Low carb and me

I don’t do low carb. I try to on most days, but it’s not a lifestyle diet I can maintain right now.

I’ve connected with a lot of diabetics around the globe and one ‘helpful piece of advice’ that gets thrown at me all the time is “go low carb!”. Every time I have to politely tell them “That’s not an option for me right now, sorry” and hope that they won’t pester (bully) me into accepting this choice of diet.

Let me break it down in a few simple points.

  1. I am bound to a very tight budget. I have €30-40 a week to buy all the groceries I need, which is more than just food. Cat litter and cat food, toiletries, household items like cleaning supplies and anything else you can imagine that are needed on a weekly basis. It doesn’t get you a whole lot when everything is added up, and there are choices to make. Sometimes the carb rich junk food is cheaper than the fresh plants and proteins that are the better options. Meat isn’t cheap. I don’t eat pork so I’m down to chicken and beef – both expensive meats if you can’t get them on sale. I buy according to whatever is discounted most of the time, and the fresh, healthy alternatives are very often not included (or items that I can’t stomach). Healthy food is expensive where I live. (To illustrate, I can get two cheese or chicken burger that you reheat in the microwave, buns and cheese included, for just a little over €1 a pair. That €1 combo counts as two whole meals to me. Do the math when two pieces of chicken breast cost almost €4.)
  2. My diabetes doesn’t play nice. I caught my type LADA early, and my pancreas throws random insulin parties and I have to bring all the carby snacks because nobody else will. I can’t do without my basal insulin which my values and day curves are testimony to, along with my general sense of feeling healthier, and I can’t do without 40-60 grams of carbs in a meal when my glucose level decides to drop to 3.0 because of my body’s own insulin production. Low carbing is something I strive for on days that my glucose runs high, but as long as I am still riding my (very long) honeymoon wave, it’s not something I can faithfully and consistently pull off. And that should be okay. 

I understand the many benefits of the diet, but we’re all different. Everyone has unique needs and I’m so frustrated that, within a community where ‘individual needs’ are at the front of all treatment and diet methods, this is so easily disregarded when it comes to giving advice about low carbing.

When you have been T1D for 15+ years and your insulin production is zero, then low carbing means lower/less insulin injections are necessary to meet your body’s needs. That just doesn’t work for me. It will one day, but not right now. I am frustrated that my weight problems and dietary choices are somehow turned into a blame game of me not doing something right, when I’m doing the best I possibly can. I can’t inject less insulin and exercise without eating heaps of crackers because of the way my body works. If you’re the kind of person who advocates low carb, that’s alright, but please be considerate of who you advocate to. Understand that my issues happen to others as well.

Be less judgmental and less eager to preach, and take some more time to listen and consider in silence.


5 thoughts on “Low carb and me

  1. Interesting post. I am not diabetic but my diet is very lo carb <30g/ day & I have read about plenty of T1D sufferers managing v well on lo carb and reducing daily insulin considerably as a result. As you say, we are all different but do you have any major issues managing your weight at all? Thx.

    • I do struggle with my weight, yes. I need to lose but I’m stuck despite usually being in a caloric deficit with biking 5 times a week on average (main method of transport).

      The difference between me and most other T1Ds who were diagnosed in childhood is that I don’t have full control over my insulin levels. I’m a type LADA (http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes_lada.html) and still produce my own insulin in sufficient enough amounts that I don’t need to take insulin during meals. However, I do need long lasting insulin (basal) to manage my glucose levels between meals and during the night, as I’d otherwise wake up with high values.

      The downside for me is that low carbing can result in potentially lethal hypos. My combination of medication and my body’s own irregular production (which I can’t control) leads to random bouts of high insulin release, sometimes during exercise, which means I need to have a sufficiently high amounts of carbs to avoid falling unconscious. The T1Ds you refer to probably have an insulin production of close to zero, so they are in full control and can low carb without negative side effects as they can determine the amount of insulin through injections.

      I will reach that point somewhere in the future as well, but I wasn’t diagnosed until 26, two years ago, and my ‘honeymoon period’ of insulin production could last another 10 years.

      I really would like to go low carb because I get the impression it will help massively with weight loss, but right now I can’t do it safely.

      • Aaah ok. All makes sense now and thanks for the clarification. 😉 So as I understand it, you’re currently stuck in a kind of “insulin limbo”, neither fully normal nor fully T1D?! Very awkward! In that sense I can understand why being fully T1D is way more manageable than your current predicament. You learn something new every day..

        I wish you all the best with your endeavours 🙂

        • Awkward is the right word! 😛 I like the term “insulin limbo”, I think I will use that from now on.

          Glad I could shed some light on things and share the knowledge! Thank you so much for your comments and keep rocking that awesome diet! 🙂

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