Diabetes and food. Food and diabetes. Whether you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, food becomes a focus of your diagnosis. In this column, I will be sharing recipes, tips for handling celebrations (which always include food!), and talk about not only learning to live with diabetes, but learning to live well.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2006 and, like many, was pretty clueless about what impact it would have on my life and what steps I would need to take. My diabetes was fairly well controlled for many years though, thanks to an oral medication called Metformin. That changed after an unexpected issue with my kidney function (not diabetes related), and I was told I could no longer take it. I would either have to start on insulin or learn to control my blood sugar levels by diet alone. What a shock to know that I had to drastically change my focus! To me, there was no choice. If I could learn to control my diabetes by simply choosing the “right” foods, then that was going to be my goal.
I have worked hard to achieve that goal, and I’m proud to report that I have succeeded in reducing my A1C to the normal range without insulin. By eating flavorful, healthy food, I was able to stop taking 2,000 mg of metformin and control my diabetes.
As a former caterer, and lover of delicious food, I have always been interested in eating better. Now I’m not only eating better food, I am eating to save my life. I call myself an “un-medicated diabetic.” Someday, I may have no choice but to start taking insulin, and that will be fine with me. In the meantime, I challenge myself, each and every day, to make wise choices that will lead to living a good, long life.
Cooking Delicious and Healthy Foods
Now… on to what I know are two of the most important elements of eating: good flavor and good ingredients. If it tastes good, we’ll want to eat it. But if we also use the right ingredients, we can improve and maintain a healthy A1C. Flavorful foods satisfy me, and help me avoid the high carbohydrate foods that used to be a staple. Being a diabetic doesn’t mean eating bland food. It means finding new ways to navigate how we cook.
Since the day begins with breakfast, I’m going to share one of my favorites. Many diabetics get into a rut and eat the same things over and over again, then get bored and turn to high carbohydrate foods because it’s easier. I’ve found a terrific recipe for pancakes. Yes, pancakes that do not use flour, so they will not affect your blood sugar! The ingredients are simple, as is the preparation. I usually double the recipe, so I can have the batter ready for another day, or I just make a second batch of pancakes and freeze them. You can use the basic recipe, or you can get creative and can include some tasty additions such as a few blueberries, or toasted pecans. Figure out what makes it taste great for you… I find the key to eating well is to satisfy my taste buds.