When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I was told many things about controlling my diabetes, many dos and don’ts, most of which I ignored. The one thing the stuck in my mind was the basic guideline that as long as my A1c was under 7% and I didn’t have a lot of lows, I would live a long healthy life- at least as far as diabetes complications were concerned.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve done everything I can to keep my blood sugar under control even though it’s meant making drastic changes in the way I eat.
One of the first nutritional decisions I made, the very day I was diagnosed, was that sugar was totally off limits. I understood that my body couldn’t process it, and moreover, my body didn’t need it for anything. I don’t think anyone told me to cut out sugar entirely, but it seemed like a logical decision. I began to treat sugar as if I were allergic to it. It needed to be avoided entirely.
I also limited my carb intake, but still indulged in pizza, pasta, beer and other high carb foods from time to time. The problem was that every time I ate these foods, some of which were my favorites, my blood sugar got out of control. It either went too high and made me feel sluggish, or else I’d over estimate the amount of insulin I needed and end up too low. Sometimes both happened, which would really wipe me out for hours.
A little over a year ago, after reading Eric Devine’s article on ASweetLife, I decided to go on the Paleo Diet. That meant cutting out all grains, potatoes, rice and other high carb foods, as well as dairy. The diet was a little bit miraculous- my A1c dropped and my blood sugar control became much better. A few months ago I took another step in getting better control and hooked up to an insulin pump. Between my diet and my pump, I was doing incredibly well. My A1c was down to 6.3%
Then I made a mistake. On my birthday I decided to indulge and have pizza for dinner. It was great, at least at first. After a very fun and enjoyable meal I spent a few hours fighting my blood sugar down, feeling tired and frustrated. The way I felt was too big of a price to pay for a meal, no matter how good it tasted.
As long as I’ve had diabetes, I have struggled to keep my A1c under 7%. It’s not easy. It takes effort and tremendous discipline. The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been reading a lot of posts by different D-bloggers (and on the Accu-Chek Diabetes Heroes site) about how diabetics can eat whatever they want- cake, ice cream, cookies and what not. Really? Not me. Not this diabetic.
Wait. Don’t get angry. Before you think I’m about to tell you what you can or can’t eat let me say that I don’t think your diet is anyone’s business. What you choose to eat and how you manage your diabetes is all up to you, and I’m not judging you. What I want to understand is how you do it. How does someone eat a carb based diet (like most people do), eat pizza, cake and ice cream and still keep blood sugar under control? (Control here is defined as A1c under 7% with very few lows.)
Is it me? Am I doing diabetes all wrong?
Running Update: I ran my last hills this morning, finishing phase 1 – “Hills Training” – of training towards my next marathon. I’ve been running 50+ miles a week for the last 4 weeks, and will probably hit 55 miles this week.
*Cupcake picture from Magnolia Bakery web site – For every Pink Ribbon Cupcake purchased throughout the month of October, Magnolia will donate 50 cents to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I wonder if they will be having a blue one next month.