by Cindy Lou, Person with Type 2 Diabetes since 2015
I learned early on after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes that on the internet, there are many different eating approaches for diabetes… plus a LOT that claim to be cures, even though there is no cure!
Over time, I’ve realized that a science-based diet is what works best for me. I tried the ultra low carb Keto diet the first few months and watched my LDL cholesterol soar. Online I was told that was fine; however, my endocrinologist, my primary physician, my dietitian and a cardiologist assured me that it wasn’t fine. Our LDL needs to be under 100, and mine was most definitely not, so I knew I needed to make a change.
A Balanced Approach to Food
I chose to move to a more science-based eating approach, eating 35-45 grams of carbs per meal. My diet centered around fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, all in the right proportion. This video explains the way I eat best. This approach is much easier for me, because no food is off-limits in proper serving size. It is also much better for my health. In three months time on this type of diet, I dropped my LDL cholesterol 100 points, my triglycerides over 150 points and still lost weight at the exact same rate as I had on the other diet.
This diet doesn’t leave my body lacking essential nutrients from all food groups, and my blood work reflects that as well. My vitamin D went from a REALLY low 3, back to normal range in 3 months, and my complete blood vitamin panel came into range as well. I lost 70 pounds in 10 months which put me in my ideal weight range for the first time in years!! My biggest lesson has been just how much I can control my blood work by asking my dietitian what to do regarding different issues I see in my lab blood work results
With whole foods and a well-balanced diet, my cravings stopped. My taste buds changed in just two short weeks and are now much happier with clean eating. I was also able to come off my antacid type meds after the change to this diet. Grocery shopping got lots simpler and less expensive as well. I shop mainly produce, frozen foods with no additives, meats and some dairy. Occasionally, I use some canned bean items just to make life simpler and food prep less time consuming on a busy day. I always rinse those though, to get rid of added salt before I prepare them.
Healthy Eating Is The Same For Everybody
For me, healthy eating is the same for every person, regardless of whether or not they have diabetes. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are the key to a healthy diet for everyone. I think the most enlightening thing for me was realizing that a serving size printed on a box or served in a restaurant, most of the time is not what a dietitian would recommend as the serving size for most people.
I also found that there is no reason for us as type 2’s to feel hungry or deprived. It’s all a matter of counting our carbs, making wise food choices and switching foods regularly to keep our taste buds entertained with new flavors. I like to use different colors of vegetables at mealtimes so I am maximizing vitamin and nutrient content. I eat a minimum of 5 non-starchy vegetable servings per day. At least 2 starch vegetable servings per day and 2 fruits. I always pick recipes that give me the best serving size for my carbs. Most importantly, I enjoy food.
Find a Dietitian!
To me, a good dietitian is the most important tool in my diabetic tool box. I adore my dietitian. She has taught me how to alter several family recipes to make them healthier, so that I can still have my favorite foods.
For me and many other diabetics, there seems to be a lack of help from our primary physicians in getting us to a dietitian soon after diagnosis. I don’t think they realize that Type 2s will choose control if given the tools and education, so if you are like I was my first few months and feeling lost in how to control, here are my tips on finding a dietitian:
If you are insured, call the number on the back of your card and ask if you need a doctor’s referral for them to pay for a dietitian appointment. If not, ask them for help in finding one. Also ask about any programs you qualify for through your insurance. Most insurance companies have a specialty nurse that will call you and help, some even have dietitians that will help by phone and some offer gym membership discounts.
If you are not insured, call your local and regional Health Department to find free diabetes classes. Your health department can tell you about any active diabetes support groups in your area and whether there are any Diabetes Expos (usually a yearly event) or other diabetes-related events in your area.
It’s possible to be healthy with diabetes while also eating delicious food that you enjoy. I certainly do, and I know that you can too. Good luck! And here is the link to my Grandmother’s Vegetable Soup recipe that my dietitian reworked for me. (Nutrition Facts are included with the recipe.)
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