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Diet

By reading the preceding sections of this book, the reader has actually achieved the first object of those five listed above. With regard to the second one diet there is still more to learn. Although carbohydrate is the main problem for the diabetic's body, it must be realized that no person who wants to remain healthy can do without it entirely. The body simply burns up its fat stores and these will obviously be limited. Besides, energy from fat stores involves high levels of blood ketones and a breakdown of protein, too, so the affected person remains a victim of the progressive wasting disease. Thus carbohydrate is taken as part of a diabetic's diet, but in a controlled and limited amount.

Calculated to provide sufficient calories (the chemical units of energy) for daily needs, a diabetics diet can have relative freedom with regard to meat and other protein, and comparative freedom with regard to fatty foods, but there must be restrictions on the carbohydrate. Free sugar will probably be omitted, bread, sweets, chocolate, potatoes and cakes restricted, and some of the sweeter fruits possibly a little limited but gradually the diabetic learns the carbohydrate values of most foodstuffs. Indeed, most diabetics become expert nutritionists in time. The hospital dietician, or the physician when a diabetic is first diagnosed, will spend a great deal of time teaching the patient about carbohydrates. The parents of diabetic children soon become experts, too. It is by no means a life of dietary misery and deprivation that awaits a diabetic for there are many dietary substitutes on the market today that can mean that the restrictions are only a matter of care in selection of what to eat and drink, and not a matter of 'never being able to have'. For example, diabetic chocolate, sweets, jams, sweeteners, beers, special wines and even diabetic Easter eggs are all commercially available. Why they are safe is because they are made with sorbitol, saccharine or other non-carbohydrate sweeteners, which do not raise the blood sugar. (However, they are not suitable for the overweight as they ofter contain the same number of calories as non-diabetic varieties.) Most are available at chemists and health food stores and, although more costly than the ordinary product, nevertheless they make the indulgence worthwhile to the newly diagnosed diabetic.

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