Resolutions with a twist – by Andy Broomhead

Andy-Broomhead-266x266Hello and happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when people are into that second week of trying to make New Year’s resolutions stick.  I always think the second week is the hardest.  You have motivation for the first week, but the second requires effort and determination.  But after that, you’ve got momentum.  Conquer the second week and you’ll be well on your way.

It’d be easy to talk about diabetes resolutions here (testing more often, reducing our HbA1c, changing our lancets more often…), but instead I wanted to focus on how diabetes can affect our ability to meet other resolutions we’ve made – in particular one which I think most people will identify with.

If you’re anything like me, you probably added a few pounds over the Christmas period.  Research suggests that whilst most people normally consume on average between 1500-2500 calories per day, that can increase to between 7000-10,000 on Christmas Day alone.  Many of us have probably noticed the side effects of that indulgence.

So we’ve come into 2016 with the goal of losing weight which is a great thing to aspire to, but notoriously hard to achieve.  And as with most things, I think having diabetes makes that a little harder than it otherwise could be.  The basic science of losing weight is quite straightforward – expend more calories than you consume and you lose weight (a reduction of 3,500 calories per week equates to about a pound of weight).  It should follow that being more meticulous with our calorie intake leads to weight loss.  (Note – I appreciate it is largely a lot more complex than this in real life).

And this is where I think diabetes has us at a disadvantage.  It’s almost inevitable that at some point we’re going to end up consuming empty calories to treat a hypo – and in our case, they’re probably doubly empty.  It’s food we don’t want to eat, but have to, and secondly the makeup of that food being some form of fast acting sugar offers us no nutritional benefit whatsoever.

As I’m certainly trying to lose some weight, it got me thinking about what’s the most calorie efficient way to treat a hypo?

There’s a few contenders, namely Dextro tablets, jelly babies, coke or orange juice (other treatments are available).

Let’s assume we’re looking for 15g of carbs to treat a hypo (again, it could be more for some people) – which is the best treatment to choose if we’re looking to maintain a lower calorie intake?

The answer may surprise you, though there’s not much in it.

The worst (in terms of calories) is orange juice which has the most calories per 15g of carbs with 72.  Next comes Jelly Babies with 63 calories per 15g of carbs.  In second place is Dextro Tablets with 61 calories and finally (and possibly surprisingly) is Coke with 59 calories per 15g of carbs.

Of course, things are different for all of us, and we should also think about what foods we eat after treating a hypo as it can be very easy to eat lots to try and get rid of that hypo feeling (which is where we’re more likely to consume significantly more calories – biscuits are my personal nemesis in these situations).

Hopefully you all enjoy a wonderful 2016 and that you manage to keep to your resolutions (diabetes related or otherwise).

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