Living with diabetes can be a rollercoaster, constantly chasing highs and lows, day after day after day. Sometimes it’s easier to forget about managing it and ignore it! …But that doesn’t work because then you feel lethargic and cranky, and fears of complications comes lurking in.
But there is a simple solution! Truly. It took me 30 years to figure this out, but I finally did. Now you are about to learn this life-changing wisdom.
My name is Dr. Jody Stanislaw and I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes since I was 7. At my diagnosis in 1980, I was put on the ‘exchange diet,’ where I had to eat the exact same amounts of carbs and protein at every meal, at the exact same time, every day. I’d weigh my bread, count my pretzels, measure my milk…measuring spoons were used in my house as serving utensils.
I literally did that for 11 years, from the age of 7 to 18. I was a very obedient little girl, taking sugar-free jello to birthday parties and writing down in my log-book anytime I ate a bite of sugar.
Once I reached college however, I couldn’t take it anymore. I started to rebel and ate anything I wanted. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out so great. I ended up in a cycle of binging and undereating that lead me into a 2 month inpatient eating disorder rehab center. I came out battered and bruised but was ready to start a new way of eating.
What I realized is that I simply felt better when my blood sugars stayed stable. The key here is, I promise you, that this is true for YOU too.
When you eat to achieve balanced blood sugar levels, you’ll have more energy, less irritability or anxiety, you’ll be able to think clearer, and be happier overall….And that is what you truly want, right? To FEEL GREAT!
By eating a diet based mainly on protein, veggies, healthy fats, and less carbs it is much easier to achieve good blood sugar levels. I started having eggs for breakfast and found a recipe for a low-carb flax muffin that to this day I absolutely love. (Email me for the recipe! It’s delicious!)
I also felt better when I allowed myself to eat unlimited low-carb vegetables. This helped me not feel so restricted and it curbed my need to rebel. I would make huge salads, piles of sauteed spinach and kale, and big bowls of broccoli and cauliflower smothered in olive oil. I loved the freedom of enjoying unlimited food that I didn’t have to weigh or measure. (But, fyi for you Type 1’s, you might still need to dose a small bit for a big bowl of veggies, depending on which veggies you eat, due to a small amount of carbs.)
So what do I eat? My amazing low-carb flax muffin for breakfast (email me for the recipe if you don’t have it!) plus a homemade, no-carb, coconut milk, green tea latte. For lunch I have a big salad with seeds or nuts, cheese, lots of avocado, protein such as garbanzo beans or chicken, and any other veggies I have around the house, dressed with olive oil and salt. At dinner I have a big serving of veggies covered in olive oil and sea salt, such as broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, spinach, kale, asparagus….with a nice piece of healthy protein like wild salmon, free-range chicken, or grass-fed beef.
What I suggest for most people with diabetes, in order to achieve good blood sugar levels and thus to feel great, is to eat a diet of primarily protein, veggies, and healthy fats 80% of the time, which allows you to enjoy whatever carbs you want 20% of the time. (However, this can vary for you Type 2’s depending on your treatment goals.)
I don’t suggest trying to be perfect, or having guilt every time you indulge. Food is delicious and is meant to be enjoyed! But moderation will save you and is the key to feeling great with diabetes.
So realize that if you want to feel great, you WANT to eat healthy! These two things go hand in hand! Remind yourself of this truth the next time you think you want to eat a donut or something of the like. Pause next time and realize that you actually DON’T want to make high carb foods a regular part of your life, because what you really want is to be healthy and happy! And luckily, that allows for a few indulgences 20% of the time.
So for when you want to indulge in the 20%, i.e. when you are about to enjoy your favorite bread, pasta, dessert, or high carb food, here’s what to do:
1st – Check your blood sugar to make sure you’re not low. (Skip step #2 if you’re low.)
2nd – Dose at least 30 minutes in advance. Although insulin starts working within 15 minutes it doesn’t reach it’s full power for at least 60-90 minutes after injecting so dosing early helps the insulin be more ready to keep you from going high once you start to eat. (Advanced training in this sheds light on if and when you could dose even earlier. That is covered in one of my other trainings.)
3rd – Fully enjoy your high carb meal without worry! (If you have dosed correctly to cover the type of meal you have eaten, you shouldn’t go too high. Now this is another topic entirely on it’s own that is very complex…knowing how to dose properly for a high carb meal. Not sure how to do this? I’d be happy to help. Email me.)
4th – Once you finish eating, move your body for at least 10 minutes. This will make your insulin work faster and aids in digestion. This is as effective for Type 1’s as it is for Type 2’s! Personally, I’ve been seen doing laps around parking lots, running up and down stairs, doing squats in a bathroom stall, briskly walking up and down my driveway…
Get creative no matter where you are and I promise you, you can move your body for 10 minutes after your meal! Recruit a friend to join you and you’ll get everyone laughing. Make a fun group activity because gentle movement after a meal is good for everyone!
5th – High carb meals are very complex to dose for. You never know when the carbs will fully hit your bloodstream, when digestion will be fully complete, nor when the insulin will peak versus wear out. So the 5th step is that you must test frequently for up to 4-8 hours after a high carb indulgence.
Beware that food digests on a very different timeline than the activity timeline of insulin. If your food digests before the insulin works, you’ll go high and then low. If the meal is very complex, with carbs plus fat plus protein, the digestion could take hours thus the insulin could peak (making you go low) but then wear off, meanwhile the food is still digesting so then you’ll go high hours later. (This is why I suggest making complex dinners a rare exception! Have these kind of meals at lunch instead, to avoid the guesswork of what your sugar levels will do while you sleep!)
Now, this scenario is very complex. What happens if you’re 200 two hours after the meal? If you’re on insulin, do you take a correction dose or do you wait until your mealtime dose is fully out of your system? Well, this topic is too complex to cover here. Every food, every activity, and every person will require unique and individualized dose requirements. This is what I help my patients figure out on a daily basis. (…As I too calculate it for myself on a daily basis!) I have an entire different article on this topic, so to learn this important information too, just send me a note.
(Please note, if you are a Type 2 and are working on losing weight and trying to reverse your disease, your amount of carbohydrates may need to be more limited.)
So there you have it! Here is how to eat what you want and feel great! And the wonderful thing about eating like this is, it’s actually good for everyone, those with or without diabetes!
NOBODY needs a bunch of carbs, especially all the processed junk out there today. When you eat more REAL foods, i.e. those that come directly from the earth…such as all the wondrous and various kinds of vegetables, delicious nuts and seeds, healthy fats like avocados and coconut oil, wild and organic fish and meats…you’ll feel younger, become healthier, and have more energy. It will do your body a world of good overall.
So use the 80/20 rule to keep life simple and enjoyable….i.e. eat low carb, whole foods 80% of the time and when you want to indulge in carbs, follow the 5 steps above.
Learning this is so worth it. It sets you free. Once you get off the dismal and inept ‘count and cover’ mindset, your blood sugar levels will dramatically improve, many often lose weight, you’ll feel so much better mentally and physically, and you may even feel like you’re living a normal life!
To get help with all of this and to find out what your unique requirements are, sign-up here for a free intro consultation with me. Working with me can change your life, as it has for the hundreds of patients I’ve helped all across the country. I specialize in type 1, but work with motivated type 2’s as well. I work via phone so you can talk to me from the comfort of your own home. No commute. No waiting rooms.
Please, stop wondering what to eat and suffering the damage that high blood sugars do to your mind and body. Whether you are a type 1 or 2, sign up for a free intro consultation with me.
I look forward to speaking with you soon,
Dr. Jody Stanislaw
Certified Diabetes Educator
Type 1 since 1980…and thriving
Medical disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. This information is NOT intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare provider. Do not use the information provided in this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other health care provider before making any changes to your health care treatment plan, taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any other new treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking professional assistance because of something you’ve read in this article. Information provided in this article and the use of any product or services related to this article DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Jody Stanislaw, ND.