Hi there! Thanks for checking back in to Flawed yet Functional! I’ve been mulling a health and personal update for a while now, but wasn’t sure how to direct it or what I should share with you. The more I work on my diet and overall health, the more passionate I get about using food to heal the body and create a healthy life. So as I tried to write you a post about my health, I got all soap-boxy about diabetics and diet change. My personal post will have to wait for another day. Click through to read about why I believe diabetics should change their diet.
Should a diabetic change their diet?
In short, yes, I believe diabetics should change their diet. I’m sure this stance brings up feelings of being judged and told what to do, so let me just start out saying that I understand. Changing my diet is not something I want to do originally nor did I believe it to be necessary.
In my experience, and I include myself in this, diabetics are a bit strong-willed, hard-headed, and want to do whatever they want to do. I think it is very difficult to change their beliefs about health.
The primary reason for this, I think, is that diabetes is a self-managed condition. The doctor can tell you all the ratios of carbs to insulin and regulate your dosage for you, but if the diabetic is not actively watching how their body reacts to carbs/insulin then they are headed toward an accidental low. All diabetics know they are in charge of their health, and I think some may even believe that their health, or lack of health, only affects them. This is false, but I see where the sentiment comes from.
I am learning that diet is extremely impactful on not only blood sugar, but overall physical, mental, and emotional stability and health. The positive effects I have seen in my life from changing my diet are just too big to ignore. So, I believe a diabetic should change their diet.
How should a diabetic change their diet?
Research has shown a strong correlation between gluten sensitivity and diagnosis of diabetes. It is my belief that the first change that should happen is eliminating gluten from their diet.
A gluten sensitivity results in leaky gut which is inflammation in the walls of the intestines. This inflammation allows partially digested food to enter the bloodstream which raises blood sugar. If the source of the inflammation is eliminated from the diet, the cell walls heal and digestion resumes as normal. This will allow blood sugar to drop and insulin need to reduce (woohoo! Less dependence on a SUPER expensive drug!).
I’ve seen this happen over and over in my own health over the last two years. Every time I am exposed to gluten, dairy, or eggs, my blood sugar raises for a time then goes back to normal after my gut has healed.
After gluten has been eliminated, I think a diabetic should go through an Elimination Diet so that they can identify any other food sensitivities. This is not an easy process, and I know that from my own experience. I’m not preaching something I haven’t done myself. It is hard, but it is so much better to eat food that nourishes your body, doesn’t spike your blood sugar, and leaves you feeling healthy and energized.
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol is highly researched and has a well laid out elimination period and reintroduction period. I would recommend this elimination diet, but there are others out there. The Myers Way by Dr. Amy Myers is another one I’ve tried. It works too, but the reintroduction period is not well outlined.
Establish a Comfortable, “New Normal” Healthy Diet
“Healthy diet” can mean so many things to so many people. I think it is helpful at times to put a label on your diet but only for the purpose of finding recipes easily. Here’s what I think a healthy diet is, and I think most would agree with me.
- As many vegetables as you can eat
- Fruit but not in abundance
- Fresh meat from a variety of animals and wild caught/hunted when possible
- Starches minimally as your gut allows: legumes, potatoes, etc.
- No processed food
- No grains (most grains mimic gluten at the cellular level, so I’d avoid them all.)
- Lots of water!
Find a new diet of foods that you enjoy and nourish your body. Release the foods that don’t. Think of them as poison to you. You wouldn’t want to eat poison and kill part of your body, right?
Why should a diabetic change their diet?
A diabetic should change their diet because it will impact their immediate gut health and blood sugar levels. It will also impact their long-term health because they will have lower, more stable blood sugars.
High blood sugar over the course of many years has many negative impacts to the whole body. It damages nerve endings, causes kidney failure, heart disease, eye damage, and many other ailments that can be avoided if blood sugar can be better controlled.
Discovering food sensitivities and limiting carb intake can produce a life that has stable blood sugar and tons of energy to enjoy all the hobbies and things you have wanted to do. The positive benefits far outweigh the restrictions.
Once you get your mind over the change, and accept it and embrace it as your new lifestyle, you will realize what a gift you’ve been given. You won’t be tired throughout the day. You’ll be able to keep up with your kids. And you’ll find yourself enjoying all the things you always wanted to because you are healthy and energized enough to do so. It’s worth it, I promise.
Change is hard
But you don’t want to change do you?
I completely understand. I didn’t want to change either. In fact, each new addition or tweak to my diet has been met with resistance from me. My husband is often finding research and suggesting things to me, but I resist until I have mulled it over and decided for myself that it’s what I want to do.
Personally, I have discovered that it is far better for my health and how I feel each and every day to take the necessary steps to eat healthy food and live a healthy lifestyle. I want the same thing for you which is why I write this blog. The purpose of Flawed yet Functional is to encourage and inspire you to create your best life by changing your food, habits, and hobbies.
Know that I understand the difficulties ahead for you. There are going to be personal struggles with wanting to stick to your new diet and making the changes. Also there will be struggles with your family, and you will have to figure out a new balance there. I just need to reiterate again that yes it is hard, but it is so worth it.
I’ll get off my soap box now. I hope you read this and find encouragement and hope, not judgment. I have walked this health road, and it is worth it. So, diabetics and diet change…do you have to change your diet when diagnosed with diabetes? No, of course you don’t have to, but you should. Better, fuller, more joyful life awaits you.