Type 1 diabetics can eat anything, but to keep my blood sugar and general health in check, I’m finding my groove in a flexible, balanced diet.
ICYMI (In case you missed it): In January 2017, I was misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after almost dying from a ketoacidosis attack (Read the story.) I did a lot of research and learned that others have stop the symptoms of type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) simply by losing weight. I spent the next 5 months eating a strict oil-free whole food plant-based diet. I ate virtually no fat, no salt, and no refined sugar for 4 months. I went from a Size 14 to a Size 2! (Read how I lost 25 pounds in 2 months.) Unfortunately, my diabetes eventually worsened and I ended up in the emergency room twice more in May. I was then finally diagnosed correctly with type 1 diabetes (insulin dependence).
Even after switching from oral medicine to insulin injections, I continued to struggle with blood sugar highs and lows. My previously Vegan diet was very carb-heavy, and my nutritionist recommended a diet with a better balance of the 3 macro-nutrients: carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fat, due to how they impact each other getting absorbed into the blood stream. Also, the reality of type 1 diabetes is that I must carefully calculate every carb I consume so that I inject myself with a corresponding amount of insulin. The more insulin I take, the more room there is for error. Errors can kill, or make me feel awful. Protein and fat have little impact to my blood sugar.
So I’ve changed my own rules for eating. I’m not focused on my weight/BMI anymore, although I want to avoid weight gain in general. I’m allowing myself to enjoy a variety of food, while keeping my blood sugar under control.
My New Eating Rules:
- Keep meals & snacks under 50g carbs each; under 35g carbs each is preferable.
- Eat between 1200-1600 calories per day.
- Minimize intake of refined sugar. (It’s toxic, addictive, and causes significant spikes in blood sugar.)
As an example, here’s what I ate today:
- Breakfast: Hash browns (with homemade salsa), bacon, and blueberries – 206 calories, 32g carbs
- Lunch: Mediterranean Zucchini “Pasta” with chicken – 195 calories, 14g carbs
- Snack: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies x2 – 266 calories, 22g carbs
- Dinner: Lentils & Veggies – 264 calories, 46g carbs
- Dessert: Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake Tart – 374 calories, 26g carbs
Total Calories: 1,305
Now that I have stopped traveling and have a kitchen again, I generally make all my food from scratch using only real ingredients (i.e., nothing that comes from a box; nothing that has ingredients I can’t pronounce). For sweet desserts, I may use some Stevia (a plant-based natural sweetener), but I keep it minimal.
Most of my meals and snacks today were a little higher in fat than I’d like, and most of the fats were on the unhealthier side: bacon, oil, cheese, and cream cheese. My taste buds are quite pleased, but I’ll shoot for healthier fat choices (such as avocado and nuts) tomorrow.
Mediterranean Zucchini “Pasta”
This is one of the few dishes to which I add oil. It’s worth it. It’s easy to make and very flavorful. I sometimes enjoy it as a meal by itself, but today I added 2 oz. of chicken to make it more filling.
To make 3 servings:
- “Spiralize” 3 zucchini. (I use the Veggetti .)
- Saute zucchini, 2 cups spinach, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and black pepper. Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.
- Add 1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, and 3 tbsp feta cheese.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Let’s talk simple: 3-ingredient wholesome cookies. Simply mix together 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 mashed ripe banana. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 15 minutes.
Lentils & Veggies
On Sundays, I usually make a big dish that I eat throughout the week. Consistency is great, because my meals are easier to track, and I already know how much insulin to inject. Last Sunday I made a lentils and veggies dish with 3 easy steps using my Instant Pot. This dish is an old favorite from when I ate a strict whole food plant-based diet. It’s at the high-end of my carb intake limit, but it’s worth it because it has lots of vitamins and fiber, and it’s delicious.
Here’s my recipe for 8 portions.
- Saute an onion in the Instant Pot (I don’t use any oil.).
- Add 4 cups broth, 2 cups black or brown lentils (they don’t get mushy in the IP), 5 garlic cloves, 2 medium chopped bell peppers, 4 tomatoes, 1/4 cup fresh basil, 2 tbsp cumin, and a bay leaf.
- Cook on low pressure for 3 hours (or high pressure for 30 minutes),
Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake Tarts
I was a bit indulgent this week in my dessert choice for the week. But I greatly enjoyed it, while minimizing the carbs. Here’s a recipe for 5 servings:
- Core and bake an apple at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Shred the apple using a food processor.
- Blend 8 ounces of cream cheese, 8 Stevia sweetener drops, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp cinnamon, and the shredded apple.
- Mix 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs with 2-1/2 tbsp melted butter, then divide it evenly into muffin cups in a muffin pan. (Or little bowls if you have them.) Add a heaping 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture to each muffin cup.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Many people believe the very-low-carb/”keto” diet is best for any diabetic, but that does not work for me. I still believe eating a low fat whole food plant-based diet is extremely healthy for most people, and it’s clearly useful for weight loss. However, I’ve also come to the conclusion that different diets (by diet, I mean the kind of food a person eats) work for different people. The key is sustainability; can the person follow that way of eating for life?
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below, or on my Facebook page.