Figuring Out What You Can Eat?
With the insulin available today you really have many choices when it comes to food. The first thing you will want to do is set up an appointment with a registered dietician, you can read more about this under setting up your medical team.
Understand how food, insulin, and activity work in your system will allow you even more flexibility in your food choices. The most advanced system to calculate your food to insulin ratio is done by using carbohydrate counting. The other very important part of this equation is understanding how the insulin works in your system as far as timing and absorption rate of your insulin.
Depending on the time of day and activity level will determine what my insulin ration will be for the food I am about to eat. I am very sensitive to rapid insulin so depending on my activity level and my blood glucose test will determine when I give my needle for the food I am about to eat. My rapid acting insulin for example starts to work within 15 minutes and is finished within 2 hours. In a restaurant I make sure my food has arrived at the table before I give my fast acting insulin. If I need to make a correction in my test is the only time I will give my fast acting insulin before my food has arrived, my correction ratio for reducing my test with rapid insulin is – 1 unit of rapid insulin will lower my test by 3 mmol/L. If I am starting my meal with salad (no carbohydrates) and my test is right at the number I aim for (6.0 mmol/L) I will only give my rapid insulin when I start eating my carbohydrates that will require insulin. Each person is different when it comes to how insulin works for them, I know it sounds really picky how I do this, although I am very sensitive to rapid insulin and less is more in my case.
If you are on an insulin pump or multiple injections using a long and short acting insulin you can very easily use carbohydrate counting. I have been on an insulin pump and I currently use multiple injections regime click here to learn more which is often referred to as the poor man’s insulin pump, which is working for me.
Food choices are about good nutrition, it is so important to plan your meals with what you enjoy eating and what combination of foods satisfy you and your family. There is no need to cook separate meals for your family or yourself, preparing good nutritious meals is very easy. There is a wonderful App that I used called “My fitness Pal” you can add the foods you enjoy to the list or look up the foods in the database. I love how simple it is for calculating everything, I can look up foods in restaurants in grocery stores. It shows the carbohydrates and the fibre, you would of learnt from your dietician that you have to minus the fibre from the carbohydrates as fibre does not turn to sugar. So you can see the benefits of higher finer foods not only need less insulin they will also slow down the absorption of the food.
Plain and simple, I take rapid acting insulin for the carbohydrates that I consume. When I end up in a situation where I have to guess the carbohydrates for a certain food, I would rather under estimate then over estimate the amount of insulin needed. Otherwise I can very easily end up with low blood sugar and then I have to literally feed the insulin to treat the low.
In the days of insulin where you took a certain dose in the morning and you had to eat at a certain time to match the peak time of the insulin was extremely difficult, if you missed the timing you ended up with a low, the insulin today provides so much flexibility. You can live well with diabetes, trust me it is worth the time and energy.
With over 50+ years living with type 1 diabetes I realize the importance of making healthy food choices. Food is a big part of life, and figuring out how to work different foods into your eating plan definately makes life more enjoyable.
Can I Have Dessert?
Yes, you can work dessert into your meal plan. Understanding what is in your food is the most important place to start. If you have just eaten a full meal and now the dessert tray comes out, you get to decide. If it is something simple I will at times give it a try. If I know the carbohydrates, it is easy to give the insulin needed. If you do not know the carbohydrates, really what you end up doing is guessing. If it is a rich, lots of sugar, loaded with sweet sauce…I stay away from it.
From my experience it doesn’t usually pay off when I decide to have that dessert. The dessert may look really good and where I get in trouble is how do I know how many carbohydrates are really in that wonderful looking dessert. So I guess on the insulin and then check my blood sugar in a couple of hours to see it I need a correction. Yes, it usually works, although where I have gotten into trouble is miss calculating what is really in the dessert, sometimes it has more fat then sugar and you really did not need all the insulin you took and I end up going low. Anything causing that up and down cycle of your blood sugar really will just cause trouble in the end.
I now ask myself, “IS IT INSULIN WORTHY” before I decide to have any food for that matter. If you walk around thinking you are doing without, you are going to start acting like you are doing without. I enjoy life and I live with diabetes and today it is really no big deal, it is simple a way of life.
So you make the choice to have cheese cake for example, well you think you may need about 5 units of rapid insulin to cover the carbohydrates for this small piece of cheese cake. You find out in about an hour you took too much insulin and have an insulin reaction. Then you end up treating the low with more sugar/carbohydrates. Now you realize you have over treated the low and your test is high. Not really what you were planning. Now your sugars are up and down all evening and your now feeling crappy. Been there done that! This is one of the biggest reason I now ask myself “IS IT INSULIN WORTHY” before I make a choice to have any food that is high in sugar.
Let’s face it there are lots of things that will make blood sugar go up and down. I will never forget a diabetic nurse educator who was also type 1 diabetic who spoke at a conference I attended. I asked her a couple of questions about getting my blood sugar to that perfect range. She looked at me and said, “Good luck with that, you are diabetic, which means your blood sugar will go up and down, so thinking you are not going to have highs and lows at times will make you crazy.”
Well said, got it, loud and clear! She is right, for me each and every day is different, yes I do test 5-7 times a day every single day as my blood sugar does change and I make corrections as needed. My 24 hour insulin stays the same month after month (love this new insulin). I love the flexibility I have with carbohydrates counting and I can adjust my insulin based on my activity.
Carbohydrate counting allows you to eat almost anything, you really have to ask yourself if that is a good thing or not. Remember the balancing act of insulin, food, and exercise. Being on a 24 hour insulin allows the flexibility to eat my meals at the times that best suit me, as my meal insulin is covered with rapid insulin. Each time I eat carbohydrates, depending on my activity level will determine the amount of rapid insulin I take.
I know I do not have to tell you this is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week condition. I know you have already figured that out. Each and every day I start a new day, I look back on my tests/records for patterns when I have something going on I can’t seem to figure out.
What I know today, I have lived well with a chronic condition for over 50+ years. I understand how food, activity, and insulin work in my body and I live a wonderful life, filled with adventure, family, friends, joy, laughter, and love.
Disclaimer – This website does not provide medical advice or treatment recommendations. All content on type 1 diabetes treatment website is for informational purposes and is the personal experience and opinion of the author. Always seek the advice of a licensed physician with you medical questions and concerns.
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