Whole 30 and Type 1 Diabetes

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Phew, I’ve spent the last month eating the Whole 30 diet and blogging about it.  It’s been an interesting journey as I’ve never eaten particularly healthy, having chips and cupcakes as my vices.  I recapped my experience on my last post, but one thing I didn’t touch on was how the Whole 30 affected my Type 1 diabetes.

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for almost 24 years.  I have always just eaten whatever I wanted as long as I bolused for it.  With the exception being when I was first diagnosed and I was allowed one treat per week, which is funny now because some “treats” have less carbs then some of the food I was eating, but I digress.  Eating whatever I wanted provided some nice roller coasters rides for my blood sugars when I would miscalculate carbs or if my carb ratios weren’t correct.  I never really thought twice about what I was eating as long as I could cover the carbs with insulin.

Over the years, I’ve slowly worked hard to get my A1C below seven, having finally achieved that about 4 years ago.  I’ve kept it there thanks mainly in part to pregnancy but now that I’m not pregnant anymore (and probably won’t be again), I’ve struggled to find the motivation/time to keep my blood sugars “stable”.

When I discovered the Whole 30, I did it mainly to try and get some more energy (which I achieved!) and to lose some weight (also achieved!).  But throughout the thirty day journey, I also managed to improve my blood sugars! I had been struggling with my blood sugars postpartum and I was averaging around 185 mg/dls.  During the four weeks of the Whole 30, my average blood sugar decreased to 157 mg/dls.  I also went from around 36 units of insulin per day to 28.  During the first week of the Whole 30, I reported slightly better results but over the course of the 30 days, it averaged out a little higher.

Blood sugars/Insulin use prior to Whole 30

Whole 30 and Type 1 Diabetes

Blood Sugars/Insulin Use during Whole 03

Even though my average was higher than I was hoping for, my blood sugars were much more stable.  I didn’t have a bunch of highs and lows.  I think I would have seen better results but I just didn’t carb count too well.  I ate starches like potatoes most meals and I never took the time to properly count how many carbs they were.   I was also afraid of getting low so I erred on the side of high.  The first week I had two low blood sugars and had to “cheat” and eat fruit snacks to treat my lows.  I never found a good way to treat lows that wasn’t technically cheating (they say health comes before Whole 30 so it wasn’t technically a cheat).  Bananas make my blood sugar too high and other fruit just isn’t as quick to treat as a banana.

Prior to starting the Whole 30, I never ate a balanced plate.  I think making sure half my plate is veggies and the other half is split between protein, fats and fruit is really helpful in preventing blood sugar spikes.  If I could figure out how to carb count correctly (along with correct carb ratios) then I think I would have seen great results on the Whole 30 with my diabetes.  I also think I could reduce the amount of potatoes I eat but I was eating more than I probably should because I am also breastfeeding.

If you are thinking about doing the Whole 30 with Type 1 diabetes, the book The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom provides some information (although not a lot).  The Whole 30 blog also has some testimonials on Whole 30 and Type 1 diabetes.  As a word of caution though, I love the main points of this program but some of the claims I find a bit ridiculous.  Point in case, the Whole 30 newsletter came out yesterday (perfect timing with this blog post) and in it a girl claims she no longer needs insulin after eating Whole 30 with her Type 1 diabetes.  Apparently, it received a lot of backlash because they sent a follow up email stating how they should have asked more questions and it was more a miracle than the norm.  When I first read the post (can’t find it online now so I’m guessing they took it down), it made me mad because there is NO way I could ever go without insulin and if someone were to read that, they might think “hey Kelley, you don’t really have diabetes, you could just eat this way” which is totally false.  The girl in the story was just diagnosed last year so I’m wondering if she is still in her honeymoon period or maybe she’s Type 1.5 or something else is going on?  Even days when I have the stomach flu and haven’t eaten for three days, I still need insulin! I wish I could just eat right and never need insulin again but that just isn’t the case.

Overall, I’m happy with how the Whole 30 helped get my blood sugars in better control.  I still have a lot of work to do to get them back in shape after having baby but I am on the right track.  I would love to do another round of the Whole 30 once my carb ratios and basal rates are better and I have the time to actually count the potatoes I’m eating.


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