Diabetes, Take It Seriously

picture of diabetes info

Dealing with Type II Diabetes

I am a former type II diabetic posting this information to contribute to the efforts of preventing and reversing type II Diabetes for a few reasons:

    1. I am a natural researcher, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, minister and former computer technician/engineer/executive, etc.; I love my wife, descendants, siblings and extended family, research and life, I know I have not completed my purpose for this existence. I do not want to be a burden to anyone and want to maintain a good quality of life.
    2. Hopefully, by blogging on this topic someone who has been ignoring or is not aware of the symptoms or early signs will be informed enough to take proper action such as getting checked correctly before it is too late. I was experiencing diabetic symptoms for many years, had blood glucose tests done frequently but never realized that I was diabetic, often doctors would ask “has anyone told you that you are prediabetic” since no one had ever told me that I was, my answer was always “NO”. These were my symptoms (recommended article):
      • Fatigue – it seemed that I had no energy and thought it was due to lack of sleep and depression; sometimes I felt like I would drop if I did not eat something, so I would usually opt for a candy bar and after a few minutes I was OK. My infrequent experience with severe fatigue spanned 9 years beginning in 2000.
      • Frequent urination – my kidneys were responding to the high levels of sugar but I thought I was urinating so often because I was drinking so much liquid (mostly 7-up). It is extremely important to let your doctor know things like this that seem to happen suddenly and are unusual. (I am trying to keep this as short as I can, so please forgive the snippets). (recommended article)
      • Having to drink a lot of fluids – I was feeling very thirsty and consuming at least a gallon of fluids each day (as much as 2 liters of 7-up).
a form of hemoglobin used primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time, generally 120 days (the lifespan of the red blood cell).

This test is better at detecting diabetes than the normal glucose test which measures your blood glucose levels at that particular time and can be misleading.
  1. On Jan 29, 2009 after informing my doctor during a routine visit that I was urinating as often as every
    image - syringe ha1c blood test
    Be safe ask for a HA1C test

    20 minutes for about 3 weeks, he left the room to consult with another physician, soon a nurse came to take my blood glucose, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes (AKA diabetes mellitus) at the time (3 hours after my last meal) my blood (fs) glucose reading was 393.0 and my HA1C was 13. According to the guidelines at the Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, the FS Glucose reference range is 70.0 – 100.0 as you can see my FS Glucose was almost 4 times the maximum, I could have gone into a diabetic coma; the HA1C reference range is 4-6 at 13 my HA1C was more than twice the max.
    I was sent immediately to the emergency room, where they administered insulin injections and after a few hours my glucose dropped to 217, they released me with a prescription for Metformin which I was to take 500mg twice daily. On Feb 5, 2009 they doubled the dosage since my levels did not improve, so now I am taking 1,000mg twice daily.

I had not started doing the right things yet, I did not realize learning to live with this disease meant changing my lifestyle. A few of my paternal first cousins informed me that many members of my paternal family had died as a result of diabetes. The short of it is that I started doing research to find out what I could do to get rid of this problem, I do not like taking medication, so having to take Metformin was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. By the way, to end the suspense, as of Oct 6, 2010, I am no longer taking medication for diabetes; and yes I make sure my levels remain normal, I am waiting, as of May 15, 2013, for the latest lab results to see if things are still OK. Update July 2013: the last HA1C was 6.2 and that is without regular exercise.

  1. Many Americans are walking around with undetected diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association using data from the 1999–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, among those with diabetes, the percentages having undetected diabetes were 42.2% (see article).
  2. It is a common disease in many families, I highly recommend checking your family history.
  3. A very puzzling fact is that even when blood glucose readings are high many physicians do not routinely recommend the HA1C test, it’s no wonder so many are undiagnosed.
NOTE: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) – National Diabetes Statistics, 2011 Fast Facts on Diabetes (Source)

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages which is 8.3 percent of the U.S. population

  • DIAGNOSED – 18.8 million people
  • UNDIAGNOSED – 7.0 million people


How I Managed to Safely Get Off of Metformin

This is how I did it (with the help of my LORD who gave me self-control via the Holy Ghost {I know that term is old school}), I started by searching the internet for solutions and it basically came down to making lifestyle changes in three ways:

  1. Eating habits – Change the frequency of eating, change the quantity of what you eat (portion control), change what you consume or allow to enter your body i.e., what you eat/drink/smoke (I quit smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages in 1977 {everything, yes I used to love getting high}) and finally change where you eat, i.e., fast-food vs. restaurants that serve nutritious meals vs. preparing meals at home. The biggest challenge with eating (for me) actually comes from other people not understanding the need to avoid certain foods and constantly trying to encourage me to “just taste it” or “doing it this time won’t hurt you”. It reminds me of the drug days that I do not care to remember.
  2. Get plenty of exercise regularly; mix it up, cardio-vascular, strength, resistance, brisk walking, jog, run, stretching, deep-breathing, etc. I actually lost 75 pounds in 18 months the greatest contributor to the weight loss was exercise, up to 1.5 hours per day 6 days a week. I am no longer maintaining that type of discipline for many reasons but I am gradually getting back into the habit. I am basically eating the same but without the exercise, I have gained 35 of the 75 that I lost, I guess you can say I found them. Fortunately, with the eating disciplines my blood glucose levels are still very good.
  3. Get proper rest. With sleep apnea and insomnia this has been a very difficult task, my biggest challenge is being able to turn my brain off to allow proper rest. My current environment is also a challenge at times, loud talking neighbors, barking dogs and other ambient noises disturb my sleep.

It Is About Permanent Life-style Changes

  • Eliminate cigarette smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, sodas especially diet sodas  (I was addicted to 7up however, root beer was my favorite I used to love a good COLD root beer) and juices I thought it was OK to have 100% fruit juices but was told by my dietitian “no more than 4 oz per day” as it contains “natural sugar”. NOW I basically drink filtered water (at least 64 oz daily) and on a very rare occasion will drink green tea with lemon slightly sweetened with XyloSweet.
  • Gradually eliminate eating fried foods; to treat myself or whenever I crave it, I will permit myself to have a piece of fried chicken, fish or French fries and when I do I fry it in extra virgin olive oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I still eat potato chips on a daily basis but plan to eliminate them soon.
  • Eliminate white rice, white breads (I loved fresh breads of all sorts), regular pastas. Replace the white rice, with brown rice, or buckwheat. Replace the white breads with 100% whole wheat, I make my own using whole grains, 100% whole wheat flour and to make it less dense a little white flour.
  • Limit eating out especially fast-food places; I fortunately like to cook and have never cared for eating in restaurants, I do it no more than twice a month but can go for months without eating something other than what we prepare at home.
  • Change the type of carbohydrates; complex carbohydrates are best for you. Sources: About.com: Nutrition MamasHealth.com
    • Complex carbohydrates are found in fruits (be careful with the fruits that are high in sugar content, I now have no more than three small portion servings of fruit a day),vegetables (eat plenty of these; try not to overcook, I steam most veggies no longer than 5 minutes; I rarely use canned anything, I mostly eat fresh veggies) nuts, seeds and grains (drink plenty of water as you increase your grain intake); I generally have something that includes oatmeal, wheat bran, flax seed and other grains for my first meal each day. Do not be afraid to experiment with your meals to find what works for you.
    • Some examples of foods high in starchy complex carbohydrates include bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, dry beans, carrots and corn. Green vegetables like green beans, broccoli and spinach contain less starch and more fiber. All grains include starchy carbohydrates. However, whole grains — such as whole wheat pasta — are better for you because they also have more fiber.
    • Complex carbohydrates should be a major part of your diet; about half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates — mostly from grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Only a few of your daily calories should come from simple carbohydrates.
    • Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugar molecules linked together; Examples of simple carbohydrates include glucose, fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar) and galactose (the sugar found in milk). Simple sugars are used as ingredients in candy, ice cream, cookies and other sweets. Plus they occur naturally in fruits and lesser amounts are found in vegetables.

Fast-food is a last resort for me but unfortunately cannot always be eliminated especially when traveling. I used to make sure that I took something to snack on or have a small meal with me anytime I left the house; this has been extremely hard to maintain. So when I am away from home and have to eat something the first choice is a sit-down / dine-in restaurant. I have found that Coco’s, Denny’s (never liked them before), Baja Fresh, Carl’s Jr, I-HOP and others now have healthier menu choices.

  • Tips for eating / dining out:
    • Do not be afraid to let the wait know that you are diabetic and do not assume that they understand the restrictions.
    • Ask how each item is prepared; some restaurants have nutritional information on the menu or in a separate document.
    • Choose baked or broiled instead of fried.
    • If you must have beef or pork make sure it is loin, i.e., pork loin, sirloin, etc.
    • Do not hesitate to ask for substitutions, for instance some restaurants still do not offer brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat or whole grain pasta, so ask for a healthier substitute like more veggies or fresh fruit (make sure it is fresh and not packaged as it usually will include some type of sweetener).
    • When selecting chicken items ask if it was prepared without the skin.
    • Some breakfast restaurants offer Cary’s Syrup which is sugar-free (beware of this phrase “sugar-free”) always ask what sweetener is used. Pay close attention to the information on the labels, this products label can be perceived as stating that it is endorsed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) but actually it is informing you that they are “a sponsor of” the ADA. This syrup contains sorbitol a sugar alcohol and aspertame (Equal and NutraSweet) an artificial product manufactured in a chemical process. I pass on all syrups and ask for fresh fruit; a few berries and sliced banana mashed with a fork make a wonderful substitute for syrup. (An interesting article)
    • Use caution when selecting sugar substitutes / alternatives there are many choices so I encourage you to do research to find what you are willing to tolerate as well as believe. I try to avoid anything that is “artificial” it does not matter how many reports, studies or agencies say that the product is safe, I want things to be as natural as they can be. (An interesting article & another)
    • If the wait, manager or cook / chef cannot tell you what is in an item or how it is / was prepped or prepared my rule is to not order it.
    • “Organic” is now becoming a common word that we associate with safe, healthy and good, beware it is not always what it seems (I may blog on this in the future).

Experiment and Be Creative

image - make healthy choices
Courtesy of: Ann’s Simply Delicious Recipes and T&T Photography
Through extensive research and study I have found that we cannot always rely on government agencies like the FDA (Favoring Drugs Administration; JK, the Food and Drug Administration) to tell us what is safe or healthy, that will possibly be a topic for a different blog. Take Stevia for example, it is a natural sweetener that was not approved by the FDA until after PepsiCo, a co-developer of Purevia and Coca-Cola who endorses and / or co-developed Truvia introduced their products. (An interesting article)
After trying various products I have chosen XyloSweet, a product made from Xylitol, as my all-purpose 1-to-1 sugar substitute, I can only find it at Clark’s Nutrition & Natural Foods Market or online. The only other problem / complaint is that it is at least 10 times the price of granulated cane sugar, I pay $28 for a 5 lb. bag, OUCH! One way to reduce the amount required for most cooking applications I use fresh fruits, naturally sweet veggies e.g., carrots or sweet potatoes when appropriate. Again do not be afraid to try different things to find what suites you. One day I may create a diabetic cookbook with the many recipes that I have created.VERY IMPORTANT: Be careful that you do not over do it by cutting back or eliminating certain things you do not want to become hypoglycemic. I have experienced this condition, awakened by a sweat-soaked bed. Hypoglycemia will be part two so stay tuned. Needless to say if you are diabetic take your meds on time, follow the GOOD advice from your medical professionals and equip yourself with knowledge.I’m closing, stay informed, stay healthy and stay alive.

Artificial vs. Natural

My choice is natural vs. artificial any day and in every way. (What does Dr. Oz have to tell us about this?)

Recommended websites:

Site Link
Site Description
We lead the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fight for those affected by diabetes.
At LivesFit, we strive to sort out and simplify the oodles of wellness information and misinformation out there – bringing you straightforward articles about health, fitness and wellbeing.
EverydayHealth.com is a leading provider of online health information. We’re here to help you manage your own and your family’s conditions and overall well-being through personalized advice, tools, and communities. We’re committed to bringing you the most credible and relevant health information available online, and to giving you the best possible user experience. Our information is easy to understand and incorporate into your life every day.
With nearly 800 Guides, About.com helps users find solutions to a wide range of daily needs – from parenting, health care and technology to cooking, travel and many others.
What role does sugar play in our diet? Artificial Sweeteners
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has arguably reached epidemic levels in this country; between 22 and 24 million people suffer from the disease. But now there’s an exciting new development: scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have discovered a hormone that might slow or stop the progression of diabetes.
Check to see if your sweetener is natural or artificial and how it affects your blood glucose levels.

Other websites that I reviewed:

Your comments are desired and will be appreciated! Do you have diabetes? Are you pre-diabetic? Do you know someone that is, if so, please send them a link. Please share in the comments, you can remain anonymous if you like!


  1. Pingback: Controlling Type II Diabetes – part 2 | Tim Pettiford's Blog

  2. Yang

    Thank you so much for this post! Both sides of my family have a history of diabetes and that means I have a high risk of having diabetes myself. I am pretty careful with the things that I eat in as early as my early-twenties. I’m also currently following the ketogenic diet, which I believe is really good to control my blood sugar.

    1. Tim Pettiford (Post author)

      YW and take care of yourself!


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