Um, No thank you - Carbs don't make me feel normal by Gina Roberts MHP

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Gina Roberts, MHP
MHP - Metabolic Health Practitioner accredited by the Society of Metabolic Health Practitioners (SMHP)
LowCarb USA Certified Health Coach
Nutrition Network Advisor - Professional Training in LCHF/Keto Nutrition and Treatment
30+ years as a personal caregiver. Managed care for individuals with COPD, Heart Disease, Stroke, Alzheimer's, Cancer and Alcohol/Substance Addiction.
Personal: 4+ years of personal experience with a Ketogenic diet as a type 1 diabetic with Lupus SLE.
Successful in achieving a normal pre-diabetic HbA1c 4 years continuously as a type 1 diabetic. (4.7 to 5.0)
155 lb weight loss since Nov. 2017.
Lupus - currently in remission with a very low carb ketogenic diet.

I changed to a very low carb diet just over two years ago. I don't stray from my diet or have big "cheat days" because I genuinely feel so much better with consistent blood sugars.

One thing that I have found very interesting, is that people around me including friends and some of my own family worry that I won't fit into social situations because of my diabetes and my choice to be low carb. They want me to be able to have the cake and not feel left out.

But here's the thing, I don't feel left out. It is ok to be at the party and not have the cake.

I want to share a few of my thoughts on trying to "fit in" and "feel normal" as an insulin-dependent diabetic on holidays and at social events.

So often I hear people say "why don't you just eat the cookie, the cake, the candy, or the french fries"? "You have insulin - just take your insulin" or "just eat carbs like a normal person." A normal person? Have you met me? I don't have a pancreas! I don't have islet cells! I don't produce any insulin on my own. Period. Insulin is required to process carbohydrates and therefore, I am not in any way "normal"! In fact, I am very carbohydrate intolerant and too much carbohydrate can make me very ill if I don't have exogenous insulin injections.

And yes, I do have an insulin pump, but it isn't magical. It doesn't know how many carbs are actually in that cookie or that cake - and neither do I. So If I did eat that cake, it would be a complete guess as to how many carbs are actually in the piece that I eat. I don't know exactly how much insulin I will need to cover the unknown amounts of sugar in that piece of cake - so it does create worry for me.

I hear people say terrible things like the following to other type 1 and type 2 diabetics- especially when it comes to young kids:

  • "Let them eat the cake like the other kids so that they can fit in".
  • "Don't make them feel bad because they can't have the cupcake too."
  • "It's only a piece of candy and the other kids are having it - let them have one so that they won't feel left out".
  • "why punish them for being diabetic… let them have the cake."

I do know that people mean well and I know that they just want me and others to fit into the social situation, but here is the thing… No amount of carbohydrate-rich cake will ever, ever allow me to "feel normal".

Normal blood sugar is between 70-100 mg/dl and anything over that does not make me feel "normal". In fact, it feels terrible. My brain and my body are literally struggling to figure out what to do with the sugars I cannot process, I am beginning to feel "off", my vision becomes slightly blurred, I struggle with my concentration, I can feel cold or sweaty, I feel slightly nauseous and the excess sugars running through my arteries and veins cannot get access my cells to give me the energy I need because I don't produce the insulin to allow that to happen. And when I do take insulin, it can take hours before it works to process the excess sugars. Until then, I don't feel well!

High blood sugars make me feel irritable, and everyone around me knows that I don't feel ok. It makes me stand out and it makes the social situation more difficult than it needs to be.

It actually makes me look and feel like much more of a "sick" person because I truly don't feel well and it takes me away from the party because I have to keep checking my blood sugars to make sure I have enough insulin - or even worse too much causing me to become hypoglycemic.

I become much more concerned about what is happening with my diabetes rather than just allowing me to be present with the people around me and enjoying their company.

I am different. I don't produce insulin. It is ok that I am different. I don't need to eat that cookie to be a part of the group, the conversation, event, etc. I can just be there just as myself - happy and healthy. Not worrying or stressing over my insulin needs because I ate a bunch of sugar with the rest of you - just to "fit in".

Written by Gina Roberts, MHP
Published May 20th, 2023

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