T1D Living

Foods to Avoid For Type 1 Diabetics blog post

Foods to Avoid For Type 1 Diabetics

When I got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes one of the many questions that I had racing through my mind was, are there foods to avoid for type 1 diabetics?  Right next to, shit, what am I going to put in my fall candy dish now?  Yes, we all react to major life changes in our own odd ways that sometimes don’t make any sense at all. But when I asked the doctors if there are foods to avoid for type 1 diabetics her answer was more odd than my candy dish debacle… and looking back, was probably the worst piece of ‘advice’ I’ve ever gotten as a diabetic…

Increase your carbs, eat whatever you want, just cover it with insulin and you’ll be fine.

I should have trusted my instinct. I should have done more research. I knew something didn’t seem right when she told me, a person whose body could no longer process sugar, to eat more sugar. But instead I stayed, listened, and took her advice.

The next seven years were THE WORST blood sugar numbers I’ve ever had in my life. It was a constant roller coaster ride that was leaving me burnt out and feeling like complete shit.

roller coaster BG

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I don’t blame my doctor for my own personal diabetes management. But I will say that following her advice was HALF of my problem.

Certain Foods WILL and DO Cause Chaos

Foods Diabetics Should Avoid T1D

Technically, yes, I can eat whatever I want and not die… as long as I give myself insulin. Even an XL hot fudge sundae with cherries, bananas, sprinkles, and cookie dough bits is not off limits. HOWEVER….

My insulin… the one that is made in a lab…. is not the same insulin that a non-diabetic’s body naturally makes and it does not work the same way.

My insulin is much slower.

My insulin is not as efficient.

My insulin is not real insulin.

My insulin injections are also based on loose math and a guestimate. If that estimate is wrong, my body doesn’t produce more insulin or glucose (at least not efficiently) to fix the mistake. This mistake can be really big or really small depending on how many carbs I ate. For example, miss-judging a salad that had 10 carbs instead of 15 won’t cause as much damage as a lasagna dinner that had 80 carbs instead of 40.

insulin made in lab

Foods I Avoid (or Limit)

As a person with diabetes, I like to have a ‘you ain’t slowing me down’ kind of attitude. However, It’s important to know your personal limits; and when this attitude is actually causing harm.

Personally, for me, eating 40+ carbs per meal and trying to time it perfectly so that I didn’t ever exceed a BG of 140 mg/dL simply wasn’t working.

This is why I now follow a lower-carb way of eating. Anything with a ton of carbs or sugar I avoid or find a low-carb substitute.

lettuce wrap

  • Cereal becomes nut & seed cereal
  • Sandwich bread becomes giant romaine leaves or an open face sandwich
  • Pasta becomes spaghetti squash
  • Pancakes become low-carb pancakes
  • Dessert becomes fat bombs
  • Tacos become taco salads
  • Rice becomes cauliflower rice

…you get the idea.


Be Realistic and Find Balance

It’s all about balance and being realistic about what’s going to work for YOU; not someone else.

I know it’s not realistic for me to totally banish bread, so I don’t. But instead of having a full on sandwich with two pieces of bread and a side of chips I’ll have an open face sandwich (one piece of bread) and a side of pickles or cucumbers. Or maybe I’ll ditch the sandwich bread and opt for lettuce leaf instead – pairing my lettuce-wrapped-sandwich with a side of homemade zucchini bread.

Find your balance and cut yourself some slack! And if a high-carb diet is your thing and you can master the bolus for a 80g carb pasta dinner without ever exceeding a BG of 140mg/dL then more power to you! Do what works for you and be honest with yourself.

Finally Getting Off The Roller Coaster

Type 1 diabetes + roller coaster blood sugars (especially around meals) were just something I thought went hand-in-hand. I never imagined, nor did I want to admit, that my diet was actually doing some REAL damage now that I had diabetes.

I realized the hard truth that just because I can eat something doesn’t mean I should.

I started to dial it back on the carbs about three years ago and immediately saw a drop in insulin resistance. And now, when I miscalculated a snack or meal bolus, the hit isn’t that bad; not like before.

Play small, lose small. Bad advice for gambling but turns out great advice for diabetes management.

A typical meal for me now has between 10-15g of net carbs, never exceeding 30g. This has helped my blood sugars immensely and naturally keeps me away from a lot of packaged/processed foods. My diet is filled with colorful vegetables, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, fruits, nuts & seeds, and lots of healthy fats.

I still enjoy smoothies and cookies on a weekly basis, but my recipes have changed so they aren’t loaded with carbs and sugar.

Curious to Learn More?

If you’re curious about this style of eating, I found Dr. Bernstein’s book to be incredibly eye opening. Although I don’t agree with him 100% (he recommends artificial sweeteners and dairy products as part of this eating style) I do think he makes a lot of great points and I loved both of his books.

diabetes solution bernstein

Get Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution HERE

diabetes diet bernstein

Get The Diabetes Diet by Dr. Bernstein HERE

Question of the Day

Is there a particular food or food group that you avoid since having T1D?


Foods to Avoid For Type 1 Diabetics pinterest

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Leave A Comment

  1. Julie F September 21, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Pizza. Cannot do pizza. I agree, it’s not worth the headache of chasing numbers throughout the day.

    • T1D Living September 25, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      I could never get pizza right either! Such a hard food to bolus for.

  2. Laura September 25, 2017 at 11:28 am - Reply

    We too have been told to let our son eat whatever he wants, “just dose for it, you’re fine!”. We’re new to it so that’s what we’re doing, plus he’s five so it’s hard to get him to not have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on bread, and to opt for low carb instead. It goes against my instincts though! I’m g free so I’m used to low carb eating naturally and finding ways around bread. My issue though, is he gets half a unit for every 15 g of carbs, if his meal is less than 15 carbs, do I still dose him that half unit, even if it may be too much insulin? I’m used to higher carb meals and covering with insulin. Is low carb okay for a growing 5 year old boy?

    • T1D Living September 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Kids & those newly diagnosed are so sensitive to insulin, it can be tricky at first. When I was in-between doses I would either eat more to get up to that half unit or make it a bit lower carb and give no units.

      And as far as lower carb for kids, I think as long as you’re not being too restrictive, lower carb is great for kids. When we have children they will probably be eating under 100g daily (on average). Which is easy when you’re eating mostly paleo, which it sounds like you are 🙂

  3. Misty September 25, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Bread, pizza, muffins….. all of my favourite pre-diabetes foods even if I try to make them healthier.
    The past 6 months or so I’ve cut out gluten, dairy and soy. OMG what a difference that made in my BG. And as a bonus I lost 10 pounds!

    • T1D Living September 26, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      I hear ya! Bread is my weakness. I noticed a big difference when I cut out dairy, gluten, and soy too. And how awesome that you lost 10lbs!

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