Bright Spots and Landmines
Bright Spots & Landmines is a self-help book and a diabetes guide in one. It’s free to download, and it’s a good read. I finished it in a very positive mood, which I think is the aim of the book. In four chapters, it deals with food, mindset, exercise, and sleep. Why sleep, you’re asking. Well, too little sleep can increase cortisol levels, which contribute to insulin resistance and higher blood sugar. After reading Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep, I’m convinced that you can blame everything that’s wrong with humanity on a lack of sleep.
In addition to sleep, exercise is important to diabetics. Walking doesn’t only lift your spirit, but it lowers blood glucose. According to data from over 60,000 sessions in Diabetes Hands Foundation’s Big Blue test program, fourteen minutes of walking dropped blood glucose by an impressive 30 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/l). In other words, it can replace insulin correction doses after eating.
My favorite part of the book was the food section. The author, Adam Brown, says that the biggest problem was the advice he got on diagnosis: “You can eat whatever you want, as long as you take insulin for it”. It translated into blood glucose swings with many highs and lows. No one warned him that 92 grams of carbs at once is a huge glucose load in a condition with one big challenge: an inability to deal with high glucose levels.
Now he never has more than 30 grams of carbs at the time. He also recommends pre-bolusing insulin by 20 minutes, having a breakfast high in protein and fat, eating slowly, and stopping before you’re 100 percent full. All these things make sense. He says if you want to change just one meal and go low-carb, pick breakfast. A lot of us diabetics struggle with this one. Adam recommends eating eggs or chia-seed pudding for a good start to the day.
There’s some motivational talk, that while not strictly diabetes-related, is interesting in terms of life-management. I’m now thinking about signing up for Stickk and Tiny Habits to see if they will make me a more accomplished human being. Most of all, I like how Adam points out that you can’t always win with diabetes. Forty-two factors affect blood glucose and they can be anything. Food had more carbs than you guessed, the meter reading was wrong, or you didn’t sleep well last night. Perfection for insulin users at our current level of technology is nearly impossible, and it’s nice to get reminded sometimes.
The premise of the book is to identify what works and do those things more often while avoiding those that don’t work. In other words, embrace the bright spots and watch out for the landmines while staying positive about your diabetes.