I feel like that is the question as a diabetic. Carbohydrates are delicious, addictive, energy providing, and you have insulin which enables you to eat them…so why on earth wouldn’t you?
Well, these are my personal reasons for reducing my intake of them.
1. They’re impossible to accurately measure
You have to take into account your current BG level, estimate your proposed carbohydrate intake, then estimate your insulin intake to equal your postprandial (2 hour post-meal – see below) BG levels. And then dose.
Carbohydrates (meal) + Insulin + 2 hours later = Postprandial BG
Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well there are 3 little hitches in this simple equation. These are:
- Companies are allowed an error margin when labelling the carbohydrate content of their food. So even if you’re going to consume something with a label, you can’t be sure how accurate the label will be.
- There are differences in gastric emptying between people i.e. the rate at which your food is digested and moves to the intestines.
- There is up to a 30% difference in your insulin absorption. Most people are advised to inject in the abdomen because insulin is absorbed faster than if you were to inject in the upper arm, buttock or thigh.
That’s a lot of variables, which makes estimating your insulin needs to match your carbohydrate consumption next to impossible. The inevitable outcome is to go too high (hyper) or too low (hypo).
2. Being a diabetic is kinda like being carbohydrate intollerant
You wouldn’t dream of turning to an alcoholic and advise them to sip a can of beer before going to an AA meeting., the same as you wouldn’t imagine advising a person with a peanut allergy to have some nuts before using their EpiPen. You also wouldn’t think of advising someone who is lactose intolerant to have a glass of milk. All of these would be socially frowned upon.
And so I ask, why would you tell someone whose body is incapable of metabolising carbohydrates, that they require them?
Insulin was invented to keep diabetics alive, to keep their blood sugars below a dangerously high level. It was not invented to cover whatever you want to eat.
3. Your body is an incredible hybrid machine that can be adapted to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates
Being told your body needs a substantial amount of carbohydrates to survive is a downright lie. If you reduce your carbohydrate intake enough, your body will become ‘fat adapted’ – otherwise known as entering ‘ketosis‘ whereby it will burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
4. You CAN achieve a normal hba1c result…
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my HbA1c result was 12.5%, and I was already showing signs of nerve damage. Several months down the line and well into a low carbohydrate high fat diet, and my HbA1c result was 5.4% – matching that of a non-diabetic.
5…without suffering hypos or hypers.
When I was on a regular high carbohydrate diet, hypers and hypos were a weekly event, at least. Sometimes they’d occur multiple times a day, and they were exhausting. A low carbohydrate diet almost completely eliminates these risks, because you’re not eating enough carbohydrates to cause big enough blood sugar spikes. And the carbohydrates that you do eat are small enough to bolus for with a small amount of insulin – decreasing the variables mentioned above considerably and thus reducing the chance of a hypo.