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Diabetes medication - can you eat anything?

elljayelljay Forumite
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I'm sure you can't but I don't really know that much about it.  I was talking to someone the other day whose husband has type 2 diabetes and she says he can now eat anything he likes as long as he takes his medication.  He's a big pie lover and hugely overweight.  I've heard other people say the same.  I didn't know how to counter argue as I don't know much about it but I'm sure it isn't right.  She said he doesn't mind taking medication for the rest of his life as long as he can eat what he likes.

Is this the case?  If so, how is it that we're warned about heart failure, amputations and so on if the medication is so effective.  Any ideas for talking to her about it would be appreciated.  Thanks
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  • edited 17 May at 1:23PM
    annabanana82annabanana82 Forumite
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    edited 17 May at 1:23PM
    No it isn't the case, my Mum is diabetic and has always said the worst advice she was given was that she can eat what she likes in moderation, she has battled with a sweet tooth all her life, had she of been given a harder line over the sugar she feels she'd have been more disciplined for longer.
    As is, she is losing her sight, she has now pretty much cut sugar out of her diet and so far her eyesight is stable but the Drs don't think it'll stay that way.
    My Grandad lost his leg to diabetes and his diet and exercise couldn't really be faulted, I don't think the consequences of being diabetic can be overestimated. 

    The people that think they can carry on as normal are only lying to themselves and are due a very rude awakening in future. My Husband has heart failure and it's always said that lifestyle is primary prevention medication secondary, I imagine that would be the case for many "lifestyle" illnesses 
  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    We all have different thresholds for what we 'can' eat, and few people have a totally healthy diet. 
    But, well, I would be upset if anyone I loved had put the threshold where he seems to have - though trying to be accepting of people's right to make their own decisions.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • maisie_catmaisie_cat Forumite
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    I've been there with FIL and his wife, it nearly caused a family falling out when I tried to suggest that eating pies and cake most days was not the best. They are of the age that were children when we still had rationing in this country and I'm sure that has some impact on being able to make food decisions even if it is unhealthy.
    They constantly complain about diabetes services where they live but they will not take medical advice. 


  • elljayelljay Forumite
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    Mojisola said:
    If he doesn't change his diet, the medication will have to be increased and then other ones added in.  Any of these can cause side-effects as well as eventually becoming ineffective. 

    Ah thank you, this is good concrete information.  From what I can gather he doesn't bother with monitoring it himself nor read up about it.  He does attend checkups and tells her everything is fine.  They don't seem to have the most communicative of marriages and she does tend to go along with what he says though she has done some reading herself, but he won't be told by anyone other than the doctor.  I don't think he would mind if his med was increased, he seems to think a long as it controls his blood sugar then where's the problem.

    The other thing is that he says that as he doesn't eat many sweet things then he's ok but I'm sure I remember from O level biology that sugar and carbohydrates are one and the same thing.  Thanks
  • keepcalmandstayoutofdebtkeepcalmandstayoutofdebt Forumite
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    Jam and bananas are banned from mine. When I was pre-diabetic, I was given a typed list of the good and bad stuff.
    There was meant to be an educational course but it got cancelled due to Covid and I think the local town informal group meets up have gone too.
    At the 2nd diabetic appointment, they broached weight loss medication, which has just yo-yo'd in 18 months since diabetes was confirmed, I have been left to it, I did try a pen injection which is pretty much of the nhs radar but that only stopped the appetite, I am getting concerned about the weight as it has now stopped my lady monthlies (I do personally think it is the menopause earlyish kicking in) and I just don't like being this way.
    Whilst I live in fear of a heart attack and wouldn't want to be around much after my parents go, I quickly was offered statins alongside the metformin but I decided against.
    I remember as a child when my grandmother (who lost her sight due to t2) would have a cheat day, she would certainly pay and be sick.
    Being sick doesn't happen to me, my 'diabetic' foot does flare up. Couple of instances where I've felt spaced out but I've always felt it was where sugar was to low.
    I did see an article in the lead up to be diagnosed about living half a life of someone non diabetic.

    Re Joined Slimming Word in group 02/06/21   ..   Want to lose every week! 5.5 lbs gone to date

  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    elljay said:
    The other thing is that he says that as he doesn't eat many sweet things then he's ok but I'm sure I remember from O level biology that sugar and carbohydrates are one and the same thing. 
    The body turns carbs into sugar.
    For some reason, the NHS still recommends regular intake of carbs throughout the day so he may be getting told that his diet is okay.
    It's only by testing that we can work out how many and what type of carbs we can eat while keeping blood sugars within the limits.  It's surprising how some foods can spike one person's readings and have practically no effect on someone else.
  • elljayelljay Forumite
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    Thanks for all this helpful information.  So from what I can gather the medication only partly controls blood sugar levels, not completely.   He certainly doesn't seem to be living half a life, he's just carrying on as before, the only difference being that he takes medication.  Doesn't seem to get ill.  I'd be worried like mad (and nagging like anything I suppose!!!) if he was my husband.
  • PterionPterionPterionPterion Forumite
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    elljay said:
    Thanks for all this helpful information.  So from what I can gather the medication only partly controls blood sugar levels, not completely.   He certainly doesn't seem to be living half a life, he's just carrying on as before, the only difference being that he takes medication.  Doesn't seem to get ill.  I'd be worried like mad (and nagging like anything I suppose!!!) if he was my husband.
    Depending on the type of medication the aim is to maintain an acceptable level. In some instances medication alone can provide adequate control but in an unhealthy lifestyle this is overwhelmed. It eventually becomes akin to fighting a fire with a spoon of water. Like another comment mentioned eventually medications are added, doses altered, side effects and interactions occur and by this point irreversible damage will have already occurred at a cellular level. 

    The problem with conditions like diabetes is the symptoms can take a long time to manifest. For example 'background retinopathy- such small subtle bleeds in the eyes are not symptomatic and a low concern.
    Visual problems and blindness will only become problematic after significant damage has already occurred at which point reversing this is difficult and in many cases not possible. 
  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    There's a reason diet is the first 'treatment' they try, before medication if necessary.

    For type 1 diabetes people can eat pretty much whatever they like (within reason, like the rest of the otherwise healthy population) as long as they titrate their insulin to match.  Medication for type 2 diabetes is not that specific!

    My Dad monitors his blood sugar levels as well as taking a couple of medications for diabetes and it's clear that certain foods have a pronounced effect, so diet certainly is still key to managing blood sugar levels.  It is true that individual foods affect people differently.
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