Wanted: Ways to make healthy improvements!
January 2009 — Am I addicted to carbs?
I think that is an easy question to answer -- YES!! And my high carb addiction lifestyle is making my diabetes so much harder to manage.
This is a big problem for me because my diet is weird. I don't eat meat. So am I a vegetarian? Well, I guess maybe, but I don't eat many veggies (does "vegetarian" mean they eat a lot of veggies?). So I must eat a lot of fruit, right? Wrong again.
It's not that I have problems with any of those things, I just don't like them. In fact, I would even call it a pretty strong dislike. It's mostly the textures that bother me, and the idea that the meat was walking around before landing on my plate. That grosses me out.
I do eat some things that go completely against my texture thing. Like whole green olives, you know the kind with the pit in the middle that you have to eat around? When I think of that, it is exactly the type of thing I shouldn't like. But yet, I like it! If I could figure out how that flip happened, I might be able to expand my menu!
I'm all about the breads, potatoes, pastas, and rice. It's all carbs! Oh yeah, don't forget ketchup (which because of the added sweeteners also has carbs). My diet is a true nightmare for someone living with diabetes.
So what options do I have? I have thought about learning all that I can on the low carb lifestyle. But that is a big change, and I don't think I'm ready to fight my carb addiction head on right now. Another option that I've considered is just ignoring the problem, but my blood sugars and A1C's bring me back to reality pretty quick. The carb addiction is clearly making it hard to manage my diabetes.
There is an option that I think I can work with. Have you ever heard of the glycemic index? I more commonly see this as the GI rating of a food item, and it is a measure of how fast that item will raise blood sugar. So the idea here is that I can work more low GI rated foods into my diet. That will satisfy my carb addiction and help keep the post meal spikes to a manageable level (in theory).
I love the whole grain types of breads, and can easily do things like whole wheat pasta. I'm pretty sure I can work with brown rice rather than white rice. But what about potatoes? That might be a problem. Maybe I can learn how to prepare them differently, or have them with something that will slow them down a bit. I'm sure there are options.
I have taken some of these steps before, and until I really make a commitment to it, I often fall back to my old ways. Part of what gives me problems is dealing with low blood sugars. To treat low blood sugars, low GI rated foods are not a good choice. But when I keep high GI rated foods around, my carb addiction kicks in and I eat them even when I'm not low.
One of the most logical answers to this problem is to treat lows only with glucose tabs, or the giant box of Smarties I have. And yes, logically that makes a whole bunch of sense. Where I fall apart with that plan is when I get sick of treating lows with those things, and look for something a little more satisfying to treat with.
How about if I just avoid lows? Right! That is about as likely as magically flipping my "I like MEAT" switch. Lows are just a part of life for most of us living with diabetes, and I need to be prepared and ready to deal with them.
I think that if I can find a handful of things that I use, strictly to treat lows, and stick to them, then I'll be able to work with this plan.
Another challenge that comes to mind is that my kids often want different foods in the house than I do. It's kind of crappy pulling this excuse out, because most of those high GI rated foods are not good for them either. But I can tell you that it is hard getting a kid to eat something they don't like. I suppose if they are hungry enough, they might go for it.
(Just don't call Family Protective Services if my kids look malnourished.)
There is a lot involved with changing eating styles like this, so I don't expect to be able to jump right in tomorrow. But I will work on it, and write more about it and my journey to eat better. It is something I've been working on for a long time with very limited or temporary success, so I'm open to ideas on how to make it stick this time!
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...