All About Diabetes – Sugar & Sugar Free
The spookiest time of year is upon us. Hallowe’en is here and soon the streets will be full of little goblins out for sweets and candy. However, for many diabetic kids and adults, Hallowe’en is more complicated than figuring out a costume.
Diabetes in a Nutshell
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 is sometimes called juvenile diabetes as it generally first appears during childhood. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition involving a pancreas that produces little or no insulin. Insulin is what the body needs to allow sugar into cells to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes is usually triggered by genes or exposure to certain viruses during childhood or adolescence. It is possible for type 1 diabetes to begin during adulthood. The condition cannot be cured or reversed.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common version of diabetes. It generally occurs in adults who are overweight or obese. In recent years type 2 diabetes has started to appear in children suffering from childhood obesity. Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes create enough insulin but their body their bodies are unable to use it all up and the become insulin resistant. Sugar will then begin to build up in their bloodstream. The condition is reversible.
Sugar or Sugar Free?
Many people believe that too much sugar causes diabetes. This is actually a misnomer. In fact, sugar has nothing to do with type 1 diabetes. However, obesity is a major cause of diabetes and obesity is frequently caused by an excessive consumption of sugar so there is a tenuous link between type 2 diabetes and sugar. It is actually an excessive consumption of all carbohydrates that can lead to type 2 diabetes. This means that people with both types of diabetes can eat sugar but in careful moderation.
Type 1 Diabetes & Sugar
Type 1 diabetes is a very manageable condition, especially if blood sugar levels are regularly monitored and insulin is administered. Keeping a close eye on diet and how certain foods affect blood sugar are keys to managing type 1 diabetes. The important thing to keep track of is carbohydrates and not sugar. Carbs will raise blood sugar levels faster than any other food group. Each person will be affected differently so it is up to an individual to track and know what their carbohydrate limit is. There are a number of apps available which can be helpful for tracking carbohydrate intake and the impact it has on blood sugar levels. Sugar free doesn’t mean carbohydrate free; a person with type 1 diabetes always needs to check labelling for carb levels. In fact, foods that contain low-calorie or artificial sweeteners will often have fewer calories than sugar free foods.
Type 2 Diabetes & Sugar
Following a strict and healthy diet is crucial for people with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is reversible and can be achieved through a balanced healthy diet. As mentioned, there is a slight link between sugar and type 2 diabetes. It is possible for blood sugar levels to dip too low in people with both forms of diabetes but people with type 2 will start off contending with high levels that they need to bring down. People with type 2 diabetes don’t need to avoid carbs or sugary foods altogether but they should be limited. Processed foods, high fat dairy and red meat should be avoided or eaten in extreme moderation. A person trying to reverse type 2 diabetes should up their intake of leafy green vegetables, beans and legumes. Fruit can be very sugary so high sugar fruits like oranges, grapes and pineapples should be cut out.
People with both forms of diabetes often benefit from eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than three big set meals. Blood sugar levels can dip easily and quickly in people following strict diets which is why eating a small amount regularly helps keep things in check.
If you or one of your kids is diabetic, don’t feel like you can’t enjoy some trick or treating candy. As long as you are keeping an eye on blood sugar levels and eating a healthy diet, some sugary candy is ok on Hallowe’en!
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