Among the myriad of downsides to having T1 diabetes, could it be possible that there are some upsides? Getting past the bitterness, anger, and confusion that comes along with a T1 diagnoses is difficult, but after wrestling with the aftermath of my own diagnosis for almost 14 years, I’ve come to see three upsides.
- A window into how your body is doing. I’ve talked about this topic several times yet I constantly marvel at the amount of information I can pull out of my simple, cheap glucometer. Did I have a crappy night’s sleep?, am I coming down with some sort of infection?, Am I overtrained?, Is my body inflamed?, Am I overly stressed or anxious?, am I eating too much or too little of some macro-nutrient? Our little glucometers can’t provide definitive answers to these questions, but it can help point us in new directions or give us actionable guidance if we are up for a little self experimentation.
- T1 provides more incentive to eat better. I discovered years ago that eating pizza puts my blood sugar on a roller coaster. I could, of course, just continue to eat pizza, but knowing what I’ll be battling over the next several hours makes this practice inconvenient not to mention makes me feel bloated and lethargic. So, having T1 has altered my eating for the better. I now eat mostly vegetables and fruits along with some healthy meats, cheese, and nuts.
- I can easily gauge my own insulin sensitivity without fancy blood tests. Doctors told me years ago after diagnosis that I could expect my insulin requirements to go up over time as my disease progressed. We now know that T1’s can develop T2 by eating the standard american processed food diet devoid of nutrition for long enough. By simply observing the insulin dose required to keep my BG levels normal, I can easily see if my body needs more or less than it once did. Over the years, my insulin requirements have actually fallen slightly. I have been able to keep my cells sensitive to insulin over the years. Medical researchers have started to look at Cancer as a metabolic disorder showing high insulin levels to be correlated with an elevated risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. As a T1, I can set my insulin levels to a healthy level and eat appropriately. This takes the guess-work out of wondering how high my insulin levels are. I also believe that all of us should strive to maintain lower insulin levels for better health and longevity.
I hope this information wasn’t redundant. When T1 gets really aggravating, I try to focus on the good parts. The parts that have altered my health for the better.