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I May Have Diabetes but I Still Hate to Diet

By Michelle May, M.D.
Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE 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.

bowl of salad with tongsIf 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.

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

2 Comments

  1. What food items ie vegetables,fruits,spices etc help in reducing diabetes?

  2. Megrette Fletcher says:

    That is a great question. Diabetes is diagnosed when a person’s blood sugar is greater than 126 mg/dl before eating or 200 mg/dl after eating. There are a lot of things that contribute to blood sugar elevation, including food. In our next post we’ll talk about awareness of carbohydrates which have the single greatest effect on a person’s blood sugar.
    Carbohydrates are found in starchy vegetables such as potatoes (sweet and white), orange squash, peas, corn, and parsnips; grains and grain products such as pasta, bread, cereals, and crackers; dairy such as milk, and yogurt; and fruit (fresh, canned, dried, and juice). Processed foods such as chips, dessert, soda, and candy can have a surprising amount of carbohydrate when you look at the listed serving size.
    This doesn’t mean that you should worry about eating carbohydrates; 45-75 grams of carbohydrates per meal is part of a healthy diet. Start by becoming aware of how many carbohydrates you eat at one time. Then check back to learn more about how mindful eating can help you enjoy the foods you choose.

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