From One Diabetic to Another: Making Your Eating Habits Work with Diabetes

Note: If you were recently diagnosed, this article will work a lot better for you. If you’ve been a Diabetic for a long time, you may already have a method that works for you – great! Or, if you’re looking for a little change in your old routine, consider taking food ideas from here a la carte style.

Do bear in mind that even if you have been a Diabetic for a long time (such as myself; have been a Type 1 for over twenty years now) you can still make little changes. I fell victim to trying to eat as “normal” as possible and indulge in the same foods my non-Diabetic boyfriend/friends would eat, only to suffer from relentless high glucose readings from processed foods and an overall crummy feeling.

Also, I am in no way a doctor or certified to discuss this as a health professional. I am talking about what has worked for me as a Type 1 Diabetic for over twenty years. Please take this as friendly advice and not medical advice. Thank you.

I have definitely made some big and little changes, and trust me, they did not happen overnight. It’s taken me about half a year to fully incorporate my new eating habits, and it is still an on-going process as I try new things or continue to find what works well for me.
To give you a better understanding of how I eat, let me summarize it in a few words:

I eat lean meats, plenty of greens, and clean foods (not processed). Hence the term “lean, clean, and green.” I also no longer eat cheese (yes, I willingly cut cheese out from my diet) or drink milk, but I do still have yogurt (non-fat Greek yogurt to be precise). I eat minimal carbs, and watch my sodium and sugar intake as well. (And before you say anything, this is not an abridged version of that Atkins diet; it’s a lifestyle of whole foods.)

Just to clear up some bewilderment, I know as a Diabetic cheese is a “free-food,” meaning you can snack on it and not have to worry about it really affecting your blood sugars. And I ate cheese quite often; in fact I grew up around cheese – my dad used to bring me little snack plates of apples and cheese, or we’d get fancy wedges (such as bleu or brie) to snack on. I definitely grew up in a cheese-loving household, which made the habit of wanting to eat cheese difficult to shake off.

Why did I cut out cheese if it’s a “free-food?” I stopped eating cheese due to the bloat and the caloric intake. Not eating cheese was more of a weight-loss move than a move related to being a Diabetic.

If you can’t give up cheese, that’s fine! If you want to try giving it up, slowly wean yourself away from it and get used to eating things that you would normally eat with cheese, without. Cheeses that help with the weaning process should be low-calorie cheeses such as Feta (buy reduced fat version, feta can be saturated fat heavy).

Other than that, I don’t eat cheese and I don’t have the desire to either (to my boyfriend’s disbelief [he’s a cheese lover])!

I also watch my sugar intake (obviously)! What do I mean by that? I mean, next time you go shopping and inspect those nutrition fact labels, check out to see how many grams of sugar are in one serving of what you’re about to purchase. If it reads more than 10g, dump it. Some people recommend a little more (like 15g). I prefer to keep it to a nice even number such as 10 so I can remember it easily when shopping.

If you’re also struggling with weight-loss, reducing your sugar intake helps with the process of losing weight because when you consume sugar it adds additional calories to your diet. Therefore, reducing sugar = reducing caloric intake.

Before you start throwing away everything that has a trace of sugar in it, keep in mind that natural sources of sugar are ok! Take fruit for example, it’s nutritious and is nature’s version of sugar, not the type you find in fizzy soft-drinks or processed foods.

I also eat minimal carbohydrates from sources such as breads and pastas because I have discovered that they do not cooperate well with my glucose readings. Pasta is a definite culprit of having spiked my glucose readings for hours upon hours. So, instead of dealing with the carb-crashing and the insane glucose levels, I just subtracted pasta from my eating habits.

If you like pasta and it does not have an adverse effect on your blood sugars after eating, then definitely consider a high-fiber pasta or brown rice pasta (which is gluten-free, tastes lighter and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down, a.k.a., carb crashing).

Why high-fiber? Having sources of high-fiber is GREAT for Diabetics, because it helps control glucose levels by slowing down sugar absorption. Think of it this way: fiber-dense foods take longer to digest, which means instead of spiking your glucose levels it will gradually increase them.

Can I get fiber from other foods too? In addition to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are fiber-dense! Load up on ‘em!

If you’re thinking of removing pasta and bread from your eating habits, or even cutting back, consider supplementing a vegetable version of well-loved carb-laden dishes. For example, cauliflower mash is a great supplement to mashed potatoes and spaghetti squash is an awesome substitute to regular spaghetti.

Just to give you an idea of some things I eat for meals, here’s a little breakdown. Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @emilygetsfit because I post photos of meals per day there too.

Breakfast can be one of the following:
– Non-fat Greek yogurt with fruit of my choice (I usually do 1 cup or ½ cup blueberries)

– “Barbara’s Puffins” cereal (they have a decent amount of fiber and are not too sugary) with 1 cup almond milk (you don’t feel bloated, plus 1 cup is only 6 carbs depending on which “flavor” you choose – I like vanilla)

– 3 egg white scramble loaded with veggies

Lunch ideas:
– Low-carb whole wheat tortilla wrap (I get “La Tortilla Factory” brand, only 6 net carbs for a whole wrap) with lean meat and veggies

– Salad with some form of protein and balsamic dressing
– Whole wheat sandwich (choose mustard not mayo; if you can get bread bands such as Ezekiel or Dave’s Killer Bread, those are best because they’re fiber-dense!)

Dinner ideas:
– Quinoa (similar to couscous in texture, is protein dense)

– Homemade turkey burgers (buy ground turkey, prep burgers, and then grill!)
– Chicken with salad/some salad with protein on the side
– Shrimp with quinoa
– Etc.!

Snack attack ideas:
– Hummus with baby carrots
– 5 strawberries are only about 4/5 carbs!
ThinkThin bars are non-dairy, non-gluten “snack” bars, they have very little carbohydrates in them and taste yummy
Kashi bars are great too, especially if your glucose runs low frequently

– “Free” veggies such as cucumber slices, etc.

I really hope this gives everyone a better idea of what to eat or how to eat! I find this works best for me, so feel free to pick and pull whatever you think will work for you. Good luck to my fellow Diabetics and lots of love <3

– Emily


5 Day Slim Down: Day 5, the Last Day!

Yesterday was my last day on the 5 day slim down, wow does it go by fast! It’s also a lot less regimented than the 7 day slim down. In all honesty though, I cannot decide which version I like more! Thank goodness for us Tone It Up gals being able to mix and match the various slim down recipes, right? ;)

Before I go into the details of yesterday let me just say a few things … First and foremost, I dropped 3 pounds! Woohoo for shedding stubborn weight!

I also officially began my journey into Nursing/Nutrition when I registered for my first class at the University of Washington yesterday! It’s going to be a long journey, but well worth it. Go Huskies!

I also skipped my workout(s) yesterday because my boyfriend and I were running around non-stop yesterday. We accomplished so much (more details below), and I was absolutely drained. We’ll just call yesterday an active rest day.

Alright, into the nitty gritty:

I woke up and sadly had no time for my bombshell spell or a Beach Babe edition meal, so I had 1 piece of whole wheat bread with almond butter and 1/2 a banana.

My “tankini” was Guava Goddess Kombucha. I absolutely love it! This is my new favorite flavor hands down.

Afterwards my boyfriend and I grabbed a bite to eat before we began our errands, we went to one of my favorite little cafes in the Tacoma area called Espresso Yourself

I ordered their “Garden Turkey Sandwich” (on whole wheat) which has roasted turkey, pesto mayo, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, tomato, lettuce, sprouts and havarti cheese. I always ask for no cheese and Dijon mustard instead of mayo. I also got a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette. So good, and so filling!

Afterwards my boyfriend and I went to our local World Market, it’s a little like Pier One and a little like TJ Maxx because they carry food products from all over the world.

We purchased an awesome hanging basket to keep all of my fruit organized instead of overflowing the counter in our kitchen, some new gorgeous coasters, and an amazing elaborate coat hanger for when guests visit.

I’m loving everything, but the fruit basket has made our kitchen space so much less cluttered!

Afterwards we headed over the mall where my boyfriend made a pit-stop at Jamba Juice (no thanks, too much sugar for this Diabetic) and then patiently waited for me while I purchased some new shorts and a top from American Eagle Outfitters.

The purple shorts are a size 6! I thought they were a size 8 until I checked the label. Surprise to me ;) Also the new top is a medium, usually I have to purchase a large to fit around my chest/back, but this fit very comfortably in both areas.

We finally made our way towards home, I ate my post-lunch snack of an apple as we stopped off at Home Depot to purchase some new potted plants. We got a lot of great stuff, but the coolest plant we purchased was lavender! How lovely!

And finally once we got home, I purged my closet of old clothing and filled an entire “trash” bag with donate-able clothing. It felt so good to get rid of old items that didn’t fit due to weight loss, or were too old.

It was an absolutely busy day! Other meals I had were:

Grapes and carob chips due to low blood sugar

Kale salad with nutritional yeast, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon and red wine vinegar, a homemade turkey burger with mustard and strawberries.

And I also moved my Omnipod to my arm again … Was  a little concerned about highs, went to bed high due to possibly not bolusing enough. Then woke up around 4am high, and dosed a correction. We’ll see how the new location of the pod goes, I’m worried about the absorbancy not being good enough on my arm, but I really want to give my midsection a break. Especially since the last pod I just took off left a little scabby red pump after removal (what’s that all about?)

I hope everyone is having a great Tone It Up Tuesday!

– Emily

5 Day Slim Down: Day 4, a Rather Disorganized Day

Let’s just start this post off by saying I barely ate what is on the actual 5 day slim down plan today. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean I ate food that is processed/”bad” for you, I just didn’t follow the plan directly. Don’t worry! I definitely made sure to eat lean, clean, and green.

So, you’re probably wondering what happened today?

I slept through my alarm and missed my booty call workout. I also missed having time to make a 5 day slim down approved breakfast … Instead I had 3/4 a cup of peanut butter and chocolate cereal and 1 cup vanilla flavored almond milk.


I did get to squeeze in my “tankini” while at church, which was the remaining 1/2 of my Hibiscus Kombucha.

Around the time for my “one-piece” my blood sugar was low, so I had some orange juice and a granola bar.

After church was over, I ran out for a quick bite with my boyfriend, his brother, and their grandmother at a little diner not too far from the church called Pine Cone Cafe … I don’t even know where to begin with this place, but let’s just say it was not my choice to eat there.


I tried to make my lunch as lean, clean, and green as possible (which is really hard to do when the food you’re receiving was frozen prior to them cooking it). I also had an apple in my purse, which I ate after lunch since I was still hungry.

My boyfriend and I then ran some errands, and stopped at one of my favorite natural foods markets called Marlene’s Market to purchase some Mama Chia drinks and Kombucha. Let’s not even discuss how I spent $33 dollars on those beverages! (Addicted much?)

ImageCurrently it’s fairly late in the evening, but when I got home I helped myself to a banana with some carob chips due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia is always a good excuse to eat carob chips) and began cleaning my apartment for at least an hour and a half. My boyfriend and I got a lot done together, and it served as a mini-warmup to our post-cleaning run.

We ran for approximately 20/30 minutes at a strong pace, and then I did Karena’s Summer Arms and various ab moves afterwards. This was the first time I ran with my Omnipod attached to me, and I’m pleased to say it went really well! Once I got over the sensation of the pod moving and the adhesive pulling at my skin with the motion (trust me, it sounds worse than it is) I was able to go at my usual pace and even sprint!

Overall, I’m feeling pretty darn good today. Even though I was pretty off track with the slim down I still stuck to the lean, clean and green rule :)

In other news, I woke up feeling super light today. When I weighed myself out of curiosity the scale read “136”


That’s 6 pounds away from my goal, holy smokes!


Heck, I was feeling so good this morning I wore a pair of jeans that barely used to fit and a top that I could barely squeeze into when I initially bought it.


(Sorry for the flash, ack!)

What was also interesting was since I didn’t take my multivitamin this morning, I noticed I was feeling so lethargic. Once I took it I had enough energy to clean non-stop, then go workout! It’s amazing what nutrients can do for our bodies.

I hope that you ladies have an amazing start to your week tomorrow, and that your days are not as disorganized as mine!

– Emily <3