Community Member Spotlight: Dan (Part 2)
It is time to get to know some community members! We recently spoke with Dan Meredith, an active community member on our Facebook page. Dan frequently interacts on our Facebook page, sharing his meaningful perspectives, experiences, and giving support to other fellow members also managing life with type 2 diabetes. Below he details his experiences with diet plans, exercising, and dealing with diabetes frustrations. This is part 2 in a 2-part interview series. Read part 1 for Dan's diagnosis story and advice to the newly diagnosed!
Current type 2 diabetes management plan
I manage my T2D with diet and exercise. Initially, I was put on Jardiance. The doctor chose that over metformin because of my IBS issues. I strictly followed the 1,800-calorie diet restrictions. In fact, most days I ate less than 1,800 calories. The Jardiance flushes sugar out of your body, effectively taking out around 300 calories. I also began to walk or do the elliptical machine for at least 30 minutes a day. As a result, I lost weight very quickly.
At my January check-up, my A1C was 5.8. I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t reached normal. The doctor kind of laughed at me and said, “I had hoped you might reach 6.5 to 7.1!” I had lost 70 pounds, which was my goal, and my cholesterol was also normal.
Initially, I was worried about keeping my glucose down without the help of Jardiance, especially since I also needed to increase my calorie count to stop losing weight. Before quitting Jardiance, my fasting readings were in the upper 90s. The first week and a half after, they were between 105 to 117. Then they settled back into the 90s.
Maintaining with diet and exercise
It took me a couple of months to get my calorie intake and exercise balanced out. I lost another 10 pounds in the meantime. Starting in May, I added bike riding to my exercise. By July, I had lost another 10 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 90 pounds. I’ve gotten good at regulating my calorie and exercise, and I have held my weight steady since then.
At my May check-up, my A1C was 5.4. My cholesterol continued to be normal. My most recent check was in November, and again my A1C was 5.4 and my cholesterol was good. My blood pressure remains good without medicine.
Tracking calories for diabetes management and weight control
I track all of my calories and carbs with the “Calorie King” app on my iPhone. I test my fasting glucose every morning. I keep a spreadsheet on my phone with all of my fasting readings, which gives me my 14-, 30-, and 90-day averages. It also tells me my average since being diagnosed and my average since stopping Jardiance.
I am very vigilant about my weight. As I tracked my weight loss, I saw my glucose levels come down. I realize that if I gain the weight back, my sugar will go back up.
A typical diet
My diet is pretty consistent from day to day. For breakfast, I eat a large bowl of Cheerios (65 to 70 grams) and a smaller bowl of Wheaties (35 to 45 grams), both with almond milk and a banana. For lunch, a sandwich of whole-wheat bread with several slices of turkey breast, 2 slices of roast beef, and 2 slices of American cheese. I also have half-cup of unsweetened applesauce and a spoonful of peanut butter. For dinner, baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, green beans, a garden salad with a hard-boiled egg, and a small amount of ranch dressing. I also have around 25 grams of honey mustard as a dipping sauce for the chicken and another spoonful of peanut butter for “dessert.”
Eating out with type 2 diabetes
Eating out can be a challenge, of course. For fast food, before the pandemic, Egg McMuffins were a standard choice for me because they were served all day. Now, I go for an Arby’s Beef and Cheddar sandwich, a Quarter Pounder with cheese, or Chick-fil-a Grilled Nuggets. I get a side salad instead of fries. (Sadly, McD’s doesn’t do salad since the pandemic). Since my A1C has been down to the normal range, I’ve learned that can have pizza once a week and still have a good fasting reading the next day. At a sit-down restaurant (when they’re open!), I have a steak or grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a salad.
Managing frustrations with type 2 diabetes
My biggest frustration is that stress has an impact on my numbers. I can follow my diet and exercise program exactly and end up with a high reading when I’m stressed. In the current pandemic, I’ve had trouble keeping my stress level down from time to time. Of course, prayer, reminding myself of God’s promises, and remembering how He has blessed me in the past help relieve my stress.
Diabetes management one day at a time
I treat my diabetes like an alcoholic or drug addict treats their addiction: one day at a time. Because of that, I don’t do “cheat days.” Imagine if an alcoholic had a cheat day once a week. That would be a disaster! Having said that, very rarely will I eat a sugary treat. A couple of weeks ago, I had a small ice cream cone. Whatever I have must fit in my calorie count for the day. I’ve noticed over the last year that if I eat anything sugary, I don’t feel good about it afterward. That, plus the fact that I like getting good glucose readings, makes it easier to avoid sweet foods and drinks.
Did you know that diabetes is a risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease?