By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC
Today’s column deals with Type 2 Diabetes, AGAIN. Because of the large Hispanic population here, and the propensity of this disease in this population, this topic bears repeating. I find that I give the same “sermon” day in and day out to my diabetic patients, who always act like this is the first time they have heard the information I am giving them. Usually, it is only when the patient actually experiences one of the serious effects resulting from uncontrolled diabetes that they really start to listen.
One of the problems with being a compliant patient in Van Horn is the lack of decent, affordable produce. A box of Ramen is much more affordable than vegetables. Then there is the issue with the traditional Mexican food menu, which is extremely high in carbohydrates, the real culprit in raising blood sugar. Patients will always deny eating sweets or sugar, but upon questioning, they act surprised when I tell them that carbs “turn to sugar” and are just as bad.
As an easy reference, I always tell patients to avoid white foods—sugar, tortillas, potatoes, rice, and pastas. I usually get an argument at this point, because of course that leaves nothing that they can eat. Then the questions begin, “Can I eat corn tortillas?” So I ask them what hogs are given to fatten them up. Some of the patients self-righteously claim that they only eat wheat tortillas, until I remind them that they are still carbs, and the only difference is that the regular tortillas are made from bleached flour, while the wheat ones are not bleached.
Many of the uncontrolled diabetic patients are in denial that diet plays an important part in their blood sugar levels. They go merrily along their way, eating and drinking whatever they want, thinking that as long as they take their diabetes medication, they will be fine. It is only when they have exhausted every oral medication and I break it to them that insulin is the next step, that they begin to pay attention, but it is usually too late by that time.
As a reminder, uncontrolled diabetes can affect eyesight, kidney function which can ultimately lead to dialysis, heart disease, circulation, sensation in the upper and lower extremities, which can lead to non-healing lesions and amputation, erectile dysfunction, frequent urinary tract infections, skin infections such as boils, dental problems, to name a few.
If it sounds like I’m trying to scare diabetics, I am…but only because I want to see them avoid the ravages of the disease. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this disease and how to control it.