Sometimes you look back on your life and think, well that was lucky. And that's just how I feel about my diagnosis. I know that's a slightly odd thing to say, but of all the long-term conditions one could get I think diabetes is a pretty good option. Yes you have to change aspects of your life. Yes sometimes it's incredibly frustrating and gets in the way. Occasionally it's quite scary both for you and those around you. On the whole though it is fairly easy to get along with (or even pretty much ignore for very short periods).
Another reason why I feel lucky is that when I was diagnosed I was introduced to the concept of 'exchanges' so I've been estimating carbs and adjusting doses almost from the beginning. The idea that people have been advised by medical professionals to eat great platefuls of carbs without any measurement of the load and just bung in a standard dose is quite frightening. I can't imagine what my control would have been like if I'd been given that as an approach. The first DSN I saw, way back in 1991, asked me about my general diet and from our conversation suggested a base level of carbohydrate to aim for which would make the whole dose thing easier to begin with. When introduced to basal-bolus, one of the main benefits, it seemed to me, was the ability to change the dose to match your meal. There was no longer any reason to stick to x grams of carbohydrate. My fortuitous timing then gave me this outlook:
- Eat normally
- Eat healthily
- Wholefoods will be easier on the bg
- Watch the fat intake but let's not be silly about it (I'm lucky never to have had a problem with my weight)
- Drink in moderation (and be very careful when you don't)
- Have an occasional treat/pudding/blowout - you're not a monk
Only quite recently I have come into contact with several people (both T1s and T2s) who manage their diabetes with a very low carb diet, some with spectacularly good effects. I don't go very low carb myself, tending towards 150g/day, sometimes much higher. In fact the more I read of the experiences of T2s the luckier I feel with T1. At least if I've got a big celebration blowout I can split a whopping insulin dose into several phased deliveries so that it gets gradually absorbed as my digestive system chugs through it all.
The secret to a happy, healthy diabetic diet I think is best summed up by this: Eat to your meter. Testing just before meals is not enough for me. I also need to check what happens in the hours afterwards. That way I can identify which foods cause spikes (or crashes) in my blood sugars, and then I can either avoid that food, or work around the problem with altered doses, splits and timings. Once the patterns have been spotted I've more chance of knowing what to do. Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you. If you eat low carb and it works, brilliant. If you eat carbs and you can manage it, great!
The bottom line is keeping your control tight. That way we'll all keep well.