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July 20, 2005

Insulin, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Kicevo, Macedonia:

I'm from Macedonia and I'm fourteen years old. I've had diabetes less than two years. I take two kinds of insulin three times a day. My medi-care clinic is in Skopje. Could you give me some advice about what I should eat or drink to help my sugar come down? Can I change the insulin to tablets or medication?

Answer:

If you are receiving insulin several times a day, then you need to learn about food, carbohydrate gram counting or some other food system. This allows you to figure out how much insulin is needed for your body energy needs at any given time. You should review this with a dietician who knows about diabetes or with your diabetes physicians and nurses. An excellent book, Insulin-Dependent Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Adults, if you read English, can be purchased from Amazon.com and is written by Dr. Ragnar Hanas that can explain this in great detail. If this is too expensive, your diabetes team may have a copy already. The diabetes association of Macedonia may also have a lending library as well so please also call them. There is no magical food that keeps your sugars lower, but decreasing fast acting carbohydrates/sugars will help as will balancing foods at appropriate times of the day with appropriate insulin algorithms. There are no pills that replace insulin if you have typical, adolescent type 1 diabetes since the beta cells of the pancreas have usually stopped being able to make insulin. Please go back to your diabetes team and ask them these same questions so that they can give you individual, personal advice.

SB