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.