Fixing my eating habits

I was diagnosed with Type 1 four years ago, and I’ve never really taken the time to learn how to eat “right.” I’ve had the same terrible eating habits my entire life from a combination of the way my family’s always eaten together (lazy, microwaves, very little cooking, same foods all the time, etc), and the typical poor college student diet.

I only recently decided to turn things around and start taking care of myself. The "eat whatever you want, and take enough insulin" method needs to go. Someone suggested I join a site like this for help, information, support, etc. So, here I am. I'd like to simultaneously learn how to cook and eat healthier, both in general and as a diabetic. If anyone has any books, sites, blogs that maybe they found helpful or would point me in the right direction, I'd be eternally grateful.


While sugar is a big offender, it is not the only one; what is most important is carbs; carbs are what raise blood sugar and reducing carbs lowers blood sugar; simple (and complex) as that. We are all different. Some people find that whole grains are better than white four products. For some of us, it makes little difference. The best way to find out what works for you is to test, test, test. If you are not able to be 140 or lower two hours after eating a certain food/meal than you either need to eliminate that food or at least reduce the portion. Replace carbs with lots of fresh vegetables and protein of any kind. There is no reason to be hungry even if you eat very low carb.

My insurance pays for me to talk with a nutritionist. Some are really good and some aren’t, but if you are insured, you can work with one of them to get a diet figured out.

I don’t have a good book or website to recommend for a diet guidelines, but I do have some recommendations. Sorry this is so long, but I talk too much. = )

Have you read any books about diabetes? I see you are on shots, so I recommend reading Think Like a Pancreas by Gary Scheiner, and Using Insulin (Pumping Insulin if you were on a pump) by John Walsh. Both really good books. I read them after about 25 years of being diabetic, and they changed my life. All of a sudden I understood what I needed to be doing. One of the books would be very good, but they cover different info, and I think you can get both off of Amazon for like $20-$30 total. Both books have worksheets and details on how to figure your basal (long term) and bolus (short term) insulin doses, and I:C (insulin to carb ratios). Also, they talk about how to figure how much protein raises your glucose levels.

For food, remember that when you have nutritional info on a box, it is figured by weight, not volume, so if you get, say cereal, it will probably settle and break up a little during shipment, so you will probably get more carbs than you anticipate. Also, the more ripe fruit is, the more carbs will be in it. Also, the FDA only requires that nutritional info on labels be within 20%. That is horrible, right?

If you are a gadget person, I love the eatsmart scale my bf gave me for my birthday last year. It makes weighing things more fun, and easy for a meal. We all have to do math every time we eat, but this helps with the math. = )

Some people on this site swear by the Dr Bernstein’s plan, because it really has changed their lives, but I haven’t had the courage to look into it, because it limits carbs to 30 grams per day. Yeah, per day. Anyway, here is his link , I like my morning oatmeal too much.

I’ve started a blog recently where I post recipes. There are carb values at the end of each post, so if you make the recipe, you know how much carbs there is per serving.

Another good place to start is to start buying healthy food and stop buying food you don’t want to eat. If it’s laying around, you’re going to eat it. So have healthy things laying around.

Buy more fruits, vegetables, nuts and cheeses, lunch meats, peanut butter.

Stop buying sugared cereal, cakes, cookies, chips and dip, energy bars, snack bars, candy, soft drinks (diet is okay), white bread, croissants, muffins, rolls. Basically, avoid things made with white flour, and that’s a LOT of stuff, and anything white -potatoes, white rice.

Keep a bowl of fruit in the kitchen or dining room instead of a bag of chips. Get a water cooler and refillable bottles (or plastic bottles if you must) instead of sweetened drinks.

Eat colorful food, avoid colorful drinks. If it’s white, don’t eat - take flight. If it’s brown, don’t chow down.

Start simple and build from there.

Good luck,


To do low carb diet, the best rule I learned to make it simplier and not get me so confused was:

“Ignore sugar grams. They are part of the total carb count.”

So when you are reading nutritional labels at the store or looking up your carb counts for your food online (there are lots of great sites. I usually go to you don’t have to look at both. Before I figured this out, I was looking at both and driving myself crazy.

I support what others are saying too. Avoid REFINED foods - pasta, breads, potatoes - esp. the white varieties - all high in carbs and most with little or no nutrition anyhow. The more fresh foods you eat the better. Processed sugars (of course) are a big one - like high fructose corn sugar. And don’t forget aobut portions. You really have to label read for that one!

Changing the diet for this is a long process I think. You won’t get it all figure out in one day. I think if you avoid the big carb or sugar items that will be a very good first start. :slight_smile:

For the insulin, I don’t take it, but I know several insulin users on here have remarked that if they do low carb they often don’t need as much insulin.

  1. Eat when you’re physically hungry. Do not feed the emotional hunger or boredom with food, but with enjoyable activities or time spent with friends and family.

  2. Stop when you’re physically satisfied… Not when you’re bloated, or in pain.

  3. So long as you can control the carbs, or make it a lower carb dish, or portion size the meal appropriately to what works for you… EAT WHATEVER YOU FEEL LIKE EATING.

  4. Eat with awareness: With no distractions, no tv, no conversation, no reading… Just you, and the food. Focus on the food: it’s taste, it’s smell, it’s texture, it’s appearance. You will soon find out you don’t need as much of it, and some of it you don’t even like at all.

  5. Do experimental eating. Try new things all the time, and making new recipes… while eating them when hungry, and with awareness. See what it is you like.

  6. Drink plenty of water, so that you’re not confusing hunger with hydration.

  7. Go on a few walks, every once in a while, to stimulate metabolism and hunger signals.

  8. Do not restrict anything, but figure out creative ways of making everything, lower carb when necessary, so that you don’t spike.

  9. DON’T go on a diet.

That is ALL you need to know to eat better, have better habits, control blood sugars, and lose weight. No need for books, crazy diets, or anything else.

Good for you, Russell!

Before being diagnosed T1, I didn’t cook near as much as I do now. Went out for dinner a lot & I was the take-out queen after a long day at work. I eat more varied, healthier & interesting meals now. I don’t eat grains (bread, crackers, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.) beans, juice, milk or starchy vegetables. Berries are the only fruit that don’t send me soaring. I eat nuts, use nut flours, golden flaxseed meal & coconut flour for baking, unsweetened almond milk (or cream diluted with water), cheese, eggs, protein, lots of low carb veggies, butter, virgin coconut oil, olive oil.

I don’t eat processed foods because they have hidden carbs. Nutritional labels aren’t accurate.

Like Tanya, I love the EatSmart scale. Makes things much easier.

I found delicious recipes searching low carb sites. Diabetic recipes sites & diabetic cook books are mostly useless. I entertain a lot & guests never know they’re eating low carb meals. There’s the misconception that low carb is a diet of deprivation. I don’t feel deprived & am never hungry. I was a carb junkie before & the carb cravings have gone away.

Linda’s Low Carb Menus & Recipes
The Low Carb Cafe
Low Carb Luxury
Simply Recipes
Low Carb Eating
Low Carb Friends
Healthy Indulgences

There is a lot of good reading out there, but something that can help immediately is having some easy recipes to start eating healthy. once of the first books i got was …

I like Dr. Richard Bernstein’s approach. He has been a type 1 since 1946. You can read his book on-line - a lot of interesting stuff

Dlife has a good website. Your best alternative is to see a nutritionist - one that works w/diabetics

Not as strick with diet as a lot of the adults here, though we feed E a healty diet, we have not excluded potatoes, converted rice or white bread (she won’t eat brown). We feed her 40 grams carbs breakfast and lunch (never more than 40 at breakfast, often lower). We usually do 60 or 70 grams carbs for dinner. She sometimes will ask for snacks. The only meals that are problems are breakfast and late dinners. She must be very careful what she eats for breakfast or she will spike. At dinner, we watch the fat so it does not effect the blood sugar over night. We use fruit for mild lows. Or give fruit with a meal, bolus for it at the beginning of a meal and give her the fruit one hour after bolus (there is other food eaten in the meantime). By giving fruit at the end of a meal we avoid the spike, due to the fiber, fat and protein and giving fruit once the insulin is starting to peak. Ironically some junk food does not spike her blood sugar (chocolate, potato chips and ice cream come to mind), as verified by our Dexcom. We go for a healthy diet, moderate carb, low fat and knowing what foods or combination of foods spike her blood sugar. She is allowed treats but has been refusing all fatty foods lately as she wants to stay very thin. I applaud you for taking charge of your health. I would eliminate all white flour products from her diet if I could, though converted rice is 32 on the glycemic index and potatoes have a lot of nutrients. I have read that sprouted brown rice is very healthy for Type 1 (releases some compound that combats spikes in blood sugar). Will be testing sprouted brown rice you can buy but not sure if to get the benefits you must sprout your own. We have used Quinoa pasta for years and not only does she not spike, she drops after eating it (with no spike later on). Have to be careful testing the Quinoa pasta. For instance we subtract 20 grams from a 50 gram serving plus give her free sauce (7 to 10 grams). One hour and a half later, her blood sugar will be normal with tons of IOB and we have to cover half of the remaining IOB. So that pasta works too well.


Is the book Think Like a Pancreas good for those of us on MDI as well? I’m interested in it, but I am not a pump user and don’t plan to be one anytime soon so I’d love helpful advice on MDI-related stuff.


Yes, Sarah, it’s definitely good for those of us on MDI. The principles hold for everyone. While older books sometimes do not have goals as low as some on here advocate, this book gives principles.

I think a Dexcom is the best way to learn what foods do to you - what sequences, what proportions. One can do research on onself with almost immediate feedback, even if the interstitial fluid is 15 minutes behind in telling what’s happening. It gives a whole new world.

POCKET GUIDE - Traffic light food Guide - carbohydrate counter - great resouce. I have lost 12kg from carb counting and using much less insulin and feeling great

eat this not that, supermarket guide
i love those books, now if only i listen…

It took me more than 5 years to figure out how to eat healthy. I find that self control at the grocery store is indeed the most important step. If you don’t have unhealthy options at home, you are less likely to eat them. For a while you will wish for them, then you will get used to it.

For me starting everyday with 2 eggs helps too (cooked differently). Starting the day off ‘full’ gives me less temptation somehow.

Also, in terms of cooking, we found it difficult to cook healthy food everyday. So we cook on the weekend and eat leftovers during the week (at least until Wednesday or Thursday). We have learned to make dishes that keep well.

I was diagnosed already a long time ago but I still suffer that I can’t eat some things. I am a great high carb enthusiast and I miss this kind of food the most. Luckily I recently found this low carb pita bread, approved as diabetic food. It’s really delicious, I eat it very often. Try it!

Hi Russ!
I’ve just started a blog just for this…
it’s helped to bring my son’s insulin requirements from ~60 units/day to ~10 units/day