Diabetes, insulin resistance and diet

Very recently I was diagnosed with a syndrom which has insulin resistance as one of the major symptoms. My doctor told me my fasting sugar levels are moderately high and I need to cut down on sugar and carbs.

So, being a good girl, I cut out all of my soda and sweet drinks (a whole heck of a lot. I drink more than I eat.) I have not been the same since. For 3 days I’ve gotten dizzy spells. I was about ready to pass out this morning until I ate something.

I crave sweets now. WTF? How could my body want something that’s so bad for it? What’s the difference between diabetes and insulin resistance? Should I go back to my regular eating habits? I mean I was not passing out when I was happily drinking all those Peach Snapples and Coke.

IANAD, but it sounds like your blood sugar is getting TOO low. My father is a diabetic and gets dizzy and looks like he’s going to pass out when his blood sugar gets too low. I don’t know the difference for sure between diabetes and insulin resistance. My guess is that your body is producing insulin, but not enough of it, so when you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar gets too high. Or maybe the insulin just isn’t as effective, so you can’t handle as much sugar. Diabetes is when your body doesn’t produce insulin at all and you have to take insulin injections (like my dad).

Too high and too low blood sugar are both bad. So going back to your old eating habits isn’t a good idea. High blood sugar doesn’t produce symptoms that are as noticeable as low blood sugar. Your legs or arms might ache for example. Low blood sugar causes dizziness and lethargy.

I’d go back to the doctor if I were you, and tell him/her what’s happening. You probably just have to watch what you eat and space your meals better so that you get enough sugar, but not too much.

c_goat is quite correct that you might be suffering from excessively low blood sugar. Which is a very bad thing and contrary to popular perception is a much more immediate threat for diabetics than high blood sugar ( prolonged periods of high blood sugar cause serious long-term health problems, very low blood sugar causes immediate reactions that in severe cases can be fatal ). But I doubt your blood sugar would crash precipitously to a danger point, just because you cut out sodas and the like. If you are still eating a balanced, normal diet sans sugar-laden snacks you should be just fine.

What you may be experiencing is your body readjusting to a less sugar-saturated environment. In some diabetics this can cause serious malaise up to and including mild dizziness. If you ARE in fact diabetic, your doctor should prescribe a blood-sugar monitor and an appropriate class.

If you are feeling dizzy and eating relieves it - fine. You should definitely do so. If you were having a low-blood sugar event, it is in fact vital that you get your count up quickly with juice or a candy bar. If you were just re-adjusting to a more normal sugar regimen you just need to taper a bit until you’re feeling normal ( unless your blood sugar was seriously out-of-whack, in which case you just may need to live with the discomfort for a little while ).

Needless to say, you should be discussing this with your doctor - dizzy spells may be nothing, or they may not be. Have it checked.

Oh and Type II ( Adult Onset ) Diabetes is almost always caused by the development of insulin resistance. Most people with Type II ( which is most diabetics and includes yours truly ) produce normal amounts of insulin, but their body is resistant to its effects. Generally ( though not universally ) this is correlated with weight and diet. It actually never appears to be fully reversible once it develops. But a majority ( by no means all ) of people that lose weight and get themselves into decent shape can actually control their diabetes by diet alone. Otherwise their are myriad means of getting a handle on things, with insulin injections being the last resort ( these days they are more commonly associated with Type I Diabetes ).

Where the gray line is that separates “insulin resistance” from actual diagnosed “diabetes”, I don’t really know. Grill your doctor ( not a command or dismissal :slight_smile: - Just a good bit of advice - Doctors need to be grilled once in awhile if you want to really understand what’s going on ).

  • Tamerlane

IANAD, but it sounds like what you have is Type 2 diabetes (or are borderline diabetic). (MrRobyn has this form and we got together shortly after it was diagnosed.)

It does take some time to figure out a diet that will keep your glucose within normal range. You didn’t mention medication (like Glucotrol or Glucophage, although other medicines can have an effect on glucose levels), which will also have an effect. My husband ended up visiting a Certified Diabetes Educator and a dietitian to work out a diet that he could live with that would still help his sugar levels. (Even if your insurance doesn’t cover a dietitian, they’re not very expensive, and your doctor can give you a referral.)


There are two kinds of diabetes mellitus. (There is also diabetes inspidus, which is another matter entirely.) Type I is when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, and you have to take insulin shots. This used to be called “juvenile onset,” but that terminology is no longer used as it doesn’t just first occur in children - but it ususally does.

The 2d type, type II, is not caused because your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, but because your cell receptors do not take it up as they should. You are then insulin resistant or glucose intolerant. This is treated, at least initially, with medicine (sulfonylureas or phenformin) to lower your blood glucose. If that doesn’t control you blood glucose, then insulin can be used here too.

The symptoms you describe are caused by too little sugar: hypoglycemia, which is common in diabetics on insulin - when they take too much insulin. That’s why you often see these people with sugar pills handy, or some other sugar source. It sounds like your blood glucose is a little high, but not high enough to be diagnosed as a diabetic. You have been limiting your sugar intake too drastically. Try cutting down a little at a time.

BTW, yes see your doctor. IANAD.

What you need to do is to find out what suits your cravings both physically and mentally. I know becoz I’ve been there and done that multiple times. It’s a struggle but worth it because it will prolong your life, enable you to share the ups and downs of life with those you love etcetcetc. Your goal is to keep your sugar range within a certain level; you want to avoid highs [because of those horrible consequences] and lows [because you could be driving/passout/kill someone with your uncontrolled car].

Here’s what I’ve done.

a. Monitor your blood sugars on a regular basis. Normally, I monitor twice a day, but up to four times when around the holidays or my sugars are higher than acceptable.

b1. See a diabetic dietician; they know all the games you run thru your head plus will give you good advice. Tell the person beforehand that you don’t want all “the scary stories” because

b2. you will also see a diabetes counselor. I do this about every five years because there are new research findings etc. The diabetes counselor will also tell you the symptoms to look for when your sugars are too high or too low.

c. Become an informed shopper; look at labels for sugar content. Try new items [I found Marmite this way] which may give your tastebuds a treat. Also check out some of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sugar cookbooks which use fructose [fruit juice] as a sweetener. Fructose is a more complex compound and takes longer to break down hence no spikey sugar highs.

d. Give yourself some trade-offs [discuss these with your dietician first] such as: I eat a piece of cake and I will walk/run/trot an extra mile one hour later, or I’ll work a bit longer on the bench with my weights.

e. Reward yourself when you’ve had controlled sugar levels for a certain period of time. I like getting a full body massage which I find does lower my sugars…go figure.

I know everyone will tell you that you will feel much better if you “eat right, exercise and cut back on carbs, fat, sugars”. Well, they are right.

You guys are great!

I was in fact diagnosed just 3 days ago and immediatly stopped drinking all those sugar-ladened soft drinks. I called my Dr. and she recommended a dietician. She also said I could be suffering from “withdrawal”. That’s how she put it any way.

So, insulin resistance is just Type II diabetes only not so? (Doctor says fasting sugar of 120 is diabetes. My fasting sugar was 110.)

So I cut out all the sugar(almost chocochip cookies kill me :slight_smile: At first it was hard on me but then it got alot easier- I never bring sweets in my house- if the temptaion is not there I do ok (out of sight out of mind) I have dropped 80 lbs since July. Tyring to explain this life style change to people is hard though- I hate it when i am eating a bunless hamburger and drinking water and people say thats why you can’t lose weight- when they know nothing about me or mt medicals history. I wish you well with your health- take care of yourself :slight_smile:

Like everyone else has said, talk to your doctor and nutritionist. But, what might help in the meantime (it helps me with hypoglycemia) is to eat protein with every meal and snack. Protein is digested slower and maintains a more even blood glucose level than carbohydrates do. (My trick for sodas, because I need to avoid sugared drinks and can’t stand diet stuff - I mix one part regular soda or unsweetened fruit juice with 4 parts club soda. It’s not nearly as sweet, but as long as there’s fizz, I’m happy.)

Hey Tiff, me too. Only PCOS causes the resistance not the other way around.

I’ve got every single other symptom of the syndrome. I don’t know why it took 20 years! before someone in the medical profession figured it out. A good doctor is a gift from the Pink Unicorn!

Biggirl: 110 is not bad. Diabetics typically shoot for the 80-120 ‘resting’ range ( non-diabetics will range even lower ) as a good maintainence area. To give you an example, when I was admitted to a hospital ( for an unrelated condition ) and was first diagnosed with Diabetes my blood sugar was raging out of control at about 400. Very bad. And probably partly attributable to my illness ( diabetics need to be extra careful when the get ill, because the blood sugar will spike ). When they released me a few days later on medication and my blood sugar at about 200, I was told if I was not consistently down below 120 within a couple of days I should call to be re-checked. I was and I’ve pretty much been fine ever since ( I’m at 112 as we speak :wink: ). But I likely wasn’t diabetic for very long ( may in fact have been pre-diabetic and the illness pushed me over the edge - that does happen sometimes ) as I had no “withdrawal” symptoms at all after cutting the sugar. But I’ve met plenty who did suffer through them.

I do believe non-diabetics generally run rather lower than 110 ( which is high-normal ) ‘at rest’ ( i.e. a few hours after a meal ), so you’re probably “pre-diabetic”. Which may ultimately mean nothing if you take care of yourself. Or it may be that you will ultimately develop diabetes, but that you can postpone it a good while by watching your diet and health. Or ( not to be negative, but it is a small possibility ) it could mean you are on the path to eventual full-blown diabetes no matter what you do.

But at the very least it sounds like that right now your body is just adjusting to not being so sugar-saturated. Which is uncomfortable, but not a real threat. You probably just need to taper the sugar cut-off a bit ( if you doctor agrees of course :wink: ). Be well :slight_smile: .

  • Tamerlane

Hmmm…I just noted that my current blood sugar number and my number of posts were exactly the same on that last post. Does that mean that if I continue to post my blood sugar will inevitably rise to match it until I die a horrible death as my capillaries all dissolve away and I drown in my own body fluids? What an awful dilemma :stuck_out_tongue: .

Okay - Better go check to see if my blood sugar is up to 113 now :wink: .

  • Tamerlane

you should join a low carb listserve- I was a member of 2 (one being the texas lowcarb listserve (and you don’t have to be from texas))
Do a search. This is a common topic - at least several years ago. The lists were very active - too active for me so i de-listed. You will have to search for them as I no longer have the links

Also Dr. Atkins has a site worth looking at. http://www.atkinsdiet.com

Your doctor was either over-generalizing or is wrong. Diabetes needs to be diagnosed a bit more carefully than that, I’m afraid, esp. Type 2 like you seem to have.

Some good stuff here, I will just add one thing to reinforce the low-carb aspect for great control of diabetes.

I’ve been a Type 1 (the bad kind) for 19 years. Here is my advice. Do things slowly. Being type 2, you can do that. Make gradual changes in diet, not fast ones.

Do not ignore the effect of carbs. Esp. foods with a very high glycemic index, like rice, pasta, breads. Since I have to supply all of my insulin via injection, I can see the profound impact foods like white rice have on insulin requirements. Here is an example:

Chinese meal - vegetables, chicken, rice. Total calories - 700. Rice makes up 400 of that. For this, I must take 22 units of Humalog insulin.

Now…same meal, much more vegies and chicken, but no rice. Total calories - 550. For this, I must only take 8 units of Humalog insulin.

So I reduce my calories by 21%, but reduce my insulin by 64%. A pretty large effect.

It’s actually pretty easy to start reducing these things. Rice and pasta - get rid of them. Eat much less breads and grains. Cut down the sugar pop, gradually. Eat more meats, veggies, cheese products - skim milk too.

Since it seems you may be right on the borderline, you should be able to easily control this well with practically no serious lifestyle changes. Unlike taking 4 shots a day, like me. :frowning:

IAMAMD & I am a diabetic. Lots of good advice above. My (over)educated 2 cents: Ask to have your Hemoglobin A1C checked, it measures a sort of “average” of your blood sugar, over the last two or three months, not just your momentary blood sugar, which can change in 3 minutes. Also, Aerobic exercise daily, 20 to 30 minutes (I try to do it daily, that way I generally do it 5 days a week). Also, change your diet. Hi fiber, lower carbs are often appropriate changes to make after consulting a doc & dietician. Also, check your glucose. A lot.

Good luck, and welcome to the club

“The best way to live long is to get a chronic disease and take care of it”
Sir William Osler, MD

Tiff and Biggirl

I have PCOS and am insulin resistant (spelling?)

I am now on a VERY low carb, high protein diet and it has made a world of difference. I am sort of following the Atkins diet, but I don’t like a lot of the high fat foods.
I know I have lost at least 7 or 8 pounds, but since I am a recovering bulimic (what else, huh?) I’m not too sure.

However, TALK TO A REGISTERED DIETICIAN and your doctor before you go on ANY kind of diet. When you cut your carbs, you are also cutting out some important vitamins and minerals so you need to make sure you take supplements.

I actually don’t even look at the sugar content. I go by the carbs per serving, but that’s how my body works. Check out the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet Book, it has some ok recipes.

Good luck, it gets better. After a week or so I found I had no problem eating bunless burgers and plain peanut butter. Sounds weird but it seems to work.

email me if you want to talk more about this. Oh, I almost forgot, there is a ‘Cyster’ group on the SDMB. I’ll try to find the thread and link it for you.