Type 1 and Diets
I have spent the most part of the past 15 of my 37 years living with T1 ‘experimenting’ with many different facets of my diabetes. I was always taught by my Mom that diabetes does not control me, I control it. I learned and I believe I had the innate intuitive ability to know that my body is different regardless of whether someone else was living with diabetes, another chronic disease or was ‘normal’. In order to make my disease work for me I had to try different things to see what worked and what didn’t. Although the 1st set of Guidelines were established by the Canadian Diabetes Association in 1992 and the DCCT (Diabetes Complication and Control Trial) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993, I was not at a point in my life nor was it mandated that I should have routine visits with my Diabetes Specialist to learn or apply these. I don’t recall (or maybe I didn’t care enough to investigate) a Diabetes Team that was established within my area to provide the education I required based on those established guidelines & clinical publication(s). Suffice to say, I learned on my own and at many dangerous sacrifices which in today’s advancements and support I do not recommend. As many who were or still on insulin(s) such as Toronto, Humulin R, Lente, Humulin L, Novolin NPH & Humulin N…you understand and I’m certain have experienced the random, unexplainable swings and sudden, severe lows that they produce. Despite these experiences I did surmise that the need for a lower 2 hour post meal blood sugar was essential to losing that sleepy, groggy feeling or those horrible nasty, lay on the floor/ground and go to sleep events or eating Fruit to Go every hour lifestyle I had become accustomed to . Also, that simple carbs & lots of carbs wrecked havoc on those results. Not many prepared or packaged foods had labels yet and books were not readily available providing me with info to carb count whole foods. Estimating ‘carbs’ was very difficult. To confess, I didn’t know how to count carbs until my son Kurtis was diagnosed in 2000. I was still counting exchanges or closing my eyes and pointing at numbers otherwise. Prior to Kurtis diagnosis I learned that certain doses of Humulin R worked for certain foods.
Several interview papers, links and studies have suggested there are a limited number of teens, young and middle aged women living with Type 1 diabetes that could be diagnosed with eating disorders which involve binging or purging, but it is suggested the likelihood of such is twice as high with teens and women living with Type 1 diabetes and that there is certainly a higher incidence of manipulating diet and/or insulin dose to keep weight at a level deemed as ‘admirable’. Unfortunately, it is being researched that such behaviour is linked to higher risk of complications such as retinopathy.
Based on what I had experienced with my weight & glycemic control here is what I did: I restricted simple and complex carb (wheat, grains, high GI fruits and veggies) (my reference was Richard K. Bernstein who has Type 1 and went to Medical school to learn more about his) so that my total daily intake was at a certain amount. That amount was determined according to my goal. I had 4 guidelines: (1) lose weight (I would keep my TDD below 21 units (2) maintain weight (I would keep my TDD between 22 – 25 units) (3) maintain and/or risk gaining cause I just wanted to be ‘normal’ and ‘cheat’ (26 – 29 units) (4) I didn’t care anymore, I was tired, worked too many hours, overwhelmed with my son’s T1 diabetes, my BG‘s & diabetes control, having meals on the table on time to get my children to their activities on time and working shift work and subsequently daytime hours but more than 40 hours/week. Interestingly, I rarely ever went above 40 units even when I didn’t track.
Approximately 9 years ago I decided I was going to try and become vegetarian. I had read Brendan Frazier’s book on being a Tri-Athelete and his succeeding despite being such and thought I’d give it a try. I loved that way of eating. I don’t recall a lot of how I did it. Even my BG’s do not stand out in my mind. I just know I lost weight and I felt incredible. Not a ton though. I’ve never been big, just soft at times BUT…my body never looked so good. I wasn’t skinny (like when I had my tonsils taken out at 32), I was cut, lean and muscular. I have a pic. I am so proud of it cause I knew I ate well but, unfortunately, I also became anemic! Then, one weekend after I started feeling so cold, tired and short of breathe from my symptoms of anemia I craved to have a hamburger, white bun and all….and it just continued. And the lean, cut muscular Tracy disappeared.
I would go in waves of “don’t care what I eat” to “I have to strictly adhere to ‘this'”…whatever what “this” was.
Despite my dietary experimentation, throughout these years, I participated in many activities & sports to keep myself healthy. The main reason being, upon an Insurance physical in my mid 20’s after having my two babies, my Family Doc had me do 20 steps up and down on the ‘step’ to the examine table. I lost my breathe!!! He & I were both appalled. He bluntly told me I needed to get ‘in shape’, if not for me then for my children. From then on, I was in one form of activity or another. The ‘activities’ I have found most beneficial are weights 2 – 3 x per week plus 30 – 60 minutes cardio (running, walking, elliptical, biking, stairs) 5-6x/week. In our fast paced lifestyle of today, I find stretching of great benefit too. I also felt it was essential to be an example to my children with regards to how important physical activity was with or without diabetes. (I have one with, one without Type 1)
So…why I write this. And the ‘ah ha’ moment. I think best if I number the events that surround this…
1. In Feb 2011 I was separated after a 22 year marriage and 2 wonderful children.
2. In April 2011 my position at the company I worked at, that would provide me the income I needed to live independently, was eliminated.
3. I lost 15 pounds. (not intentional of course, it was not healthy nor did it look good, my hip bones stuck out, my size 6 pants were falling off and my friends commented I had no ‘bum’)
4. Shortly after I visited my wonderful Endo who weighed me and was very, very concerned. I had a good cry with him and he reassured me that if I just remembered to eat I would put my weight back on.
5. I put the weight back on and 5 lbs more! I fell in love. Crazy what love does with wining and dining!
6. I visited my Endo again and he is happy with my weight…I am not. He is concerned I am not satisfied. He sternly tells me that there should absolutely be no carb cutting on my behalf. He educates me (although I already knew!) that my BMI, although 26, is good because I am quite muscular for my height. Each subsequent visit he asks me my TDD and if I am eating carbs. But I had determined through my past experience with carbs and how I ate them that they do not marry well with my post meal BG’s and weight. I am conflicted. I know if I get back on the weights & cardio I can tone up and lose AND my post meals will rock with the absence of most carbs but my Endo wants me to keep on some carbs. SO… I have been experimenting (again) which leads me to my next point….
I am a HUGE fan of Oxygen magazine. I have been for years. I have a few of Tosca Reno‘s books & cookbooks. I think the institution that Robert Kennedy produced is respectable and admirable. As I read more, I understand that women can eat 4 – 6 meals/day (Clean Eating of course!), participate in weights and cardio but not to the point of hours in the gym each day (which is appropriate to our lifestyle today) and look amazing. The mandate is 80% Clean Eating, 10% exercise, 10% genetics. BUT…I struggled. All those Clean Eaters that looked incredible seemed ‘normal’ and I reasoned they glowed and were toned because they didn’t have diabetes. They were not Tracy living with T1 or the likes of anyone living with Type 1 diabetes. I made only select recipes to try from the cookbooks or mags. In my mind they had to have at least 5g of fiber and/or carbs around 20 – 30. Anymore than that and I turned my nose up. In my mind I thought…they need to eliminate the idea of making sure to combine a complex carb and protein with every snack and meal. How selfish to not think of us who have the weight issues and complexities of such a disease as Type 1.
Then…came along a post I saw on Facebook just about month ago. (see most recent pic of Krista who lives with Type 1 and her post of Eating Clean & Type 1 on my Blog)
I read Krista Presotto’s post to Oxygen on Facebook and it gave me hope. After several emails back and forth Krista reassured me Eating Clean was okay and beneficial with Type 1. Through her inspirational post my journey has started. Throughout the past few weeks of beginning this new relationship with combining complex carbs (I love quinoa! and had rice for supper for the first time in years!) and protein I am astounded.
I lost 5 lbs in one week! I believe it was a result letting go of one or both of the following;
1. Starving myself because I was too busy to eat and thinking I was on an insulin pump that was okay
2. Eating with too much or too little thought. I was an extreme eater.
What I have found is if I eat a combo of complex carb and protein every 2 – 3 hours, now that my body has learned it ‘deserves’ that, if the time frame goes beyond that, I am starving!!! (I’ve learned that’s a good thing…my metabolism is on high drive if I am adequately hydrated & nourished). Also, my sugars for about 80 % of the time are within target! I also have less low’s Eating Clean.
Yes, it takes a bit more planning and forethought but given the benefits I have had with the small efforts I have had to put in, I am more than motivated to keep going.
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 I dare you to try it! If you do…I want to hear your story, good and not so good…
Investigate, research…live your life with diabetes beyond borders.