IT’S The diet police!

BY Dr. Sanjiva Wijesinha

A patient of mine was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Instead of immediately prescribing medication, I opted for a different method based on the premise that he is the patient and it’s his responsibility to control the disease.

I explained that diabetes is simply a matter of imbalance where the body is unable to balance the quantity of sugar (glucose) consumed with what it needs. If more than what’s required is taken in, then the excess spills over into the bloodstream and all the organs where it starts causing damage.

So without simply writing a prescription for him, I checked his weight, waistline and blood pressure, and suggested that he comes back the following week with his wife. He was asked to maintain a food diary during the week, and note everything he eats and drinks; test his blood sugar every morning using a glucometer; and take a brisk walk for 45-60 minutes every day.

When he returned 10 days later with his wife – along with a record of his food and beverage consumption, as well as blood sugar readings – it was easy to show him how his high blood sugar related to the type of food he ate.

Even though he had not been able to walk every day, it was evident how the glucose readings were lower on the days after he had exercised.

The next step was to provide some tips on how to select food types and the best times to consume them so they wouldn’t increase his blood sugar excessively.

He was also encouraged to continue walking as often as he could and given a referral to a dietician for advice. Meanwhile, I prescribed a small dose of metformin to be taken daily with his evening meal.

His wife’s presence was important because while it was his responsibility to manage his diabetes, it was best to enlist the support of his spouse in this process.

When I saw him again after a month with his updated records of sugar readings and the food diary, the results on the whole were good. When he repeated his blood tests two months later, it appeared that the measures taken to control the diabetes had yielded excellent results.

I commended him for his efforts and asked him how he had managed to be so disciplined.  “It’s not all my effort,” he admitted.

My patient conceded: “My wife should be given all the credit for this. After you involved her in managing my diabetes, she watches what I eat like a hawk and makes sure I find the time to exercise. When we go out to dinner, she always serves me before serving herself.”

“Everyone tells me that I’m very lucky that she serves me first; but I know that she does it to ensure that I don’t eat what I shouldn’t. If I occasionally try to serve myself a large helping of ice cream, she doesn’t say anything… but simply gives me a look! So I serve myself some fruit instead. I call her the ‘diet police’ – and it’s because of her that I’ve been able to manage my blood sugar so well,” he explained.

Then he smiled and said: “You know doc, wives are very useful people… even if we don’t always like to admit it!”