Thursday, May 13, 2010


Day 4 of Diabetes Blog Week: To Carb or Not to Carb

Okay, so here's my deal with carbs, or really food in general. I'm not really going to go into details on what I make for dinner or the foods that make me weak in the knees. I have a food blog for that. I just want to discuss my philosophy here. When it comes to diabetes and my diet, I'm done with being old school. After being diagnosed in 1991, I started using the "exchange" method to manage my diet. Starches, Veggies, Fruits, Meats, Fats, Sweets and Dairies. I think that's all of them. Who knows? Anyway, it was stupid. And I hated it. And I hated weighing my corn and green peas before dinner when I was 8 years old. I was still using N and R (again, old school insulin) and was pretty tied down to what I could eat, how much I could eat and when I could (or should) eat. What if I was hungrier than that? What if I wasn't hungry? The whole system just blew.

In 1996, when I was 14 years old and several years out from my diagnosis, my doctors really wanted me to start considering the pump. At first I wasn't interested but over time they were able to sell me on it. And the biggest selling point was the freedom. You have a basal rate that holds you steady and if you want to eat, you can bolus for the food. If you aren't hungry? No need for mid-day snacks. Is it a special occasion and you want to eat a big celebratory meal? No problem, count your carbs and dial up your bolus. The pump was supposed to mimic what a pancreas would do. (You know, in those normal folks who have one that works. Personally, mine's a slacker.) I loved the freedom. I loved not weighing my foods and thinking in terms of exchanges. It was a wonderful way to manage my diabetes!

So much so that 5 years later when I was sick of the pump, the first thing I asked my doctor about going back on shots was if there was any way to keep my management the same if I got rid of the pump. Luckily for me that was right around the time when Lantus was coming out. This peak-less insulin acted as my "basal" and gave me the freedom to "bolus" with Humalog for meals and high blood-sugars, just like the pump, only with shots.

So I've been eating what I want for years now. As far as I'm concerned, as long as you are counting carbs as accurately as possible and bolusing responsibly, I'm in the camp that says we can do the same things as all those folks with a working pancreas. Now there is one caveat to that. Because I can't always be sure how many carbs are in things without a label (sometimes I swear that restaurants wash their lettuce in sugar water!), there is always the risk of not bolusing accurately.

So with any carbs that I take in there is a "risk" of not being able to accurately predict what it will do to my blood-sugars. But this can be the case even if I know the carbs. Sometimes blood-sugars just do what they want despite my best efforts. It's all about learning how my body responds to things and giving it my best damn guess. And then following my sugars like a hawk to make sure that they behave. But, personally, I don't feel that I should have to avoid carbs at all costs simply because there's a chance they could make my sugars whacky.

As with everything else in life I just try to maintain balance. Do I eat the Krispy Kreme donut every time I walk by it because it's glazy-goodness beckons. No. Why? Well, first I'm doing my best to keep my hips and thighs in check. And second, while Krispy Kreme's are bolus-worthy for sure, you can't justify it every day of the week. But again moderation is key even for people who don't have diabetes. It's just part of life.


PS: Does anyone else want a donut now? :-/


  1. Everyone's posts today have made me SO HUNGRY.

  2. I LOVE carbs! I don't always eat carbs, but damn if I don't love them!
    Kelly K~

  3. I really want a donut! Dunkin Donuts is on my drive to work...I occasionally stop by for a coffee...and a Boston Creme!

  4. I'm happy to hear when people don't restrict themselves. It's all about balance - I agree!