Diabetes Blog Week: Carbs?

from my blog Don’t Fear Diabetes (I post every other entry on TuDiabetes)

Day 4 – To carb or not to carb. Today let’s blog about what we eat. And perhaps what we don’t eat. Some believe a low carb diet is important in diabetes management, while others believe
carbs are fine as long as they are counted and bolused for. Which side
of the fence do you fall on? What kind of things do you eat for meals
and snacks? What foods do you deem bolus-worthy? What other foodie
wisdom would you like to share?

Well, I’m back from the doctor, and ready to write my carb post!

Before I get into the meat of it, I have to mention something I’ve noticed reading today’s posts about carbs: a lot of people sound very defensive. There seems to be a suggestion that people who eat low carb
are, by the very act of doing so, criticizing people who don’t. Maybe I
have been lucky not to have one of the nightmare CDEs/endos who yells
at their patients for allegedly not following a disciplined enough
regimen (do those people really exist? and if so, why would anyone see
them more than once??) but I feel almost scared to say that I haven’t
been eating a lot of carbs recently, lest it be perceived as some kind
of judgment about anyone else’s diet. Because nothing could be further
from the truth.

I’ve written a fair amount about my recent experiment w/ a low-carb diet (<15 per meal, usually less than that), VERY high fat/protein diet. Until today, all I had to evaluate the effect of that diet was my
Dexcom/glucometer readings. But now, having seen my endocrinologist
and looked at my lab results, I can speak with a little bit more of an
opinion: I’m a fan.

Since my last labs (which were about 4 months ago), after following a low-carb/high fat diet for about 6-7 weeks, I shaved .6 off of my A1c (while having FAR fewer hypos), dropped my LDL, raised my HDL, and lost a
little bit of fat. My endo told me I now have non-diabetic lab
numbers, and gave me two thumbs up to keep doing whatever I’m doing. So
basically, it did what I was hoping it would do. Does that mean I’m
going to continue doing it? Well..sort of.

I love food. I mean really really love food. Many were the years in my 20’s (probably all of them) where I spent more money on eating than on rent. When I travel, food is one of the main attractions. I love
all kinds of food too, protein/carbs/fat/fancy/cheap/whatever (but
preferably fresh/authentic vs. processed/bland). There’s simply no way
I’m going to go the rest of my life without eating heirloom tomatoes or
figs in the summer, In-n-Out burgers, fried chicken, or popcorn.
Especially popcorn. But I’m learning to enjoy food without always
eating whatever I want. It will take time, but if there’s anything
diabetes has taught me, it’s that you can adjust to things that you
never before thought possible, and still have a wonderful life.

Food choices for me come down to experience and goals, and both are always changing. When I thought the ADA goals were the gold standard, and I was hitting those numbers by eating what I wanted and bolusing, I
designed my diet accordingly. When I learned that it was possible (not
easy, or necessarily fun, but possible) for type 1’s to have
non-diabetic level sugars, I wanted to try to achieve that. I haven’t
been able to do so while eating a high or moderate carb diet. But if I
could, you can be sure that’s what I’d do.

I had a friend in college who was one of those people in college who taped quotes up in their rooms (you know what I mean). One of his was “total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” That’s me to a
tee. When I smoked, I was never one of those “I smoke after meals or at
parties” people. When I smoked, I smoked 30+ cigarettes a day, every
day. I quit many times, and every time, after a year or so, I would
convince myself I could have one or two. Within a week I would be back
to 30+. Getting diagnosed with diabetes made my last quit stick. So if I
were a different person, I would allow myself more carbs, and just
moderate them carefully. But I know myself too well. Once I open that
door, it won’t be so easy to close. So I have to plan in advance what
I’m willing to accept, and what I just have to trade in order to try to
keep meeting my goals (which, as I wrote yesterday, are to do my part to make my
marriage a long and healthy one).

I wrote earlier about how I feel like there are many diabetics who have had people harass them for not being disciplined enough and make them feel bad about their eating choices. It really makes me mad to
think about this. I (perhaps oddly, I don’t know) feel like if
anything, have the opposite problem. I feel like people are constantly
trying to convince me I can eat whatever I want, and not to worry about
it so much. That’s easy to say when you have beta cells that show up
for work. I think the most important thing about carbs is not “to carb
or not to carb,” it’s to feel confident about whatever decision you
make, and to not feel the need to justify it to anybody. Diet is an
important thing for ANYBODY, not just diabetics, and there’s no reason
we should have to feel more defensive about ours than anyone else.

So, to carb or not to carb? Yes. Absolutely!

I feel that Bernstein has it right
"diabetics are entitled to NORMAL blood sugars"
this is achievable by careful eating or medication. Since I also believe that “The only difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose” For me it has to be diet. I have been verbally abused for these views, usually by people who use medication by the bucketful and have HbA1cs in the range recommended by the medical establishment here in the UK [about double non-diabetic].
I know my method works for me. Rarely does my blood glucose exceed 5[90] and After 7 years of diagnosed diabetes, I use minimal medicine, which I’ve not had to increase.[in fact it’s reduced] My T2 ISN’T progressing at visible speed!!!
I don’t count or weigh carbs, I just avoid them nearly all the time. It’s MUCH simpler. I’m fit, well, very active,of fairly normal size, although I weigh heavy I’m also involved in voluntary work with diabetes and other things. I’m a very hands-on grandmother. I don’t think all this would be possible if I were coping with wild swings in blood glucose. Mine is prettty stable, which is a result of tight diet and minimal meds.
It’s not lunacy to follow something that’s proven so successful.
i don’t find the diet difficult There’s loads of nice suff to eat out there. I’m not perfect. I do give in to temptation occasionally, but i keep it rare and take a TINY portion.

i definitely agree it’s far easier to avoid carbs than to count them accurately all the time (especially if you eat out/like a wide variety of foods). that’s a point that I think is often overlooked.