Diabetes Dilemma

Submitted by Hillary on Wed, 11/29/2006 - 2:25am.

I heard a story on the radio today about a doctor in Kansas who has designed a diet that helps her patients with Type 2 diabetes (what I have) get to the point where they no longer need medication to control their blood sugar.  This isn’t necessarily new news, although that’s how they presented the story.  I had read that if a diabetic loses enough weight, exercises regularly and carefully manages what they eat, they could get to the point where medication is no longer necessary.   

This particular diet, however, involves severely restricting carbs, and focusing on eating nuts, cheese and meat.  Vegetables are ok, and fruit less so.  I already keep my carb intake to 30-45 grams per meal, which is pretty low, although not as low as I think this doctor recommends.  I try to include nuts in my diet, and I have no problem eating cheese.  Mmmm…cheese.  And I eat plenty of vegetables, but I’m sure there is always room for more.  As a vegetarian though, the meat portion of this diet is right out for me.  I was thinking about it on the drive home, and even if someone could guarantee to me that eating meat, poultry and fish again would help me become not diabetic, I wouldn’t do it.  I don’t think that’s true, first of all, and even if it was, my reasons for not eating meat still feel valid to me.  I think I am healthier as a vegetarian, even now that I’m a diabetic.  And it is better for the planet.  And I still don’t want another creature to suffer and die for my dining pleasure.  If my choice was to eat meat or starve to death, I’d eat the meat.  But as long as I have other options, I will take them.   

And then there’s the flip side.  If I absolutely knew for sure that my health problems would be solved if I never ate pasta, bread, beans, rice or potatoes, cookies, cakes or brownies ever again, could I give them up?  Is life without bread and chocolate worth it if it means I don’t have to worry about my blood sugar anymore?  Frankly, I think I’d rather add an extra mile to my runs or an extra half an hour to my workout every day than completely give up carbs.  And technically, I’m not sure you can ever completely give up carbs.  Even carrots have them.  Cheese doesn’t, and I guess meat doesn’t, but my Exchange Planning for Diabetics nutrition booklet talks quite a lot about how diabetics also have to watch their fat intake, so I can’t run around eating cheese all the time.  And how would I get any fiber?  I like eating oatmeal for breakfast every day.

So, does my continuing vegetarianism and my clinging to my sugar, flour, rice, potato and oat consuming ways make me stubborn, smart or stupid?  I guess we’ll find out when I finish losing weight and see if I can go off my medication.