucose monitors, today I can get by with minimal attention to my diabetes and still keep adequate blood sugar control.


    I've noticed before that I tend to be an extremist with my diabetes care. If I put forth the effort consistently, I achieve wonderful blood glucose control. However, when I decide that my diabetes can take a back seat to other interests and pursuits (i.e. raising a baby), my control suffers. I know there's a balance to be had, but I'm missing it right now.

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    Several weeks ago, I attempted to restrict my calories and saw a significant drop in my breast milk production. Thus, I decided that my priority for the rest of the year (until Sienna is one year old) is to produce as much milk as possible for her. Keeping my calorie intake up is important, since breastfeeding burns 500-600 calories per day. Basically, I gave myself the green light to eat whatever I want for the next several months. This meant an infusion of processed, refined carbohydrates into my diet. Graham crackers, Honey Nut Cherrios, pizza, cookies, and tortilla chips, food items that were avoided like the plague during my pregnancy are now weekly, if not daily, indulgences.


    My bare minimum method of diabetes management still includes testing about 10 times per day, bolusing for meals and snacks, and adjusting basal rates to compensate for certain food choices or exercise. However, I'm not planning my insulin boluses very carefully, thus I experiences highs and lows fairly often because of poor bolus timing.

    My blood glucose meter average has crept upward. I'm waking with numbers that would have given me a panic attack several months ago. Because I'm eating more refined carbs, I'm craving them all the time. It's a vicious cycle. I want to reverse these trends, but I'm experiencing inertia. How do I control my blood sugars more effectively without feeling that I have to put forth all the effort I did during pregnancy?


    The idea of "working smarter" keeps popping into my head. It's a phrase I've heard thrown around the business world lately. Basically, instead of working harder, you should focus on efficiency and thus accomplish more with minimal effort. So, where to begin?


    I suppose one assumption I could revisit is the conclusion that just because I can't restrict my calories at the moment, doesn't mean I should "eat whatever I want." The extra calories I need to consume can come from fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrate sources. Empty calories like chocolate, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods should remain occasional treats, not dietary staples. Perhaps if I consciously give myself permission to eat more of the healthy foods I typically eat, then I won't need to fill up on sweets. (Find more diabetes diet advice)


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    Please let me know if you have any other ideas on how busy moms can manage their diabetes more efficiently! I'll work up a list and report back soon...

Published On: July 31, 2008