Making the Case for Low Carb Diets
Sometimes, I've learned, the most obvious facts are the most challenging to grasp. I've recently had an epiphany regarding my diet and blood sugar management...eat fewer carbohydrates to more easily control blood sugar. Revolutionary, I know.
The thing is, since I was diagnosed there seemed to be a focus on "eating normally" and "covering meals" accurately with insulin. I knew that carbohydrates were the main culprit in blood sugar spikes, but the solution seemed to be more insulin rather than fewer carbs. My mindset shifted during two pregnancies when my carbohydrate intake was carefully monitored. It occurred to me that this low carbohydrate diet might be the trick to keeping my blood sugars and my weight controlled on a long term basis.
So far, I have to report that eating a low carbohydrate diet has been amazing for me. I'm able to eat fewer calories, have a much lower standard deviation in my blood sugars, lose weight, and not be hungry. Also, now that I've gotten the refined flour and sugar out of my diet, I don't even crave it. Whereas I'd planned to have a "treat" once a week, I'm finding myself not wanting to indulge because the cravings will resume for a few days afterwards.
I used to be quite frustrated that my weight loss efforts (lots of exercise) seemed to be constantly derailed by diabetes. Typically my workouts would be followed by hypoglycemic episodes which led me to consume extra calories, thereby undoing the calorie deficit I'd earned by exercising. On some level I thought that weight loss was impossible for diabetics.
By eating fewer carbohydrates, I am able to bolus fewer units of insulin which means less episodes of low blood sugar. For example, a breakfast of cereal or refined flour (like a scone or bagel) would require 4-6 units of insulin. There's a lot of room for miscalculation of the insulin dose whenever large amounts of carbohydrate are consumed. I'd often end up with low blood sugar (leading to more calorie consumption) or a high blood sugar (thus requiring a correction bolus, which could then lead to a low blood sugar). Not only did I suffer the physical strain of these yo-yoing blood sugars, but also the mental energy spent wondering about insulin dosage, blood sugar level, etc.
In contrast when I eat asparagus and eggs for breakfast (one of my favorites!), the insulin dose is only 1 unit or less, depending on my pre-meal blood sugar. Since neither the vegetable nor eggs will have a significant impact on my blood sugar, I don't worry about high blood sugar. Since I'm giving myself such a small dose of insulin, I don't have to worry about a low blood sugar episode. Also, I feel fuller because of the protein in the eggs. All in all, I'm able to enjoy my food and then focus on something besides insulin, food, and diabetes for awhile. It's awesome.