3 Reasons Why The Term “Free Foods” Is Damaging For Type 1 Diabetics
01. Leads to thinking that lower carb or no carb foods are “better” choices
Many diabetics have internalized this idea of there being something like “too much insulin” or “too many carbs” for one meal. And because more carbs require more insulin it is very common for diabetics to not only avoid carbs but also be scared of them. This “good food/bad food” mentality can be a huge mental burden on top of everything else a diabetic person has to think of on a daily basis. Not only does this make eating a lot more stressful than it has to be – it also affects all other aspects of life. Whether you are invited to a dinner at a restaurant or a birthday party, you’ll never be able to fully enjoy these events if you’re constantly thinking about whether that cake was worth the insulin or not. While low carb foods can be amazing for stable blood sugars and diabetes management – including carbohydrates into our diets is crucial for our health as well. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing almonds over a banana if you feel like it, it’s the fear of carbs that is going to make you feel restricted and unhappy in the long run.
02. Insinuates that taking insulin for a snack is “bad”
Restricting carbs is ultimately connected to a fear of insulin. There are many different reasons for that kind of thinking. Even doctors often recommend eating lower carb meals for better diabetes management – with the side effect that patients can use less insulin. While that isn’t the problem in itself, it can become problematic when diabetics then believe that insulin is bad, or they should avoid it as much as possible: for instance only allow themselves to have insulin during meal time, but not for a snack. But not only can restricting insulin become very problematic for physical health – it also affects our mental health.
By not allowing ourselves to use the needed amounts of insulin we deprive ourselves of living life to the fullest. We believe that we don’t deserve to use more insulin, to have that apple as a snack. We believe that we shouldn’t be having that piece of cake in between meals because we have to “save” insulin for dinner. But you know what? We don’t. We can actually eat whatever we want to as long as we focus on moderation and balance. Diabetes is a complex and energy consuming disease. We don’t get to have rest days. Diabetes requires constant monitoring, calculating and reflecting on every action that we take. Let’s not make it harder for ourselves than it already is. Instead let’s try and focus on what we can add to our diets rather than what we should take from it. And who would want to live their life eating egg whites and spinach every day anyways?
03. Aren’t filling by themselves so you have to eat more to feel satisfied
Only eating a cheese stick or only eating half of an avocado by itself will not make us feel satiated for long, which is why it is crucial to eat well-balanced meals and snacks. This does not only make us stay full for longer and help balance blood sugar levels, it also combats unwanted cravings in between meals.
We’ve probably all heard of this concept but what exactly is a well-balanced meal?
A balanced meal consists of all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Depending on how much of each macronutrient is in one meal your blood sugar will react differently. While some people might prefer a lower carb diet, and some might prefer meals that are higher in carbs - at the end of the day it comes down to what you enjoy and can implement into your life long term. There’s no point in eating zucchini pasta instead of real pasta when you won’t feel satisfied after and then end up bingeing on a bag of chips. While all of this can definitely be very confusing and overwhelming, learning about macros is key to good diabetes management. When we do consume healthy sources of carbohydrates with plenty of good fat and protein, the glucose from the meal enters our blood slowly and therefore our blood sugar won’t spike and then crash as much after the meal. Relatively stable blood glucose levels will not only lead to less cravings but also help with good energy levels throughout the day.