USF Diabetes Center
USF Health

Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetes

Diet

Can I still eat sweets with diabetes?

Yes. Sweets in moderation can be enjoyed by people with diabetes. You just have to work them into your meal plan…not in addition to your normal meals! If you want a small serving of pie instead of mashed potatoes…OK!

How many carbohydrates per meal should I eat?

It varies by the individual’s age, size, and activity level. In general, adult women usually range from 45-60 grams of carbohydrate/meal. Men can range from 60-75 grams/meal. There are always exceptions, but these are safe starting points.

Is there a simple way to eat so I don’t have high blood sugars?

There is no simple solution to eating to avoid raising blood sugars. A dietitian who specializes in diabetes is the best person to work with, but there will be times when sugars are high no matter what you eat.

Exercise

How does exercise affect blood glucose?

In general, the overall affect is that it lowers blood sugar. There can be an initial rise in blood sugar immediately after intense exercise, followed by a prolonged blood sugar lowering affect.

How often, how long, and what times of day should I exercise?

The best time is the time you will do it! 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5-7 days a week is a great goal. Some examples are swimming, walking, tennis, bike riding, and dancing. A minimum of 30-45 minutes, 3 days a week is recommended in those who have been given the OK by their physician. It is alright to break the exercise into 3 or 4 smaller 15-20 minute segments throughout the day. Remember to check your blood sugar then warm up, and cool down for 5-10 minutes. This will help you avoid sore or injured muscles.

Living with Diabetes

Once diagnosed with diabetes, can it ever go away?

Once diabetes is diagnosed it is very unlikely it will ever go away, unless it was brought on by a medication. In those who can lower blood sugar by changing food intake and exercising, it seems to go away, but as years go by, medications will most likely be necessary.

How does stress affect blood glucose?

In general, stress raises blood sugar levels. It is generally temporary. When people are under prolonged stress, they may be less likely to follow through on all the tasks involved in healthy diabetes management i.e.; (forget to check blood sugar, forget to take diabetes pills, or insulin, overeat for comfort).

Why do I have to test my blood – the doctor does a blood test when I see him?

Testing your own blood gives you feedback on what your blood sugars do at various times of day and how they react to your medications, exercise, food intake, etc. By testing your own blood you help the medical provider make decisions to improve the glucose control and to decide if the medications are working properly.

Why do my feet feel tingly and numb?  Is this from diabetes?

Feet feeling tingly and numb may be due to elevated blood sugars from diabetes affecting the nerves. Feet should be checked by a medical provider at each visit.

When will they find a cure?

Researchers around the world are looking for a cure. Think of all the wonderful new things that have happened in the last 20 or 30 years that have helped people with illness or disease. We do not know when the cure will be found, but supporting research efforts by volunteering or donating is always helpful.  USF is playing a key role in the prevention and hopefully the cure of diabetes through our research under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Krischer.  If you would like to participate in research, check out the links on this site or let one of the diabetes center staff know about your interest.

Did I do something to cause this diabetes?

People cannot cause their own diabetes. No one knows for sure what makes some people get diabetes and others not, but a person cannot cause diabetes.

Medication

Once you start diabetes medication, can you ever come off of it (and control diabetes with just diet and exercise)?

Some people are able to stop taking some diabetes medications if the blood sugars can be controlled by weight loss and increased activity. That should only be done with the medical provider’s guidance.

Will insulin make me gain weight?

Insulin should not make you gain weight, but when blood sugars are high, sugar (calories) is lost in the urine. As blood sugars come down closer to normal, those calories are no longer lost and can produce a small weight gain. Most people who consume the right amount of calories for their body’s needs, do not gain weight.

Will I have to stay on medication forever?

It is very likely that people with diabetes will stay on some kind of medication forever as diabetes at present is not curable.

Is there a way to take insulin without giving shots?

At present the only way to get insulin is to take it by injection (syringe or an insulin pump). Insulin is a protein and is digested in the body if taken by mouth. There are many scientists working to see if insulin can be taken in other ways than injection