I know many of you reading this are looking to learn exactly what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… but I promise you, that is not where the answers are.
Knowing exactly what someone else eats and what they’ve figured out works for their body, won’t give you the confidence and freedom that is possible when you actually put a little bit more work into these foundational elements that I truly believe are imperative for type ones to consider when building their personal nutrition philosophy.
- Listening to what feels sustainable and aligned
By creating food rules, we are usually setting ourselves up for failure. The truth is that 95% of diets fail. For example, is it sustainable for me to say I'm never going to have dessert on a weeknight? Probably not. And then the second I do it, I'll feel like a failure.Instead, I find it more sustainable and in alignment to ask the right questions. Rather than always asking “what do I want to eat?” I also ask “how do you want or need to feel later today?” and that helps guide my choices.Just as an example, there's been times where I'm craving comfort food, but I know I have a lot of work calls that I have to be sharp for I just don't want to deal with the complexity of having to stay more on top of my blood sugar the way you do for something like pizza. And so by asking myself, like, do I wanna have this pizza cuz it's raining out and I just want something cozy, the answer's always gonna be yes. So instead I ask myself, "how do I want or need to feel later today?" And if the answer is "you need to be sharp... don't make your day more difficult than it needs to be," then I'm probably just going to go with an easier to bolus for meal.
- Combining outer wisdom and inner wisdom.
Outer wisdom is the education on all things nutrition. Inner wisdom is the understanding of your body’s unique blue print.For example, outer wisdom is what you might hear on social media that intermittent fasting is healthy and really good for you.Inner wisdom says, “Hey, you know what? When I skip breakfast and I don't eat till lunch, I have a bigger blood sugar spike after that, and I actually feel better on days that I eat something for breakfast.” What works and does feel good for me is when I am intentional about fasting for 12 hours between the last time I eat at night and when I have breakfast in the morning.
I can’t say this enough… learning to listen to your own body is KEY.
- Macronutrient balance and insulin timing
Having a baseline understanding of the fat and protein you’re consuming as well as the carbs is really important and often overlooked with T1D management. It might be helpful for some to track or count macros to build more awareness, especially if you are someone who “eyeballs” serving sizes. It can be very eye opening to realize how much fat is actually in the olive oil you usually just pour on your pasta, etc.But the big thing here is to still maintain that none of these foods are BAD and having more than the serving size suggests isn’t WRONG. The knowledge of amounts is just a tool for helping you optimize your body’s insulin sensitivity and naturally eat in a way that feels most supportive for you.
“When” is the forgotten W of insulin timing. When you dose is just as important as what you dose and this ties directly with macronutrient balance as fat, protein, and carbs have digest differently and therefore impact blood sugar at different times.
- Understanding and working with your hormones
We’re talking about stress, sleep, menstrual cycle. These are the behind the scenes players that impact insulin sensitivity.I eat and bolus differently if I am making a speech, if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, or if I am in my luteal phase.When we don't consider what's going on behind the scenes and we just try to eat the same thing, that's when there becomes the narrative of “Diabetes is just so hard because I could eat the same thing one day and then have it the next, and my numbers can do totally something totally different.”And while this is true, it's going to be a lot easier if you're considering the principles of what's going on behind the scenes with your hormones.
- Prioritizing insulin sensitivity
The bottom line is that my insulin sensitivity supports the way I want to eat. I don’t have the highest insulin sensitivity, but my body absorbs insulin quickly enough that I can come down from highs faster and I can eat more challenging foods without going on a blood sugar roller coaster.So the way that I access higher insulin sensitivity is through a very integrative approach of what I'm doing with my exercise, hormones, sleep, and nutrition. It’s not just that my body allows me to eat all of these things and have good numbers… I’ve created a system for my body that works for me and has become part of my lifestyle.
I'm just so glad to be in a place where food doesn't take up so much of my mental energy, and yet it's not because I'm ignoring my diabetes, but because I am just working with my body and its patterns and the factors that allow me to have more peace of mind. What I hope you can take away from this is that food doesn't have to be the enemy for T1Ds.
If you want support creating YOUR food philosophy and the system that works for your body, check out our Blood Sugar and Nutrition Guide, a 7 day strategic approach to improve your post meal blood sugars with 50 recipes and a suggested meal plan.