Living With Type 1 Diabetes: Counting Carbs & Dodging Gluten

As a person with type 1 diabetes, I thought it was annoying enough to read every food label for the carb count. Somehow I always end up tearing open the package right where the carb count is listed and then trying to piece it back together to see how much insulin I need to counteract whatever I’m planning to inhale. Now I need to find out if there is gluten in the items I want to eat, and the label reading has gone from an annoyance to downright maddening.

Did you know that approximately 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also live with Celiac Disease? My doctors think that there is a strong possibility that I have celiac, which is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself, targeting the lining of your small intestine. I had been having weird symptoms for a long time including severe joint pain, sinus problems, acid reflux, and even skin issues. When my doctors discovered anemia, we found out that celiac disease was a likely culprit. A good number of my type 1 friends also have it. I kicked and screamed a bit about having to give up gluten, but knew that I had no choice.

I miss my teenage days of being able just to eat what I wanted without a second thought about the package. I also miss my recent days of not having to panic about gluten. Still, I know it’s important to manage my diabetes and my gluten issues, and I’m all in, despite all the drama.

While I am so thankful for those stores that have the “Gluten-Free” tags on their shelves to help point me to the items I can have without too much label inspecting involved, I am finding myself spending a small fortune on the new gluten-free diet. Gluten-free products are crazy-expensive! I look for coupons on the items I want and only buy one of each item until I know that I like it. I’ve seen quite a few coupons for gluten-free products on the website www.coupons.com. Of course their coupon rotation changes often so you have to visit frequently to catch them as they become available.

I think the most frustrating part of the food labels I’m reading is that many companies won’t print the words “gluten-free” on their labels, even if the items are gluten-free. I get it. They are worried about a lawsuit and don’t want to commit to the words printed on their labels. Still, this makes it so much harder to figure out what I can eat. Many companies also say that their products don’t contain gluten but then mention that the items are made in facilities that also process wheat. How much do I need to worry about cross contamination at these places?

I never thought I’d miss just reading the carb counts on food labels. Boy, was I wrong. I keep telling myself that just like my diabetes, things will get easier the longer I’m gluten-free. I’ll know what foods are safe gluten-free choices just the way I know what foods are safe low carb choices. Years of experience somehow makes everything easier.

2 thoughts on “Living With Type 1 Diabetes: Counting Carbs & Dodging Gluten”

  1. I agree, counting carbs is sometimes hard enough. Then you add allergans and gluten to avoid, it just complicates our eating habits. And now I have been hearing that not just grains with gluten, but most grains in general can aggravate autoimmune disease. Grrr

  2. I don’t know where you live–but here in CA we have a chain called Grocery Outlet which sells stock from closed stores, manufacturer’s over-production and a huge amount of gluten free products.

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