DIABETIC PUB
YOUR BODY'S LEARNING CURVES: The Adjustment Period  
 
When we begin to manage our diabetes, our bodies must travel along two learning curves. Bodies must: 1) learn to burn fat instead of loads of carbohydrate, and 2) get re-accustomed to normal glucose levels.  
 
Frankly, these “lessons” can cause real discomfort. Common symptoms include light-headedness, queasiness and fatigue.  
 
The Good News? The symptoms are temporary – if you stay on the path. Better still, you'll avoid complications. You may even see existing complications dwindle or disappear. Even more, once your body's “graduated” and has learned to thrive on very few carbs and more fat, you'll probably feel much, much better than you have in a long time!  
 
Carbohydrate “withdrawal.” Also known as “Atkins Flu,” symptoms may last 4 days to 2 weeks. Your body may think it's starving (and feel like it, too), but it's actually “learning” to use new fuels.  
 
Re-learning normal. Normal glucose levels may take several weeks to achieve. As your body re-learns what normal glucose levels are like, it may panic. For example, it may react to any level below 11.1 mmol/l or 200 mg/dl  (or whatever your average level is) as if you were in full-fledged hypoglycemic free-fall (a bad “low”). This is not a low. Not at all. This reaction is called a “false low.” It, too, is temporary, and may last a few weeks.
NOTE: How low is too low? Real lows do not occur until around 70 or so. Below that, diabetics vary. Even at 70, most of us find that a good low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) meal does the trick. Glucose (in the form of tabs/syrups or regular candy) is generally a necessity in the 50s or below. Keep glucose handy, but never use it for normal or high glucose levels.  
 
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease the pain of learning.  
 
What to Do?  
 
• Make sure you get enough to eat! A natural reaction to a diabetic diagnosis, or during the first days of control, is to avoid eating anything. Ironically, this can lead to a glucose spike, because your liver may assume you 're starving. It will “rescue” you by dumping lots and lots of glucose into your system. Since your liver is not a brain, it won't know when to stop. Besides, nagging hunger is the last thing you need to be feeling right now.
• Keep hot broth and/or low-carb, high-fat snacks with you at all times. String cheese is great, because it does not need constant refrigeration. Nuts are good, too (but watch out for peanuts and cashews – they tend to be “carbier” than other nuts). Also, you may want to try hard-boiled eggs, cold cuts, or cheese.  
 
• Visit The Pub to vent and get support!  
 
What Not to Do?  
 
• Do not count calories while your body adjusts. Your body's going though diabetic boot camp already! Also, weight loss by itself does not reduce glucose levels. Fortunately, a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) tends to promote weight loss by itself. If weight concerns are ongoing, calorie reduction can most safely begin after you've achieved normal glucose levels, and start feeling normal again.  
 
• Do not turn to glucose tabs/syrup or candies to “treat” a false low. They'll spike you. See above for LCHF snack ideas.  
 
• Do not return to starchy, non-sweet foods because they seem to make you “feel better.” Most likely, they'll only make you feel like your pre-diagnosis diabetic self. You'll be surprised how much better you can feel with normal numbers! Most important, a return to starchy “comfort” will cause your diabetes to progress, which leads to complications and worse.