Trying to figure where to start to use nutrition to manage your diabetes? Or do you already have a nutrition plan and wants tips for improving and sticking with it? On this week’s community discussion, we chatted with Adam Brown, senior editor for diaTribe, and our host Jewels Doskicz, RN and T1D, about low-carb eating. Check out some of what our experts and community members had to say:
Q. How would you describe your current eating strategy for diabetes management?
A. Adam: I limit my number of carbs at one time to less than 30 grams. That makes diabetes a lot easier! Eat food, but not too much, and mostly plants.
Jewels: I try my best to eat whole foods that have a predictably smaller impact on my blood sugars.
• My eating strategy is moderation. I adopt what is reasonable so I don't burn out. I practice low/med carb eating.
• My son follows a low-carb high-protein diet. He needs the protein as he is only 9 years old.
• I follow a modified Weight Watchers and try to reduce carbs.
• My eating strategy revolves around my exercise and activity level at any given time.
Q. Regarding a low-carb or low-carb high-fat diet, what advice have you heard or sought from healthcare providers?
A. Adam: Every healthcare provider I’ve had tells me to eat more carbs. I ignore that advice.
Jewels: Trial and error yields my best results. I eat what works best for my family and myself.
• I've never had a healthcare provider even talk about it. My certified diabetes educator when first diagnosed had me start on standard ADA moderate eating.
• I would say all things in moderation.
Q. What food strategy for diabetes can you not live without?
A. Adam: Nuts and limiting number of carbs at one time to below 30 g.
Jewels: I eat to fit the situation. Every day is different work, athletic pursuits, travel, wellness, etc.
• Taking exercise and stress into consideration. I'd be in trouble if I didn't do that.
• I really like vegetables, so if by strategy you mean foods, I would say vegetables.
• Eliminating as many processed foods as possible.
• Being a vegetarian has really, really helped me. It's not for everyone though.
Q. What psychological factors drive your willingness to hardline change your diet?
A. Adam: Feeling bad (grumpy, short-tempered, fatigued), when my blood glucose is high or low. Feelings are a forcing function for me to eat low-carb.
Jewels: Diets have to support physical health, not just diabetes. I'm always willing to change my diet if it makes me feel well. I'm somewhat black and white with eating. Healthy/ unhealthy? Is it purposeful? Does it support our other autoimmune diseases?
• I believe my emotions drive my diabetes management most of the time.
• I love it when I make up my mind and make positive changes.
• Seeing great numbers is motivating. Not being tired is great motivation.
• Many things in diabetes are outside my control, but food is one thing I can actually change.
Q. How do you find a happy medium in your diet to better treat your diabetes without burning out on it?
A. Adam: Having occasional indulgences (like sushi and chocolate) and hacking traditional recipes with almond flour (pancakes) or vegetables (zoodle).
Jewels: I try to be cognizant of how food choices will make me feel. Is it worth it to have x, y, or z?
• Not making extreme and likely unsustainable changes.
• I think a key is making sure that you don't turn to food for comfort or stress relief, there are other ways to do that!
• The way I see it, if Olympic athletes can have a cheat meal, so can I!
Q. What benefits or problems can come with a low-carb or low-carb high-fat diet?
A. Adam: Benefits: better blood sugars with less diabetes hassle. Problems: can make other people feel unhealthy or self-conscious.
Jewels: With diet, it's important to look at nutrition, calories, fat sources, cholesterol, blood sugar impacts, weight, and other health issues. Carbs aren't all bad and children with diabetes need carbs to support their growing brains.
• Biggest benefit of low carb diet: My son is being defined by his approach to health and not by diabetes.
• Sometimes being low carb is too boring and not technicolor enough for me.
• Problems: Going on holiday can be a challenge, but we have learned to work around it.
Thank you to our special guest Adam, our host Jewels, and all of our community members that joined in on this week’s chat. To join future chats, follow @DiabeticConnect on Twitter and use #DCDE every Tuesday at 9:00 pm ET.