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How I Live with Type 2 Diabetes in Daily Life

In this post, I will share how I live with diabetes on a daily basis – both in terms of how I think and how I act.

My Diabetes Status I have had the diagnosis for about 15 years and have been either medication-free or on Metformin, which I am currently taking. I have tested a lot with this medication, and it seems that I do not have any measurable benefit from it. I hoped it could lower my fasting blood sugar and Dawn Phenomenon, but it has no effect on it. This is most likely because I eat in a way that my blood sugar does not rise much, and I exercise a lot. This negates the effect of the medication, according to a research study I read, and it seems to be correct in my case. So, I could easily do without the medication, but it is said to have other good benefits beyond blood sugar control.

How I Manage My Blood Sugar Daily As mentioned in a previous post, I started by following the official dietary guidelines, which generally consist of many carbohydrates, some protein, and very little fat. A couple of years on this diet clearly showed me why the disease is considered "chronic and progressive" because it just did not work. The many carbohydrates raised my blood sugar too high after each meal, and the medication dose (Metformin) was gradually increased.

Therefore, I began to study the disease and its causes and symptoms. I wondered why I was recommended to eat so many carbohydrates (300-350 grams per day) when carbohydrates affect blood sugar the most. I tested drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of protein and fat. My blood sugar normalized within 4-5 days, showing me that I was on the right track. When I started this diet, there was virtually nothing about low-carb diets, so I had to "invent" it myself. I did not really know what foods I could eat, but slowly found out by measuring my blood sugar again and again and again. I spent a lot on measuring equipment, but it was worth it.

Food and Drink I have since stuck to the low-carb diet, so I am living proof that people can adhere to such "restrictive" diets for a long time, which our healthcare system apparently does not believe. In reality, there is nothing restrictive about keeping carbohydrate intake low. You can eat almost normally, except for potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, etc. These foods can also be eaten in small amounts, but so little that I prefer to do without, and it is not a big sacrifice but a pure habit.

And just to clear up a big misconception that persists, even among our doctors and dietitians – eating low carb does not mean gorging on saturated fat. I eat few carbohydrates (about 30-40 grams per day), about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and supplement with healthy fats, which also include some saturated fats but not unhealthy fats like most seed oils and blended products (Becel, Kærgaarden, cooking oils, etc.)

The foods I eat consist of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese, above-ground vegetables, organic butter and cream, olive oil, nuts/seeds, berries, and occasionally homemade low-carb bread. No ultra-processed foods with lots of additives, sugar, and refined oils.

Drinking is very simple because I only drink coffee, tea, and tap water. No soda, juice, or similar drinks, even if they have zero nutrients. I have completely weaned myself off the need for everything to taste sweet, and I find that ice-cold tap water tastes excellent.

Of course, I sometimes consume something less healthy, but most days look like this. No one would claim that it is unhealthy to eat these kinds of foods.

Intermittent Fasting/Time-Restricted Eating Most of the time, I fast and eat what is called 16:8, meaning I fast from 8:00 PM to 12:00 PM, giving me an eating window from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Essentially, this means I do not eat breakfast but have lunch, a small afternoon snack, and dinner. All with few carbohydrates, but healthy and varied with plenty of above-ground vegetables, lots of meat, and some healthy fats.

Exercise I am retired, so my daily work is exercise, as I like to say. I train six days a week, alternating between strength training, running, and cycling. The seventh day is rest, where I take a more relaxed walk or bike ride. Overall, I train about 10-12 hours a week. Exercise is excellent for diabetes because it makes the muscles more insulin-sensitive, and if you have eaten yourself to high blood sugar, you can quickly lower it with a run or bike ride, preferably with a high pulse. Furthermore, exercise lowers overall fasting blood sugar and also the Dawn Phenomenon in combination with low carbohydrate intake. Finally, exercise is a significant factor in keeping body weight at a reasonable level.

As it turns out, I have quite a good handle on my diabetes, and I can still keep my blood sugar, including my long-term blood sugar, reasonably low, even without medication. It is satisfying after 15 years with the disease. I have no diabetes-related complications of any kind, and this is undoubtedly due to how I manage the disease.

In daily life, I hardly think about diabetes because my lifestyle has become a pure habit, just like other people's way of life. However, I do spend some diabetes-related time in our Facebook group, Diabetes 2 – Denmark, where I am a co-administrator. This group has over 8,000 members, so it requires some time and interest, which I do with pleasure. If I can help newly diagnosed people get a better start than the not-so-good one provided by the public healthcare system, then my time is well spent.

Everyone is, as always, welcome to comment on my post or ask questions.

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