Tuesday, July 10, 2012

System Reboot

For a diabetic, fasting can be a four letter word. If you have insulin on board then you'd better be eating consistent meals or you will crash hard. But in my endless experiments I conduct on myself, I have found that there is a place for fasting within my own diabetic world.

I use fasting as a reboot. When insulin needs are skyrocketing and blood sugars are flying high, then low, then higher. And when I have gotten so off routine that a simple turn in the right direction isn't going to get me back to normal fast enough. In that case (i.e. after every vacation I take), fasting works wonders in realigning me on my path to diabetes gold.

Of course, the five day juice fast/detox I so long to be able to do (though I probably lack the will power for anyway) is out of the question. My fasting style--what I call an Easy Fast--is a little different. I eat breakfast--a fiber and protein packed breakfast. And then for the rest of that day, I exist completely on water with lemon and decaf tea (the act of abstaining from all that is flavorful would likely end in my mental demise, so herbal tea is a must to get me through the day). I don't exercise and I don't over exert myself. The next morning, after a full 24 hours without food, I eat breakfast as usual and jump back into my strict, normal routine. (Yes, I was fasting yesterday after my fun-filled trip to Montana over the holiday weekend. And yes, that may have had something to do with the rage.)

I find this kind of fast does two things for me. One, it gives my gut a break. As a person who eats variations of the same meals just about every day, any step off track often leaves me suffering from Angry Intestines. After a few days on this foreign diet, I am usually feeling it in my energy levels as well. And it's not just the food itself, it's the amount I eat of it (what can I say, my mind and body firmly believe that VACATION means it's time to make up for all the months of strict portion control and general military style routine). A fast is the perfect respite for my overworked stomach.

And two, it gives my pancreas a break. I'm not sure how much insulin my body still produces, but I know for a fact that when I abuse my body by upping my portions and doing more sitting than standing, my insulin needs go way up. It's like my pancreas only has so much to give at any given moment and if it can't keep up with demand than it throws its hands up and walks out. But on a fast day, it's my pancreas that gets the vacation. Once breakfast is digested, it has twenty-four hours to kick back and relax. After a fast day, I find my insulin needs drop much quicker than if I just try to get back on my normal routine and wait it out.

Of course--and this should really go without saying because you should question everything anyone tells you, especially about managing YOUR diabetes--this is what works for ME. If you are going to try it there are two things to keep in mind: Check your blood sugar frequently; And if it drops, eat something! As all diabetics know, making compromises to fit your needs at any given time is the only way to stay healthy.

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