I opened a health food store in my 20’s, partly because I was a vegetarian at the time – and back then grocery stores didn’t have a lot to offer.
What I considered to be my very healthy diet back then consisted primarily of fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and legumes. Having a bowl of brown rice with steamed veggies was perfect. I lived on sweet potatoes, what I understood to be one of the most nutritious, health-promoting foods available. I also had white potatoes, steamed or baked, served with big sides of salad or veggies. I had a banana virtually every single day, often frozen in a fruit smoothie, which generally also consisted of pineapple juice and frozen berries. That picture above? Something like that represented healthful eating to me a few years ago – and I loved fruit salads and such! I ate fruit without a second thought whenever I was hungry. I believed it was always a healthy choice.
For breakfast, I often ate whole grain cereals, always with fruit, and sometimes with whole grain toast. I believed oatmeal was one of the best foods to eat, so I enjoyed that frequently – topped with a banana and occasionally raisins, pecans, and honey. I was a healthy and health-minded granola and yogurt munching gal.
Here’s my problem: the joyful abandon with which I ate all of those “healthy” foods has come to a crashing halt due to diabetes. I can’t eat almost any of those foods anymore. Bananas, rice, potatoes (sweet or white), cereal, oats, etc. – all of them are bad for my blood sugar. Even legumes! My body doesn’t process them well anymore, which is really sad for me. I’m not wishing I could eat a donut. I’m wishing I could eat a sweet potato or a banana!
It’s not that I can never have a bite of sweet potato or banana, but that I can’t have them regularly – and I have to be careful and monitor more than usual when I do. And that sucks! I just mostly avoid them now. They may be healthy and nutritious choices for most people, but they are potentially dangerous for me. And that sucks!
Well, I tell myself, life isn’t always fair. I was fortunate to get to enjoy them for over 50 years. And there are still lots of tasty foods that I can enjoy now!
So, while I long for a bowl of fresh fruit-topped oatmeal or cereal and some orange juice … instead, for breakfast every morning I eat 2 eggs, accompanied by 1/2 sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter, and a small orange or 1/2 grapefruit. When I can get them, I also often add 1/2 an avocado. On occasions when my morning blood sugar is higher than I’m happy with, I cut the English muffin and add some veggies, like broccoli. I never drink any juice anymore.
For lunches and dinners, I eat veggies and salads with protein – either chicken, turkey, or beef (cause that’s all I like in the meat category and I don’t like seafood). Sometimes I’ll treat myself to pizza or something like that – but I have to be careful to not do it too frequently or I’ll see it on the blood sugar monitor pretty quickly.
These last three years have been an exploration (that is on-going) of what I can eat and still keep my blood sugar in range. I’m mostly strict, but not always. I find that if I’m too strict, I tend to get depressed or have reactionary swings where I’m like, “screw it” and then eat whatever I want. Like many things in life, it’s all about finding that balance.
In lieu of having the hamburger and fries that I sometimes crave, I’ve started having hamburger salad – which consists of lettuce, tomatoes, celery, red onions, avocado, peppers, mixed shredded cheese, bread and butter pickles, and a cut up burger (I get frozen Simple Truth burgers and cook one in a pan while I’m making the salad). Topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some sea salt. It is delicious! Objectively, it tastes better than any burger and fries I’ve ever had. Subjectively, given a choice, I would choose the burger and fries almost every time. But I don’t. Because I can’t. I mean, I could – but I’m not willing to suffer the health consequences. So, I don’t.
So, this is what it’s like for me, negotiating diabetes. While blood sugar isn’t everything regarding health, it certainly is important. Also important are other factors of social, emotional, and mental health and well-being. All of it is a dance that we learn as we go. How’s it going for you?
Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.
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2 thoughts on “When “Healthy” Foods Are No Longer Healthy Because of Diabetes”
Wow, I had zero idea that the healthy options were bad for diabetes, because that’s my exact diet at the moment. Steel cut oats and banana with berries, plus fruits galore. I guess veges are THE real healthy option, eh? Anyway, thanks for sharing all this important knowledge!
Hi Stuart ~ I think that it’s different for everyone. Even for me, some foods process differently at different times. I’ve been experimenting for years now, checking what happens to my blood sugar when I eat certain foods – like bananas. I avoided bananas entirely for almost 3 years, but now throw a half a banana in my smoothies occasionally without too much of an impact. I find that I can eat cantaloupe or honeydew melon (in moderation) – but watermelon drives my sugar up. I seem to do well with berries and citrus. So, I don’t know. Veggies, for sure seem to do well – but NOT potatoes or starchy veggies. If what you’re eating is working for you, then great! If not, maybe eat those foods less frequently. I’ve found it really helpful, too, to look up the glycemic index (GI) of different foods – then really pay attention to how foods with a higher GI level impact my blood sugar levels. Best wishes!
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