The cure for diabetes: McDonalds?
May 8, 2012 6:56 AM   Subscribe

What is the possible explanation for a type 2 diabetic eating 237 grams of carbs in a meal and not seeing any significant spike in blood sugar?

I was diagnosed type 2 about a year ago. I chose to try to manage it with diet and exercise instead of taking medication, against my doctor's wishes. It's been difficult, but it has also been working. I'm at the gym six days a week, I rarely eat more than 35 grams of carbs at one time, and that has allowed me to get to the point where my glucose readings are almost always below 140mg/dL after eating, and in the 90-110 range the rest of the time. My a1c at diagnosis was 8.8. The last two checks have been 5.5.

Today I realized that I hadn't eaten a single gluttonous meal since my diagnosis a year ago. I talked myself into an experiment of eating a typical pre-diagnosis meal just to see how high it would spike my blood sugar. Big Mac, medium fries, medium Coke, and small chocolate shake. Ok, that's slightly smaller than my previously usual super sized meals, but still 237 grams of carbs, which is ridiculous for a diabetic who is not taking any kind of medication to control her blood sugar. I was expecting to see dangerously high glucose levels. But instead there was... nothing. 127 at 1 hour. 131 at 1.5 hours. 103 at two hours. A slight spike to 130 at 2.5 hours. Then 110 at 3 hours, and dropping after that.

I even went out and bought a new glucose meter and test strips after my two hour reading, because I was sure my meter was broken. But both meters give nearly identical readings.

What in the world can explain this? Sometimes I'll allow myself a burger, but I skip the fries, never ever drink real Coke, and don't even consider a milkshake. Those are the times when my readings go over 140. I'm completely stumped trying to understand what happened today.

The obvious answer is to talk to my doctor about it, but really he just always wants to medicate me, his standards for controlling my glucose levels are much more lenient than my own, and I just haven't gotten around to finding a better doctor yet. He runs he blood tests, says what he wants to say, prescribes what he wants to prescribe, and then I examine the blood test results myself to guide my own treatment. So until I find a better doctor I'm hoping someone might be able to suggest some ideas that might explain what happened today. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
i am not a doctor. my understanding of blood sugars is that the better they are controlled, the better they can handle sugar in general. so if you have been keeping your blood sugars normal by eating really well and exercise, your body is at a higher level of fitness and can handle the occasional massive influx of sugars much better.

you can eat poorly once in a while just not frequently! so don't start doing that experiment all the time because the result will definitely be blood sugars which are much too high.

good for you for taking such good care of yourself!
posted by saraindc at 7:06 AM on May 8, 2012

Type 2 Diabetes can be reversible. Have you lost a lot of weight since your diagnosis?
posted by missmagenta at 7:10 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The metabolism is not mechanistic. It's pretty well characterized, but sometimes your metabolism will do weird shit. Diabetes diagnoses, especially type 2, are about averages and statistics in general and not individual readings.

Also know that the per-measurement accuracy of consumer blood sugar monitors is not super accurate. The numbers are more useful from a statistical standpoint and not on an individual incident-per-incident basis.
posted by kalessin at 7:15 AM on May 8, 2012

Did you do a baseline reading before you ate to make sure your sugar was at normal before you started? Type 2 diabetes is not a static thing with you always producing x amount of insulin but can waver and change a bit like the tides, depending on the rest of your diet, weight, stress health etc, I wouldn't take this as a sign to go crazy eating Maccas every day.

If you exercised, took a stressful meeting or took a hot shower things like that have been shown to lower blood sugar levels significantly too, if you did something like that after eating that could have effected your readings. Heck even being worried/nervous about what you had done and could have happened and stressing about your levels could have helped lower them some.

As an anecdotal side note as it related to type 1 not type 2, my mother has been a type one Diabetic for over 50 years and to be honest the whole crazy eating a huge amount of junk food just to see what happens plans is the sort of thing she'd do when she was hypoing with scarily low blood sugar.
posted by wwax at 7:43 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The answer is in your a1c. Your latest McDonald's meal was taken while you were in a managed state.

Sustained a1c of 5.5 tells you you're in a managed state. You took that last McDonald's experimental meal like a non-diabetic.

If your a1c creeps up again you'll manage McDonald's meals the way you used to, badly.

Well done.
posted by de at 7:47 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

As others have said, the explanation is that you have done a good job of controlling your blood sugar through your lifestyle changes, a good enough job that one super-high-glycemic index meal didn't "break the bank" in terms of your insulin response.

One super-high-glycemic index meal. One. Please don't take this as a sign that you can go back to eating this stuff regularly, because that would be totally illogical.

I left my purse on a park bench the other day and it didn't get stolen. That wasn't a sign to me that I could do it again safely.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:28 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hope this inspires/helps.
I was diagnosed as insulin resistant (metabolic syndrome) last year in february. My test came back as pretty close to full on type 2. The same day I started an ketogenic, Atkins induction type diet limiting my carbs to 20G or less per day. My sugar was normal in all of my subsequent tests and he considers me basically cured. The side bonus is that I lost 60 Lbs and i'm down to 10% bodyfat (and i'm not young). This diet also lowered my cholestorol and blood pressure.
It is one of my best decisions ever.
You can control this...
Good luck!
posted by StUdIoGeEk at 9:01 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

PS: I mean "cured" if I continue to eat/live this way
posted by StUdIoGeEk at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2012

A lot of it is the amount of fat in the meal. Fat slows down digestion of carbs, so you may have seen a spike at four or five hours, or none at all, depending on the ratio of fat to carbs.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:53 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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