All About the Carbs
Even before a lovely tropical vacation at an all-inclusive resort featuring all-you-can-eat buffets, carbohydrate intake had once become a concern with a less active life during winter in Minnesota. Having all sorts of breads and sweet treats available during most hours of the day proved to wreak havoc on average blood glucose during that short getaway.
I needed answers to three questions before making a switch away from carbohydrates in moderation to treat type 2 diabetes:
- What types of specific carbohydrates did I need to cut out of my diet
- How low carbohydrate did I want to go
- Would I track carbohydrates any differently
What specific carbs did I need to cut out from my diet?
The first answer was rather easy after the vacation in paradise. Refined sugar and bread products needed to be consumed only rarely. Paying attention to “no sugar added” would be key while reading labels at the grocery store. Fruit would still be allowed, as long as it contained enough fiber or was consumed alongside a protein source.
How low carb did I need to go?
Back at initial diagnosis, and for several years after, I tried to maintain an average of 130g of carbohydrates per day. Any less and I felt energy levels decreased too much to exercise; any more and I would see blood glucose rise. Over time, I allowed more carbohydrates in moderation. Now, fourteen years since the type 2 diabetes diagnosis at the age of twenty-nine, it was becoming apparent it was no longer appropriate if I wanted to keep going with diet, exercise, and metformin as treatment. Going back to basics of 130 carbohydrates per day seemed doable after the wake-up call in the tropics.
How should I track my carb intake?
For the past couple of years, I had been using a tracker for blood glucose monitoring and carbohydrate counting using total grams instead of subtracting out any grams of fiber. However, if I was going lower carb, I wanted to start only tracking net carbohydrates instead of total carbohydrates.
Unlike other health challenges, this did not start out as a monthly or even weekly goal in my bullet journal. I did not tell anyone what I was starting to do. I would simply try for one week and see how it made me feel.
The result of cutting out more carbs from my diet
After a week, two things happened. Areas prone to acne on face and back turned clear, and despite low levels of exercise, a change was noticeable with how I carried a bit of extra weight. After two weeks, blood glucose levels were consistently between 120-150 mg/dl. While I would have liked that range to be a bit lower, it indicated a better standard deviation than I had been experiencing while only practicing carbohydrates in moderation. After three weeks, I ate a pie slice full of refined sugar as a treat for Pi Day, which happened to be type 2 diabetes diagnosis anniversary as well. I felt awful for hours as blood glucose rose and decided the refined sugar just was not worth it.
As I started my fifteenth year with type 2 diabetes, I found it worth it to go back to the way I started. Consuming a lower carbohydrate with rare refined sugar and bread products and measuring net carbohydrates makes sense again. Spring is coming and it will now be interesting to see how regular exercise impacts this effort. Stay tuned!
How well does your doctor explain diabetes care terms to you?