Monday, February 18, 2013

Some thoughts on recommended diabetes food plans



This post is mostly directed to those of us with type 2 who don’t use insulin.  I completely understand that people who use fast-acting insulin have the ability to adjust their insulin to meet the carb load.  However, I also feel that it would be in the best interest of all people with diabetes to reduce their carb intake.  Remember, I’m not a doctor.

I have very specific ideas about what I can and will eat to control my diabetes.  Repeat my diabetes.  Because of this, I often get cranky when I read some of the recommendations touted by reputable websites about what people with diabetes should be eating.  The thing that makes me cranky is the boatload of carbs being recommended.  1 cup 1% milk, 1 orange, medium and 1 1/2 cups Cheerios cereal for breakfast?  Really?? That would send my blood glucose through the roof!  The same thing goes for “diabetes friendly” recipes that show the serving size is the size of a postage stamp.  Let’s get real; no one would eat just 1 serving.

I still get emotional about this when I see it online but I’ve recently had a change of heart, to some degree.  (I think this comes from starting the support group here in my town.)  The reality is that some people who are newly diagnosed have been used to eating upwards of 200 grams of carbohydrates per meal and the idea that they can miraculously reduce that carb intake to 35 grams is ludicrous at best. 

Let’s look at a typical trip to McDonald’s.  Big Mac – 46 gr carbs, large fries – 63 gr of carbs and a large Coke – 86 gr of carbs = 195 grams of carbs.  (information from McDonald's) Wow.  (We aren’t even going to discuss fat and sodium.)  This meal is consumed by an awful lot of people in this country on a regular basis.  Now, compare that to a recommended meal for someone with diabetes.  3 oz. 90%-lean hamburger patty, 1 cup 1% milk – 12.2 gr carbs, 1 whole-wheat roll – 21 gr carbs , 1 cup prepared coleslaw – 15 gr carbs = 48.2 grams of carbs. (approximations by Kate) 195 vs 48.  Enlightening no?  I wouldn’t eat that recommended diabetes meal now.  I’d lose the roll and not drink the milk.  But that’s me and I didn’t get here overnight!

This epiphany has gotten me to thinking that it makes sense to recommend a carb intake of 200 grams of carbs per day to a newly diagnosed person who is used to eating much, much more than that.  However, I think “the system” falls horribly short after that.  A food plan that includes that many carbs should not be “the new way of life” but should be considered a transitional food plan.  I feel that the nutritional community isn’t doing our rapidly growing diabetes community any good by continuing to recommend whole grains and other carb-heavy foods in the quantities that they do.  There should be a step-down program.  Patients should be encouraged to wean themselves from unhealthy amounts of carbohydrates over a period of time until they are consuming an amount that agrees with their meter.  They should replace those carbs with healthier choices like lots of vegetables and lean meats.

Asking someone to dramatically change their way of eating overnight isn’t a good thing to do, in my opinion.  However, I think it’s also harmful to let people assume that it’s ok to go on eating at that carb level when their meters don’t agree.  I think our education of people with diabetes is sorely lacking and needs a major overhaul.

I understand things a bit better now but I think there is much more work to be done.  People need to be made aware of the importance of eating a healthy diet and I think our country’s idea of a healthy diet needs tweaking.  I wish I could make the world understand how important it is to reduce carb intake in order to attempt to control diabetes and help keep it at bay.  I can’t.  I’m just one person, but I’m a person with a voice and I intend to use it any way I can.  I feel more letters to politicians coming in my future.

16 comments:

  1. True. Each one has their own diabetes. One person's choice of diet cannot work for the other.

    Listening to one's body is necessary, before cutting down too many carbs.I lowered carbs to ridiculous levels and my ears started pounding.I had to eat some to bring balance.

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    1. I know what you mean. Last summer I drastically cut back on my carb intake and did ok but felt deprived. Now I eat roughly 80-100 grams per day. Everyone has to find their own carb level.

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  2. I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission. what is diabetes

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    1. Thanks Fred, I think. I'm not sure which information in my blog post you are questioning. The recommended meals came directly from a publication found on DiabeticConnect.com. The nutrition information for McD's came from McD's and I swagged the carb counts for the other meals by using online resources. The rest of my post is my opinion. I was sure to preface this post with a disclaimer that says I'm not a doctor.

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  3. After 2 years of T2 and eating low carb, I have no 'pounding' in my ears or any other problems. But maybe that's just me. I do, however, have completely normal blood sugars. I started this journey off thinking, "What a nightmare, a lifetime of deprivation, why can't I just eat normal food?" Now, with a bit of ingenuity, hard work, and, admittedly, the time and resources to cook – a lot – I rarely feel deprived. In addition to my everyday meals, I make myself delicious bread, pancakes, muffins, scones, cakes, ice cream and desserts that I can enjoy any time. I have basically discovered a lot of cool things to replace the junk and processed food I used to call "normal." I don't even test my blood sugar anymore because there's no point – it's always normal. I've put a lot of effort into recreating an appropriate food environment for myself that I find totally satisfying. And I hope to remain med free as long as possible.

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    1. Anna, that is nothing short of awesome! Congratulations, you are an inspiration.

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  4. Hi Kate, I'm new to your site. Thank you so much for your voice of reason. It is wonderful to know another PWD, who thinks similar to me. I was recently diagnosed and have brought my levels into normal in just over 3 months. I refuse to accept the "life sentence" mentality. No hardship on my part (except the occassional craving.) So glad I found you!

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    1. Hi "Muse"! I'm glad you found my blog and can appreciate what I have to say. Good for you for taking charge of your health!

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  5. Loved this post. I too get frustrated by the recommended diets. I have also noticed that most diabetes literature is loaded with ads from drug companies. Hmmmmm, wonder why they want us to go ahead and have that roll.

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    1. Thanks Gina. Yes, you do need to pay attention to where the diet information is coming from but I also think the whole idea of "healthy eating" needs to be tweaked, especially for those of us who have T2.

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  6. I think too they need to think about the diet they recommend to pre-diabetics. I was told to go on the low GI diet to avoid diabetes, since I was already eating that I upped the bread and carb intake, and of course very quickly became a diabetic. As a T2 diabetic I followed the diet the dietitian explained to me and battled high numbers and a CDE who thought I was not following my diet and upset me so much I refused to go any more. Then I discovered low carb eating and a whole new world opened up to me.

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    1. You know, Maureen, that's a really good point about pre-diabetics! It's frustrating for me since I'm not formally educated. I'm not a doctor and I haven't had nutritional training, but DANG, even lil 'ol me can see that there is something wrong with this picture! I wish I knew what to do to get someone's attention.

      I'm glad that you finally figured out what works best for you!

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  7. Thanks for your honesty and authenticity! I was just diagnosed with Type 2 and am overwhelmed by the amount of information on what I should or should not be doing that may or may not be right for me.

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    1. Hang in there Yvonne! You are not alone in how you're feeling right now. Seeking out information on your own is a great first step! The diabetes road can be bumpy but you'll do just fine if you stay focused. Nice to "meet" you!

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. I'm a newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic that's struggling with my glucose levels. I found most low sugar recipes are still loaded with carbohydrates. Most no sugar convenience foods have more carbohydrates compared to the full sugar alternatives. It's like Damned if I do and Damned if I don't. I avoid sugar at all cost but the carbs wreck havoc on any chance at a normal blood sugar. I try to avoid carbohydrates as much as possible but everything contains carbs. My caloric intake is minimal because I'm afraid to eat, as a result I'm losing weight. I'm glad I found your blog.

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