Saving Money in the Face of Type 2 Diabetes

My husband is on the verge of a life-changing diagnosis: type 2 diabetes. I’m proud to say that he is looking this impending diagnosis in the face and calling its bluff.

Besides the symptoms is the sheer expense of diabetes: insulin, blood meters and co-pays for the doctors’ appointments, to name a few. In our quest to save something for the kids’ college funds, he is taking matters into his own hands and (with the approval of his doctor) is striving to stabilize his blood sugar for as long as possible without medical intervention.

With his family’s strong history of diabetes, can he avoid – or at least lessen the effects of – this family trait? Can he be healthier in his sunset years than his parents and grandparents? Only time will tell, but we’re going to give it our best shot.

By far the biggest part of our lifestyle change was sticking to our healthy eating plan more rigorously than ever before. Our goals are to lower fat, salt and sugars in our meals, which cut out a lot of our favorites. These changes are very hard for dear husband who would rather eat a candy bar than an apple. However, he is giving it his best try, and reports the good side is winning more often. While most people assume a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes means more costs, making healthful changes can actually trim your budget:

Fruits, veggies and whole grains, oh my!

Our childhood eating habits haunt us. Velveeta, creamy soups and lots of desserts were the staple of dear husband’s childhood. It makes my mouth water to think of my mother’s spice cake and meatloaf. Dear husband and I were already trying to make an effort to eat better, but I have put this goal into high gear. I keep lots of fruits and vegetables around where they are easy to grab and try to have a vegetable and a salad every night.

The tricky part is that eating lots of fruits and vegetables means there are frequent trips to the store. Once in a store, I am prone to the danger of forgetting my list and undisciplined moments that lead to unplanned purchases. There goes the budget! Canned fruits and veggies have saved me.

While I do make those once-a-week trips to the store for fresh foods, I have been buying our canned goods once a month at our super-cheap market to provide a quick, no-fuss snack or side dish. I only get low-salt vegetables and fruit in natural juice.

I heart my slow cooker

I adore my slow cooker, but wasn’t happy with many of the recipes I’ve found for it. While they were easy, delicious and fast to put together, many feature creamed soups and lots and lots of meat.

Much to my delight, I found this blog while searching for healthful slow cooker recipes. The recipes usually include lots of vegetables and have some great vegetarian and chicken dishes. Using the slow cooker has also prodded me to have a meal plan, which further streamlines my grocery shopping and saves the extra impulse purchases I tend to make when I’m hungry and just want to get home.

Staying active

Dear husband has always been a slim fellow, perhaps because he is so naturally active. He is always heading somewhere, doing something, or focusing his attention on a project he is planning at work. So when the doctor warned him his sugars were on the rise, he said, “Usually I tell people to start losing weight, but I can’t do that with you.”

Instead, dear husband built more activity into his day. He bikes 6 miles to and from work. Granted we have purchased the necessary gear for him to bike in our rainy and cold weather, but overall his biking has saved us spending $80 in gas every other week to fill up on his truck.

Most of the year, dear husband coaches high school runners. While bringing in some extra income, it also provides another opportunity for activity. He alternates between running with the kids or biking, depending on the workout.

Stay connected

Dear husband finds fishing is a great stress reliever for him. Unluckily for him, perhaps, he’s hooked the rest of the family on the sport. We do let him go by himself sometimes, but our family trips are an easy way to reconnect with each other and the kids as we troll with a couple of lines off the back.

Being a people person, dear husband enjoys maintaining connections with his friends and family across the country. We’ve been able to save a lot of money using only our cell phones for long-distance calls. Our plan offers free long-distance in the United States, and rolls over the unused minutes to the next month, thus saving us more than $100 a year since we got the cell phones.

Discuss amongst yourselves

Talking about high blood sugar has also helped us both navigate the waters of this health issue. Our cousin is living with the high blood sugar and is able to control her symptoms with diet and exercise. She has been a great help and offered numerous tips and lots of encouragement.

My father has also been able to offer insights about when my mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He has shared what it was like for them to change their lifestyles and also gave us the books they bought when Mom was diagnosed, which saved us both money and the time it would take to find them.

Count the blessings

It seems odd to feel grateful for an unhealthy diagnosis that looms on the horizon, but I do. It has pulled us further together further and made us focus on our health. We try to be more preventative and proactive about our health, rather than waiting for bad things to happen. I hope that our behaviors today will delay my husband’s high blood sugar symptoms and impart lower medical bills in the future.

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4 Responses to Saving Money in the Face of Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Koppur says:

    I understand. A year ago I was diagnosed with MS, and the amount spent on this is crazy; daily shots, steroids, pain relievers, trying to eat healthy, staying active, etc. Good luck to your hubby.

  2. Ann says:

    I am glad your husband is taking this seriously. Be aware that many fruits and some vegetables will actually raise his blood sugar faster than “sweets” will.
    My dear husband is Type I.

  3. baselle says:

    Keep at it, taste buds take a little time to retrain. Noticed that you have fresh and canned fruits and vegetables. What about frozen? Often the big three – corn, peas, green beans – on sale are a bit cheaper than fresh but offer the flexibility of canned.

  4. minny says:

    I have searched out a section from our Diabetis organisation – it is all about shopping it gives lots of advice including recipes.

    In Britain frozen vegetables are more popular than canned. They are just as good as fresh for the ‘5 fruit and vegetables a day’.

    The slow cooker is excellent for cooking beans. I have had some cannelini beans soaking all night and will put them in the SC later this morning. The trouble with American bean recipes is that they seem to contain a lot of sugar. Have a search on the internet for recipes from other parts of the world. Here in Britain we don’t seem to like our savoury food as sweet as you do – this includes salad dressings.

    What the French do for a salad is to put a little Dijon mustard in the bottom of the salad bowl, mix with a spoon of wine vinegar and then 3 spoons of olive oil (very good for you, flax oil is also good for the Omega 3’s) they then put the lettuce on top (never the iceberg types – they use softer leaves). When they are ready to eat it they mix it up.

    We in Britain are lucky because our doctor/nurse visits are free (we pay an insurance contribution through our salary which includes everyone) and drugs are charged at a set rate – about $10 for a month’s worth. However it is free for many groups and for certain illnesses. (Including me and my husband as we are both over 60)

    Changes are always difficult, but when your health is at stake it is worth doing. Good luck.

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