Diabetes and Intuitive Eating

As you know by now, I’m all about intuitive eating (IE) and the non-diet approach.  I read and hear a lot about people with diabetes fearing and believing that because of their medical condition, they can’t and will never have the opportunity to eat intuitively.  I completely disagree with this.  What is intuitive eating all about?  It’s about connecting your body with your mind.  It’s about learning to recognize and listen to your hunger and fullness (satiety) signals.  It’s about mindful eating and coping with your emotions without using food.  It’s about respecting your body and learning to exercise in ways that feel good, as well as respecting your body by honoring it with the nutrition that supports it and helps it to thrive.  Doesn’t all of this sound perfect for someone with diabetes?!  See, you CAN eat intuitively with diabetes.

I personally think that IE should be part of all diabetic education, especially those with type-1 diabetes.  Eating disorders are almost twice as likely to occur in diabetic patients, especially those with type-1 diabetes.  It’s been shown that 30-40% of teens/young adults with diabetes skip insulin after their meals as a means to lose weight.  This is not healthy or safe.  In fact, poor blood sugar control can lead to major, extremely dangerous complications.  When we teach diabetics to focus on numbers, counting, and portion control without factoring in their mental and emotional health, it puts them at a greater risk for developing obsessive behaviors around food, weight, and their bodies.  This is where IE can be extremely helpful.

Contrary to what some people may think, IE is not about eating cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s about learning to eat by simply tuning in to your own body and mind.  It’s about never following another diet in your life.  It’s about not needing to google if you should be eating carbohydrates or oils.  It’s about shutting out all the gibberish regarding any kind of diet or eating routine/regimen.  You’ll learn what foods feel best in your body.  You’ll learn how eating too much of any food (including sugar) will make you and your body feel.  You’ll learn that you don’t have to (and you probably won’t want to) clean your plate just because it’s in front of you.  You may even learn that the cupcakes you’ve secretly been bingeing on don’t even taste good and in fact, you dislike them all together.

Now, will all of that come to you overnight?  Absolutely not.  It’s a long process, as is anything.  But the longer you do it, the more experience and knowledge you’ll gain.  The bottom-line is that you want and deserve to feel good in your body.  Following a set diet and being hyperfocused on numbers is not likely to lead you down a path of peaceful eating.  And eating should be peaceful – not chaotic or tied up in morals.  If you eat a piece of cake and also happen to be a diabetic, you are not a bad person.  Nor does it mean that you have sabotaged your health.  We need to teach diabetics differently.  If you’re reading this and you are diabetic, don’t think you’re any different than anyone else, because you’re not.  And you deserve to live a happy, mindful, peaceful life 🙂

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!!

A recent tofu sandwich with plum sauce made by a co-worker.  Such a nice treat for something different 🙂

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