Is it possible to achieve a healthy balance between being a great diabetic with amazing numbers and letting your body tell you what it needs when it comes to nutrition? My constant quest for perfect blood sugar numbers has led me to try many different diet and exercise regimes over the years. It is nearly impossible for me to not be think about food all of the time when I am carb counting and therefore, it is really difficult for me to take a “listen to my body” approach to food.
Dysregulated and Compulsive Eating–
So, I guess I wasn’t surprised to find that drastically more diabetic women develop eating disorders than non-diabetic women, it’s on our brains all the time. According to diabetesforecast.org, women with type 1 are twice as likely to develop an eating disorder. People with diabetes find out that they can rapidly lose weight if they skip their insulin doses because their body cannot process the food they consume. Without insulin, our bodies don’t have the ability to use the glucose we consume as fuel or store it as fat. Our body gets rid of the glucose and never gains weight but this habit comes with dire consequences. This recognized disorder has been dubbed “diabulimia.” Even if you aren’t compulsively watching your waistline, people with diabetes are forced to analyze every meal which can still lead to a sense of guilt after eating. The correlation between eating disorders and diabetes is easy to make.
With both weight and diabetes, the tighter your control, the better the results. Whether it be eating less, testing more, exercising, etc. a lot of the ways that we are taught to achieve weight loss are also critical to improving control of this disease. It’s easy to see how people can lose sight of controlling just blood sugar. When constantly looking at labels and analyzing food, it can be hard not to go overboard scrutinizing calories and fat and all that other nutritional information as well.
Pregnancy has certainly made me even more aware of what I am putting in to my body. It has also heightened my self-awareness about the fact that I am not an “everything in moderation” kind of girl. If I allow myself to eat ice cream, I will eat the entire bin of ice cream in the first sitting unless I measure it out and make “rules” for myself prior to eating. Some people have no problem knowing when they are full, but I seem to ignore those warning signs. I think diabetes has taught me to ignore certain signs my body gives me because I don’t always get to choose when I eat. When I’m low, I HAVE to eat. When I’m high, a walk is a better idea than that hot burger and the gurgling stomach gets ignored.
Cutting the Stress–
I know this seems like a very doomsday post, but I wanted to explain why the low carb diet has worked so well for me and I think all these things play a part. Although I haven’t struggled with eating disorders, I do have compulsive tendencies with food. For me, following a low carb diet has made it easier to obtain greater control (I just got a 5.0% A1C, my best yet!!!) over my diabetes while still ensuring that I get ample calories and nutritional value from my meals. I also don’t have to make silly rules and grapple with nutritional labels as much, which makes my life less stressful and makes meal time more enjoyable.
With many of the low carb foods that I eat, I can eat as much as I want without seeing any horrible numbers or getting middle of the night surprises. I also don’t have to worry as much about how much I’m eating because often times, low carb is also low calorie. Sticking to a diet heavy in meats, veggies, dairy products and nuts makes my life so much easier and I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything. Hunting for low sugar desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth has become a fun new hobby and I spend a lot more time in the kitchen getting creative.
I have found that the benefits of clean, low carb eating outweigh any cravings and in turn let me live a less stressful and more fulfilled life. Any time that I don’t have to spend thinking about diabetes is time well spent in my mind.
So far, my only qualm with this diet is the lack of low sugar booze… But I guess I shouldn’t be too worried about that right now anyways. I’ll tackle it in a few months….