This is My Carbohydrate Story
Carbohydrates, carbohydrates — the villain in our diabetic story.
I remember the early part of my T1D days. Everything was “SUGAR” (or the “white devil” as I call it).
You can’t have that Eva, it has sugar.
Count the grams of sugar on the label!
Can you have natural sugar?
What is the difference between sugar-free and no sugar added?
I am not allowed to eat sugar.
Thankfully in this day-in-age we understand that it is a carbohydrate that counts. In case you aren’t privy to this information I will break it down for you in a super simple way. Every Carbohydrate turns into sugar. So if you take a piece of bread (10 carbs) and add a tablespoon of sugar to it (15 carbs) guess what? You actually have 25 grams of sugar not 15 because the carbohydrates turn into sugar. Yes there are different kinds of carbs meaning a piece of white bread turns into sugar much quicker than oatmeal. So the oatmeal won’t raise your blood sugar as fast but guess what? You still have to cover for it.
I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 6. In my early years I was under tight control thanks to my mother. I was also a kid and did what I was told so when they said I couldn’t have sugar I didn’t eat it. I would only have sugar when I was low and I would savor every single bite. Things changed as I got older.
When I was about 15 my blood sugars were out of control. I remember a nutritionist telling me I could not eat carbs. I asked her what carbs are. She explained that they are foods like bread, candy and fruit. I looked at her and said: “So you are telling me I can basically only eat veggies and meat?” I walked out of there and just accepted that I would never have control over my blood sugars.
When I was 21 I tried the big diet craze – Atkins. I was in heaven thinking about endless amounts of cheese, chicken salad and well… basically cheese and chicken salad. I figured I wasn’t eating sugar so I should have great blood sugars. I stopped testing and barely gave myself insulin. This lasted about a week. I was hospitalized with my first and last case of ketoacidosis. It was horrible to say the least and I vowed to never get it again. After that I moved onto the South Beach Diet because it had some carbs. I made sure to test myself and give myself the proper amount of insulin. Once again I wound up in the hospital. I actually didn’t have diabetic ketoacidosis but I had the same symptoms. After that I told myself I would never go low carb again!
I remember telling people throughout the years why I wouldn’t go on low carb diets. “They can kill me!” I would say. I was very passionate about it. I had no desire to reduce my carbs. In fact, it was the opposite – i ate high carb – in fact most times carbs were the only thing i ate. Why? Because I was STARVING! During this time I was at the height of my disordered crash diet, binge cycle that would last over 15 years. (Read about that here) Plus I really thought carbs were good (don’t be too hard on me – it was the early-mid 2000’s when carbs ruled!) I tried carb counting but I found it to be hard and tedious so I gave up on that and continued guesstimating my insulin for years.
Fast forward to 4 years ago when I started to recover from my disordered eating. I was feeling great, eating clean, taking in the calories my body needs AND I had energy. I was eating protein, carbs and healthy fats. I felt like I was finally getting it right but I knew I wasn’t quite there yet because i still didn’t have full control over my sugars. About 2 years ago I started researching carbs and diabetes and knew I had no place to go but down —- in carbs!
I started following people like Vinnie Tortorich and Stephanie Keto Person. I also read Dr. Bernstein’s book called the “Diabetes Solution”. First I cut out grains then slowly but surly I went down, waaaaay down to less than 20 carbs a day. (Please note: I did this very slowly and carefully with many low blood sugars – it wasn’t easy). This was not good for me. Yes my blood sugars were easier to control and I was only giving myself 5-8 units of Lantus a day and 6 units of Humulog but i SUFFERED. This goes down as the worst time in my life – i was TIRED, I was LETHARGIC and I was MOODY. People say that if you are doing low carb correctly and getting everything you need you wont feel like this but I was eating healthy, taking supplements and using MCT oil. I was only getting my 20 carbs from some veggies. Oh and to top it off I didn’t even lose weight – nada!
After this I stopped low carbing. I took a while off and then I went back to the drawing board. At this point I truly found my balance. A balance where I can have a fruit or a piece of chocolate. I now eat a diet of 2,300 calories a day (My TDEE) and around 150 carbs a day – sounds like a lot? Its not – just look at my posts. I used to eat well over 200 carbs a day. Want to hear the crazy part? I don’t miss any of those carbs because I am nourished and SATISFIED. Because I get my full amount of calories and enjoy everything I eat I don’t feel any urges to binge or overeat. If I want something I either find a low carb recipe or figure out a low carb recipe. I also get to eat things I love like cream cheese, butter and PEANUT BUTTER! The icing on the cake is my blood sugars! They are better than ever. Because I keep the amount of carbs I eat the same at every snack and every meal its so much easier for me to maintain control. Even though every day is still different – consistency is definitely key when it comes to maintaining blood sugars. To me thats the secret. I eat around 40 carbs at breakfast lunch and Dinner. Around 8-15 carbs per snack. I say I am low-mid carb since I am not a super low carb or ketogenic.
In the end its up to you to find your balance. There are many people I have seen and read about that thrive on ketogenic diets but I am not one of them. I am happy with the way I look, feel and most importantly with my blood sugars. I am not saying I never cheat because I do but I am not perfect and this blog is not about being perfect.
Thank you so much for reading my story <3