Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDCES and Michelle May, M.D.
In the last post, you learned why diets don’t work long term for most people. Many people with diabetes have dieted numerous times and know first-hand the feelings of deprivation and strong cravings that result from restriction. Besides diets ignore other reasons you might want to eat that have very little to do with calories or nutrient qualities of food.
If you’ve struggled with diets in the past, it is not realistic to expect a diagnosis of diabetes to suddenly make the problems with dieting disappear. Although you may initially feel frightened and inspired to make all sorts of changes, over time the difficulties of a restrictive diet may seem to outweigh the benefits. If this rings true for you, perhaps you are open to trying mindful eating as a different way to manage your diabetes.
The first and most important step is to simply become aware. (Ok, we’ll admit that it isn’t always so simple.) Why awareness? Awareness is a powerful tool for understanding your food and eating choices. This skill, which we’ll continue to explore in this blog, helps people discover that eating can actually be fun and enjoyable even when they have diabetes!
Let’s look at an example of how you might use awareness. When you are diagnosed with diabetes you soon learn about the importance of carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates have the single greatest effect on your blood sugars, this is a great place to focus your awareness.
Many people ask, “How much carbohydrate can I have?” This approach is similar to being back on a diet so it may begin to feel limiting and restricting, and therefore unsustainable. Instead, shift your focus from limiting and restricting to awareness. Notice how many carbohydrates you’re eating, then consider experimenting with the amount and discover how your body responds.
Have fun, explore, experiment. If you have a hard time remembering, consider keeping a journal. My grandmother had a wonderful expression: “Your memory only has to be as sharp as a pencil.” In our next post we will talk about target blood sugars and how a blood glucose log can help expand awareness.