A few months ago, I wrote about some of the changes I was making towards my carbohydrate intake, and I think it’s time for a bit of a follow up.
I’m quite a spontaneous eater. For a long time, I’ve struggled with trying to curb my snacking and be diligent inbetween meals. I would have weeks where I would be super diligent, have excellent blood sugars, but was super hungry and fidgety. Those good spells rarely lasted beyond a week or two, and I would eventually end up rebounding with more carbs.
I was also eating a lot of fast acting carbohydrates and empty foods that left me hungry soon after. Some days I would snack mindlessly in the afternoons, and I never felt great or super energetic at the end of the day.
I knew all of this, but never resolved to do anything about it until recently. In my mind, I never set out on this with the intention of going extreme low carb. Life is too short not to eat cake or drink coffee. For me, this was more of a way to try and improve my eating habits, incorporate more sustaining energy sources into my diet, and to feel better overall. Maybe, just maybe, that would be the key to making my glucose levels a little more manageable.
I now try to have at least one protein source with either breakfast or lunch. For breakfast, I’ve thrown eggs on toast into my rotation alongside Oats or Weetbix and Banana. For lunch, I’ve thrown steak sandwiches and tuna sandwiches into my rotation, rather than having toasted ham and cheese every day. Dinner is usually a cooked meal, and would likely include a protein source at least 4 times a week.
Significant protein meals do need a bolus. I’m still experimenting with this, but I’m finding that setting an extended bolus for 50% of the protein over 2 hours is too much. I would like to give this theory a go, where I would bolus for 100% of the protein amount over 20g.
On good days, I try to keep my snacks inbetween meals very low carb. I usually snack on nuts and cheese, and often have a milky coffee with it, which is about 8g of carbs.
There are still plenty of moments where I indulge. But it doesn’t necessarily happen every day like it used to. Treating myself is more of my choice now, not simply because I’m feeling empty and craving something sweet. If I’m guessing for a piece of cake, I do try to look at it and think about the carb count. It really does make all the difference. The Calorie King app on my iPhone is also really handy for finding carb counts on the go.
I don’t have a strict number of carbs that I hold myself to each day. As a ballpark figure, I would say that I would eat an average of 30g per meal. But it really does depend on the meal. A low day might be 70-80g of carbs. A high day might be 120g. I think I would rarely go near 150g in a day.
What’s surprising me the most is how much I have unconsciously reduced the amount of carbs I have eaten. For instance, there are days where I glance at my pump and realise that I’ve only eaten something like 75g without even noticing. My blood sugars are more manageable, in part because I have reduced my carb intake, but moreso because I don’t have that urge to snack mindlessly anymore. There is definitely more of a variety and satisfaction in my diet, which translates to less of a desire for junk food. I think I have brought my lunch once in the last month, as opposed to every Friday. Unless you count coffee.
I definitely don’t view carbs as the enemy, so long as I go about them sensibly, carb count and pre bolus insulin appropriately. Carbohydrates that I do eat regularly include nutritious lower carb bread, such as Baker’s Delight Cape Seed loaf or Burgen varieties. Greek style vanilla yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, milk and oats. I eat pasta and rice in moderation if they are a part of the evening meal. I also have a block of chocolate handy for a treat if I’m craving something sweet.
I often receive e-mails and messages asking me if I would consider going on a genuine low carb high fat, or ketogenic diet. For me, what I am doing at the moment is realistic. That 30g per meal is a number that doesn’t send me rebounding on more carbohydrates. Super high fat or greasy meals don’t particularly appeal to me, either. And to be honest, I’m never going to be the kind of person who converts to low carb as a way of life.
As always, diet is a very individual choice, and I have come across a variety of different perspectives in the DOC. There’s no right or wrong approach. In my mind, the right diet is the one that is realistic, that you can sustain, and that will make you happy.
At the moment, I’m confident that this is the approach that I want to continue with going forward, and the one that will send me toward the a1c I am aiming for.