Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Regardless of the type of diabetes you've been diagnosed with, food choices are put under scrutiny, honing in on one’s daily eating practices. We all start this journey from different places and results may vary.
Cycling through "diet solutions" for diabetes is a questionably circumspect practice and brings to mind an excellent quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.”
Are our choices really that shameful?
I argue that the word “diet” itself is boresome, redundant even. Diet seems to bring us back to the same comfortable place, be it a bit cleaner if some of the concepts result in sustainable changes.
Diets often shame food groups and ingredients. We like easy and quick solutions, but they’re most often time-limited by nature. Popular diets that dictate what’s edible may serve as temporarily appealing ideas that separate our minds from our stomachs. But over time our desire to exert choice usually wins over.
Is that so wrong?
We may not think about it often, but cravings and desire are at the root of our food choices, resulting from a number of different factors, such as habit, exercise, stress, and blood sugar fluctuations.
Moderation, and the balance that comes along with it, result from listening to our bodies when they talk to us. Restrictive diets employ tactics that deny us of the things we want, and whether this technique is successful or not varies by the individual.
Is there a diet solution?
“Far from faddish,” carbohydrate-restricted diets have been the mainstay for diabetes, remaining a standard for diabetes educators. It’s even been set up as a "default diet,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
Joslin Diabetes Center has a very digestible approach to diet with their “one size fits some” strategy focusing on evidence-based guidelines. They believe that “there is no fad diet that will help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and reduce their risk for serious complications.”
The USDA guidelines and Joslin’s differ; Joslin has found greater successes than USDA with type 2 diabetes when it’s treated with higher protein and lower carbohydrate ratios in the daily diet.
Joslin recommends this for the diabetes diet:
- Carbohydrates: 40 percent of calories from carbs, plus 20 to 35 grams of fiber primarily from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.
- Protein: 20 to 30 percent of calories should come from protein-rich sources such as fish, beans, tofu, and low fat meats. *This will be different with kidney disease.
- Fat: 30 to 35 percent of calories from healthy-fat choices such nuts, seeds, fatty fish and olive oil.
Diet moderation sounds reasonable, but it certainly isn’t all about what we eat—finding time for daily exercise is also a critical part of the equation.
All in all, it’s time to drop the shame and embrace moderation instead.