1. How long have you been a diabetic?
I have had type 1 Diabetes for 12 years. I was diagnosed when I was 14. It’s crazy to think that I have had Diabetes for almost half of my life!
2. Your diagnosis story?
Well, it was pretty similar to a lot of other diagnosis stories.
I was showing symptoms for at least three months prior to diagnosis. A few highlights: I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate…and drank and drank and drank. I would wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, but would get such horrible calf cramps that I couldn’t walk and felt like I needed to scream. I once peed behind a bush in the middle of the city because I had to go so bad. There were rumours going around my high school that I had an eating disorder because I was so thin. Despite being an A student, I got detention because I left a class to go to the bathroom (I was out of potty breaks). I remember struggling to stay awake in classes too.
So yeah, I was exhibiting all signs of type 1 Diabetes. Hunger, thirst, tiredness, constant bathroom. I went to the doctor, not because I didn’t feel well, but for a physical so I could play hockey in school. Receiving a diagnosis like type 1 Diabetes and leaving the hospital the same day was extremely overwhelming.
3. When and why did you start eating low carb?
After I got married in 2016, I started to think more long-term in life. I thought about future pregnancy, and also how my Diabetes impacts my husband.
Diabetes can turn us into monsters, and the mood swings from out of control Diabetes are a real thing! So at that point I knew I needed to start taking better control of my diabetes. I tried really hard, but taking insulin and just eating seemingly healthy is actually really hard to do. I was sick and tired of chasing blood sugars.
I actually stumbled upon someone with diabetes on Instagram. They were eating “keto” and posting a lot of their blood sugars. So I read more about low carb/keto and decided to give it a go. Shortly after, I bought Dr. Bernstein’s book, Diabetes Solution.
I haven’t looked back once!
4. What happened to your bg (blood glucose) levels when you started eating low carb?
When I started to eat low carb, I noticed an IMMEDIATE improvement with my blood sugars, and it hasn’t let me down yet! There’s no denying that carbohydrates have the single largest influence on blood sugar, so by reducing carbs, it reduces the likelihood of fluctuating blood sugars. It’s science. Less carbs, less insulin, less fluctuation.
The hardest adjustment is being able to say no to carbs. It was at this point, where I truly struggled with saying no to carbs, that I realized how addicting they actually are. If they are that addicting, that I can’t NOT eat them, then something is wrong!
The human body does not need carbohydrates to sustain life. That’s a fact. It can take a while to truly be able to say no, and I’m thankfully at that point. But this journey has proven to me just how toxic carbs are.
5. How did your body benefit from starting a low carb diet?
Basically everything has improved. My skin is clearer, my mind is clear (no brain fog), I have more energy, I am less moody. I also worry a lot less about my Diabetes. Because of eating low carb, my blood sugars rarely fluctuate. This means that I don’t need to focus on roller coaster numbers, worrying about going high or low, or anything else.
Eating low carb has made my Diabetes predictable. That in itself is worth it!
6. What do you classify as carbs or “bad” carbs?
Oooooh! Basically, any carb that will raise blood sugar quickly is what I would classify as bad. So, any flour, grain, starch, sugar, fruit, etc. Gross!
I look for low glycemic vegetables and fruits. Some great examples: cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
7. You have a few Keto recipes-how do you incorporate this with the high fat levels?
Well, I actually don’t eat “keto”. I aim for more protein than I do fat. The key to any meal is to be satiated! I don’t count calories, ever. I eat real food until I am full, and by eating adequate amounts of protein I feel full until my next meal.
There’s a GREAT book called, Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes. He basically addresses why carbs are the reason that we gain weight, not fat or calories. Insulin is a fat storing hormone, and insulin is produced when we eat carbs. It’s a truly fascinating book.
8. How did you go from eating high carb or “normal” to low carb eating? Was it a process or was it cold turkey?
I wish I could say that I went cold turkey. I didn’t though, it was a slow process for me.
The reason that I say I wish I would have gone cold turkey is because it is incredibly difficult to say no, but only sometimes. It is incredibly difficult to eat just one piece of chocolate, or one bar, etc. And for a long time, I said I would just limit myself to “some”. But that’s super ambiguous and doesn’t work for a lot of people. I made so many exceptions and so many mistakes because I simply said, “oh just this once”. Most people are like me and can’t actually control, even though they want to. That’s why I would recommend the hard stop and just say no. Period.
Thankfully I’ve reached that point now though!
9.Million dollar question. Me myself have a huge struggle with carbs and I have a wild sweet tooth. I want to go as low carb as possible. What is your advice (for me and newbies)?
That’s a hard question.
I think it depends on your personality type. Gretchen Rubin wrote a great book called, Better Than Before. She discusses how some people are moderators and some are abstainers. A person with a moderator trait is able to truly take things in stride and not fall back because of this. Moderators could truly eat one piece of chocolate. An abstainer on the other hand, needs an absolute. I am definitely an abstainer. It is easier for me to say no, than to say sometimes. I think if we are honest with ourselves, most people are abstainers. But who wants to admit that they can’t say no? It sucks. So if you’re struggling with being able to say “sometimes”, try saying an absolute no! You may be more successful when you simply say no! It does take time to get to this point though; I don’t underestimate that.
On another note, I can totally relate. I LOVE chocolate and never in a million years thought that I would be able to give it up. For me, I spent time (and money) to find healthy alternatives to the foods that I love, or I make my own sweets. My blog has a lot of links to great recipe websites! So part of the whole process is finding alternatives that don’t make it seem like you’re actually giving something up.
I think it’s important to be honest with yourself. It took me a very long time to get to where I am now, and I wish it wasn’t this way. I was making too many exceptions, even though I knew they weren’t going to work. But embracing the journey is key. Realizing that you’re doing the right thing, and that you’re on the right path is half the battle! You have a willingness to change, so don’t beat yourself up too much along the way.
Where to find Leah (the.insulin.type)