Dr. Westman discusses diabetes management while you are staying at home and social distancing/isolating. During the COVID19 epidemic, many areas are under lockdown and quarantine, which undoubtedly affects our normal routines and most importantly our dietary patterns. If you’re diabetic, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of during these difficult times.
We’re eating differently
Think about diabetes management under COVID19 social distancing regulations as you would a sick day, in which case, the traditional teaching is to lower the amount of medication you take. If you’re taking insulin for example, and you’re not eating as much, you would lower the insulin, that’s called a sick day. Dr. Westman admits, “There are some things that are happening that I didn’t really anticipate, I am taking telephone calls and talking to people at home. What’s happening is when people are staying at home, they’re eating differently.”
People aren’t eating as many restaurant foods or fast food as they normally would. If you think about it, you’re probably eating less, unless you’re eating due to the stress you may be under during this time. If you are eating less, you’ll have to be careful with the medications because they need to be adjusted according to what you eat.
Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar
Remember, because diabetes medications are used to lower your blood sugar, if the blood sugar is too low, then you’re taking too much medicine. Your blood sugar won’t go too low if you’re not taking medicines, you may not have been told that or perhaps you’ve been on medication for so long that you don’t remember, but it’s not normal to have low blood sugar, your medications are the cause of that.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Westman has encouraged his patients to contact him via the telephone. He’s noticed a pattern where many of his patients’ blood sugars seem to be lower during this time. As his patients, they’ve been taught to check their blood sugar regularly and to be very careful if their blood sugar goes down. If that does happen, they know to inform him about it so that he can best advise on the reduction of the medication.
Adjust your diabetes medications according to the food you eat
This may not make much sense, you may have been taught the traditional way of simply eating more or having some sugar or a little juice to get your blood sugar back to normal. Diabetes medications are adjusted to the food that you eat. If you change the food you eat, you have to logically change the medications.
There are 2 Ways you can address a low blood sugar or hypoglycemia:
Eat some carbs or maybe even just eat more carbs over the course of the day, if not just to rescue you at that moment.
Address the blood sugars that are going down and frequently reduce the medication, this is the preferred approach.
If you’re on a keto diet or supervised diet or medication program, or even after weight loss surgery, and you’re changing your lifestyle and seeing your blood sugars going down, then Dr. Westman advises that you reduce the medication, rather than to just eating more carbs.
It goes against the traditional teaching of diabetes management, but with this approach, people with type 2 diabetes will be able to come off of all medicines. You’ll also be able to lose the excess weight which is ultimately the cause of your diabetes, so you’ll no longer have diabetes. “If that intrigues you and you didn’t know that you don’t have to have diabetes forever, watch some of my other videos where I go into detail that not everyone has to have diabetes,” says Dr. Westman. You can actually cure type 2 diabetes. This is not the case for type 1 diabetes, however, if you’re a type 1 diabetic and you decide to start on a keto diet program, you’ll need much less insulin.
What to do if you’re experiencing low blood sugar
Think carefully about whether you’ve been changing the way you eat while you’re staying at home. Are you eating fewer carbs? If so, then you need fewer medications, because the carbs raise the blood sugar, which means that you’ll need more medicine to lower the blood sugar. If you’re experiencing low blood sugars, call your doctor and ask him/her how to reduce your medication, because you’re using too much. This is also something you can do if you’re starting a low-carb or keto diet with diabetes medications.
There are a lot of free resources, including Adapt Your Life and dietdoctor.com, take advantage of those resources to learn as much as you can. Stay safe during this period and if your blood sugars are not being controlled, especially if they’re too low, please consult with your doctor.