Friday, September 3, 2010

What to Eat?

Since diagnosis, I've struggled with what I should eat in my overall diet. I don't believe anything is 100% banished from my kitchen, but I have struggled with whether or not I should limit carbs in general.

I already eat far fewer carbs than before I was diagnosed, but that's largely because:
a) I was so freaking hungry all the time!
b) You can't mindlessly snack on carbs as a diabetic. You have to be deliberate enough to measure and bolus. So no box of crackers next to me, thanks. I'll count out my portion and put them on a napkin.

And I'd probably have gained way more weight if I'd kept eating the way I used to... now that my body can use and store carbs.

Which brings me to one reason why I think a lower carb diet is a good one to consider...

Fewer carbs helps maintain (or lose) weight. Aside from a potential reduction in calories, and the theory that our bodies' metabolisms work "properly" when we consume fewer carbs, fewer carbs also means less insulin. I am skeptical of this next point, but I've read over and over that "insulin causes weight gain." I'm not so sure about that... It seems more likely, to me, that insulin allows us to gain weight from what we eat. After all, you take more insulin because you're either eating more carbs, or because your carbs aren't being properly absorbed with smaller doses. But still, it's a theory that worries me.

And the other significant reason for considering a lower-carb diet...

Smaller mistakes.
If you're eating something high-carb, that calls for more insulin. So if you get the portion size wrong for something carb-dense, your dosage error could also be pretty significant. Take that piece of cake I had yesterday: I was guessing at the carbs, based on how many carbs are in other frosted cakes I've had before, and gave myself three units of insulin for the piece I ate... but I guessed wrong, my BG (blood glucose) dropped quick, and I struggled for the entire afternoon to keep my numbers up (which meant consuming a lot of unwanted calories, tying back to my first reason!!!). Let's compare that to if I'd eaten, say, a sugar free cup of yogurt. If the nutrition label was torn and I couldn't look up the brand, I'd remember that my usual sugar-free yogurt cups are about 7 carbs and (assuming this cup is the same size) given myself anywhere between .65 or .8 units of insulin (depending on my insulin-to-carb ratio for that time of day). My guess might be off, but I doubt it would be by more than .2 of a unit. As long as my BG was at a pretty safe number in the first place, an error of that size isn't going to hurt things much. Unlike the cake, for which I probably gave myself one whole extra unit (if not more).

I love carbs, and I believe everyone should be able to enjoy cake once in a while... but I know from experience that I can eat a generally lower-carb diet and feel satisfied. But that was a few years ago... If I can just get back into that mode!

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