Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Easy Answers

Throughout my life, I've been underweight. I've come to notice that most of dietary advice just implicitly assumes that all people always just want to lose weight. I'm sure this has triggered in me an allergy towards easy answers suitable for everyone.

I've learned this with diabetes as well. When we're taught the basics of the condition and the treatment, it's of course good to stick to the basics. But oversimplifying diabetes can lead to frustration and a burnout. It did for me.

You're told you can calculate your carb ratio and insulin sensitivity by just measuring your blood glucose just before and two hours after your meal, and that's relatively simple. And you do that, even eating a same pre-packaged meal each time, that even has the nutrition values printed on the packaging -  and you still keep getting different results each time. It just makes you feel discouraged, stupid, and disappointed.

The same with diabetes and physical exercise. As a general rule of thumb, physical exercise enhances the effects of insulin and lowers blood glucose. I notice this quite clearly when running, for instance. But with football it's a totally different game. My glucose tends to rise quite dramatically, and I need more insulin during games, not less. Part of that is due to type of exercise, also running sprints and intervals is different from running a long distance with an even pace. Another part is the competitive nature of the sport, and the adrenalin that produces. Just knowing physical exercise generally lowers blood glucose is not what I need as a diabetic. I really need to understand more of the complexity of the matter.

Lately, as a startup entrepreneur, I've done my fair share of public speaking. It has interesting effects on blood glucose as well. The adrenaline just pumps my glucose levels up. I've seen many people in diabetes online communities testifying similar results.
So there is a plethora of things affecting our blood glucose levels. Thinking you can easily calculate the effects of a meal with two measurements ignores these other factors. At the very least, you need to know to take many measurements, and estimate the averages. Much better would be to understand as much as possible of the other factors, and take those into account when estimating the effects of one variable.

Sticking to the simple answers has not been helpful for me. I would greatly appreciate healthcare system in general moving from that old broadcast model (one message for all) to more personalized information and advice. I've seen that change take place in media, and believe that with the current availability of wellness trackers and medical devices, the technology makes this transition possible also in healthcare.

This is my third post for the Diabetes Blog Week. The theme for today is What Brings Me Down. For me, that has been the easy, over-simplified answers.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - the oversimplification of how to treat and the one size fits all approach is so frustrating!!