Saturday, May 29, 2010


I have a conflicted relationship with food now.  Wait, that's not right... I've always had a conflicted relationship with food.

I love food and I hate food.  I've been in good places with it, and I've been in bad.  I remember one night in college, back when I was unhealthily heavy and seemingly unable to change it, I was standing over my food drawer in my dorm room, eating Doritos and crying because I couldn't stop.  And then, by about a year after college, I was down to a normal weight and was eating mostly organic food that I loved...  Largely because I was a happier person and didn't have much of a need to eat emotionally.  I'd have my vegetarian lunches of a cheese and broccoli slaw sandwich on whole wheat (honestly so good!), light miso soup, and seriously tasty organic chips.  I was satisfied, eating in moderation, and avoiding most sweets because I just didn't crave them.

So to show you those two polar opposite pictures gives you a little background.  For the past couple of years, I've been more like the average person.  I ate a little too much and there was more junk food to be had when I was under periods of stress, but it was about what you'd expect from an average American working girl.  I gained enough that I wanted to get back to better habits and lose weight again, but most of those better habits never formed permanently.

But for the past year or so, I was more or less eating whatever I wanted without gaining weight.  Nothing insanely unhealthy, but I ate all the time because I was hungry all the time, and I either held steady or lost a little weight.  At one point, after a couple days of eating way too much junk and sugar, I got on the scale and thought, "Wow, I didn't gain!  I guess since most of what I eat is on the healthier side, I do OK with eating as much as I do and having the occasional sweet treat."

How bizarre, to think that I was maintaining what seemed like a "healthy" weight only because my body was anything but healthy... because it wasn't working properly... because my cells couldn't get the fuel they needed.

I didn't fix my eating habits the moment I discovered I was diabetic, but I did as soon as I started my extremely conservative insulin regimen a few days later.  At first, since I knew I was really only taking insulin for my existing blood sugar and not what I was about to put in my mouth, I began eating meals of no more than 30 carbs each.  Once I started calculating my insulin to account for my food a few days after that, the dietitian assured me that I could eat more carbs as long as I didn't go crazy.  45 to 60 carbs per meal is the realistic range.

But I still keep most of my meals around 30 carbs.  Sometimes 40, rarely up to 60.  I know there will be times when I eat more than that (damn it all to hell if I can't have a little piece of real cake on my own birthday!), but that's fine with me for now.

It's a combination of things.  First of all, I'm satisfied with that 30 to 40 range.  I mean... my hunger stops!  I may be consuming far fewer carbs than I used to, but my body is able to use so much more!  So my physical cues to "eat more fuel" aren't there.

Second, I currently don't like giving myself the larger amounts of insulin that go along with higher carb meals.  This is all still new to me, and I feel nervous every time I take a larger dose of insulin than I have before.

Third, I'm realizing that a lower carb diet will not only mean possible weight control now that my body is working normally, but also savings on medicine...  The fewer carbs I eat, the less insulin I need!  I'm not going to make decisions for my body based on financial issues, but it's something that's crossed my mind.  And is it somehow better to need/take less insulin, anyway?  I think the true answer is "stay healthy and take the insulin to support that health," but haven't fully adopted that attitude.  To be healthy on less medication is better than to be healthy on more medication, in my mind.

And I can't leave out the the fact that I worry I'll blow up like a balloon now that my body can use and store the fuel I give it.  I got the green light to do start doing some light exercise (should have started already, definitely will this coming week), but all of this has made me want to become a freaking athlete.  Diabetes puts you at risk of so much, including cardiovascular disease, that I want to reduce as many other risks as I possibly can.  That means losing and then maintaining my weight and getting fit in general... especially my heart.  I'm a 30 year old woman who is still menstruating, and that gives me a good window to get my heart up to speed before I become more at risk for heart attacks at menopause.  I'm going to take advantage of that window, damn it!  (This will have to be an entire post unto itself.  There are many layers of fear and frustration surrounding exercise, fitness, and risk for cardiovascular disease.)

Another thing I've considered, regarding food, is starting the Nutrisystem Diet again.  The prepackaged, perfectly portioned entrees would make it easy to know exactly how many carbs I'm putting in my body, and they have a low-glycemic version called "Nutrisystem D" that's designed to help Type 2 Diabetics gain control over their disease through food.  A low-glycemic diet could not control Type 1 Diabetes, but it would support the medical treatment.  I'm struggling with this decision though, because it's fairly expensive once you start adding in the grocery items.  And the last time I did Nutrisystem, I grew tired of the dinners and lunches fast.  (But man, do they have awesome breakfasts and snacks!)  That, and I actually suspect I may end up consuming slightly more carbs than I currently do.  Many of the meals would be 40 carbs once the salad and veggies are added.  Not bad, but maybe not what I want.

But I think it could be a really great choice for someone who's eating a few more carbs than I currently do.  Hell, it still may be a great choice for me, anyway.  (And, FYI, the first time I did Nutrisystem was awesome.  I loved the food while it was new to me, I was only tempted to do some very minor and rare "cheating," and I think I lost about 20 pounds!)

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