Monday, April 23, 2012

Interpretation, Definition and Stubbornness

Health Activist Choice Day 2! Write about whatever you like.

Carbohydrates.  If you had asked me 7 years ago what a carbohydrate was I’m not sure I would have been able to answer.  How many carbs should someone eat in a day?  HellifIknow. I just wasn’t paying attention.  If you were someone who followed the government’s food pyramid you would think that, in order to eat a healthy diet, you should be eating a boat-load of grains as a base and work your way up to a wee bit of fat.

The government has replaced the pyramid with MyPlate:


 In my opinion, this plate makes a lot more sense, but for someone with diabetes there are still a lot of carbs on that plate (grains and fruits and dairy). The American Diabetes Association website says, “A place to start is at about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at a meal.” At the high end, with snacks, you’re looking at about 200g of carbs per day.  We are trained early on that we need to be eating a higher level of carbs, but as PWD we need to limit carb intake.  So what is a person to do?

If you spend much time on diabetes forums you will soon realize that there are numerous ideas on what we should be eating.  If carbs are mentioned, and they always are, the ensuing debate can get nasty.  Much like politics and religion, there are varying ideas on how many carbs someone should eat when they have diabetes and people can be very passionate about what they believe.

I was turned off quite early by the idea of eating a low carb diet.  When I tried to figure out why that is, I came up with a couple of things: 1. I don’t like the idea of being restricted. 2. I heard the phrase much too often “all you have to do is eat this way and you’ll be fine.” That really gets under my skin….a lot.  I’ve mentioned in my blog previously how my first husband would tell me that “all I had to do” to lose weight was “do this” and it had the opposite effect on me.  The more he pushed it, the more I resisted.  I feel the same way when it comes to dealing with my diabetes.  I’m stubborn.

It took me quite a while but I’ve finally come around to the realization that I do indeed need to cut back on my carb intake in order to better control my diabetes.  (Don’t judge me.)  During this learning process I got to wondering, what exactly is low carb?

Wikipedia: “There is no widely accepted definition of what precisely constitutes a low-carbohydrate diet. It is important to note that the level of carbohydrate consumption defined as low-carbohydrate by medical researchers may be different from the level of carbohydrate defined by diet advisors.” “The American Academy of Family Physicians defines low-carbohydrate diets as diets that restrict carbohydrate intake to 20g to 60g per day.”

20g-60g per day?  Wow, compared to the ADA recommendation…  There are a lot of people out there who are eating less than 30g of carbs per day.  They have nearly wiped out most of the carbs from their diet and are eating more protein and fat and are aiming for extremely tight control of their glucose.  Some have completely removed grains and fruit from their diets.  (I can understand why since 1 slice of whole wheat bread packs 18g of carbs.I applaud those folks who can follow this food plan and be happy, however, trying to follow such a strict diet just doesn’t appeal to me. But that’s me. 

I am currently eating approximately 100g of carbs per day, which I call moderate, and have been seeing some great glucose readings most of the time.  I’m losing weight.  My energy level is good.  I’m happy.

Every person with diabetes needs to seek out the food plan that works for them.  I can’t say that often enough.  It’s between us and our glucose meters.  Listen to what that little machine has to say and do something with the information.  Don’t listen to someone else telling you what you should be eating!  Interpretation and definition: when it comes to how we eat, as PWD, we all interpret and define what level of carbs we require.  Don’t be stubborn like I was.  Care enough about yourself to test, adjust and test again until you find a food plan that works for you.  

I’m participating in Wego Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  I’m posting every day in April.  #HAWMC




  1. This is a really thoughtful treatment of the carb topic. I avoid thinking about it beyond estimating carbs for bolus purposes. Probably I should give it a little more thought!

  2. Tee hee "it's between me and my glucose meter" well and your endo that downloads it. Im not a pwd but I am a pwcwd and thus I pay close attention to carbs and I do TRY to limit them for our whole family. I too don't want others telling me what I should be eating or feeding my kids. I do my best and always strive for better. That's all I can do. Great post!

  3. great topic Kate. most people without D don't know what a carb is and don't care. the Canadian Diabetes Assoc. has plates that are divided into 3 portion, 1 half of the plate for vegetable, then the other half divided into 2 for starches(carbs) and protiens. they take these out to visit newly diagnosed T2's to introduce them to an easier way to eat healthy. i remember being on a 2400calorie/day diabetic diet way back when i was diagnosed. i couldn't even begin to imagine eating that much food now. i try to keep it at less than 100g of carbs a day. and i stress TRY!


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