By: Meagan Esler
I heart carbohydrates, and sometimes, I hate carbohydrates.
I think part of my love/hate relationship with food goes back to the days just before my diagnosis of type 1 as a teenager. At 18 years old, I was suddenly eating everything in sight as the hunger from my high blood sugar, due to undiagnosed diabetes, kicked in. I lost more and more weight and became skin and bones, regardless of all the extra food I was eating. Something was wrong.
Enter my type 1 diabetes diagnosis. I was in shock. Every time I ate I felt as though I was being punished as I watched my blood sugars continue to rise. I began limiting carbs like they were poison and exercising like a fiend to try to combat the glaring high blood sugars on my glucose meter.
At first the doctors didn’t know if I was a type 1 or type 2, so they tried giving me pills to lower my blood sugar. This didn’t work and since I didn’t understand diabetes yet, I thought limiting my food to cheese, eggs, and lettuce would help fix me right up. I couldn’t have been more wrong and by the time the doctor figured out I needed insulin I had such a hate relationship with food that it was hard to get back to normal eating.
I felt so deprived during that time that even today, 18 years later, I panic at the thought of having to restrict my diet too much. I freak out if someone tries to take away my carbs, like a dog protecting its bone. It happened once, after all, and it was a very difficult and confusing period of my life.
Ironically enough, my husband restricts his carbs. He doesn’t have diabetes, but he feels that it helps him stay at a healthy weight along with his daily exercise. As a person with diabetes it’s funny to watch a person without diabetes counting their carbs. Sometimes I want to point at him and yell “Imposter!” Thankfully he has a good sense of humor because I may have done this once or twice.
I have to admit, his way of eating has helped me improve mine. I do acknowledge the fact that carbs aren’t evil and that they may get a bad rap, but they’ve actually saved my life more times than I can count. I simply try to choose what carbs are important to me and to limit the others. If I’m going to take insulin for it, then in my opinion it should be worthy of that shot.
While I don’t eat a diet super low in carbs, I do try to choose smart carbs. For example, I have a breakfast smoothie that helps me add fruit and healthy protein into my diet early in the day. This helps me make better choices throughout the day and I am noticeably less hungry late mornings than I used to be. I use unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk so I can enjoy adding fruit without worrying about too many carbs.
I’m trying to heal my food issues and feel good about the way I eat. I am glad to have the choice today to eat the carbs I choose to. Insulin gave me back some of the normalcy that I took for granted before my diagnosis, and for that I am forever thankful.