When Tiffany Kingsley was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years ago, the medicine she was prescribed was making her sick. So she decided to take a different route, opting to instead manage her sugar levels with diet and exercise.
Turns out Kingsley with was initially misdiagnosed—she later learned that she actually has LADA, a slow progressing form of type 1 diabetes that’s commonly mistaken for type 2. Kingsley’s vow to commit to a healthier lifestyle, though, remained intact.
Yes—there have been countless recent studies that show a low-calorie diet can manage and sometimes reverse type 2 diabetes, but what about type 1?
When she was first diagnosed, Kingsley said she was constantly hearing that—unlike type 2 diabetics—type 1 diabetics can eat whatever they wanted as long as they’re taking the insulin that their body is unable to produce. She wasn’t convinced.
“As I did more research, I realized that it isn’t wise to depend solely on medicine to deal with a disease like diabetes,” says Kingsley. “In fact, in general, I now believe that healthy food and lifestyle changes should be the first step towards achieving health goals…drugs should only be used if other more natural methods aren’t enough.”
She’s not alone in this theory. Blogging about diabetes management through lifestyle changes has become increasingly popular online, and according to Richard K. Bernstein, in his book “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution,” diet is a huge contributor in successfully managing type 1 diabetes.
Kingsley’s new lifestyle includes eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and natural whole foods as well as incorporating healthy fats like seeds and nuts into most meals and snacks. She tries to limit her carbohydrates count to 30 grams of carbs per meal.
“I still eat sweets, but have found healthy ways to prepare them—using almond flour and xylitol to lower carbs and add nutrients,” said Kingsley.
“I don’t eat gluten or dairy,” she added.
And without gluten or dairy in her diet, Kingsley notes she also feels more energetic–making an effort to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
All of this combined, she says, is what’s allowed her to successfully control her A1C—a test that measures levels of blood sugar.
“I’ve used my low-carb eating, along with the insulin, to get my A1C down to 6.0, which is almost as low as someone without diabetes,” says Kingsley.
Kingsley admits that “breaking the addition of food”—especially foods high in carbs—wasn’t easy. The antidote to that problem was creating creative, low-carb recipes on her lifestyle blog.
“People choose to go with the ‘drugs first’ mentality when living with diseases, because they are afraid of eating gross food,” said Kingsley. “I would encourage these people to make it through the first few weeks of a new, healthy diet, because it takes a while to get past the addictions. I settled into a pattern of eating that I actually enjoy.”
And it’s advice for people with diseases and illnesses beyond diabetes, she notes.
“I believe that the first line of defense against any disease should be to make wise decisions about what to put in your body,” says Kingsley.
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