There seems to be a food fight among some in the type 1 diabetes community. We hear the following comments from people who do not yet understand our point of view:
“It is impossible to treat type 1 with food alone. If you can, then your kids are not truly type 1.”
Or, “Diet alone is not the answer. It’s a combination with the most important key being insulin.”
Or, similarly, “Type 1 diabetes can only be managed with insulin. Diet and exercise do have an impact, but it cannot be managed with these alone.”
We understand that perspective, but we think it needs to be tweaked a little bit to be more accurate.
We believe that for type 1 diabetes food matters more than what we are led to believe at the time of diagnosis. The typical treatment plan places a priority on drug therapies – primarily insulin – over diet and exercise. While insulin and other medications are vital and can help manage the symptoms associated with diabetes, they are not designed to treat the root causes of this disease.
We are glad that insulin is available and must remain an important part of the type one diabetic’s treatment plan. However, we also believe the priority of insulin over lifestyle, including dietary choices must be reversed; that transforming lifestyle and diet should take precedence over drug therapies or at least be brought up to hold equal weight with medications. This natural treatment approach may reduce or in some cases completely eliminate dependence on medications. It may set the diabetic on a path to better health and vitality resulting in fewer long term complications associated with sustained blood sugar highs and frequent lows. It has certainly done that for us.
That is one of our goals; to help people realize the importance of food and lifestyle in the management of type 1 diabetes. We endeavor to show people how the practical application of food and lifestyle changes can help them better manage their diabetes. It seems that the type 2 diabetes folks are getting that message to some degree, but the type 1 diabetes community doesn’t seem to hear it as clearly. The disease management focus seems to be too heavily on drugs. We think that should be corrected. We think Lifestyle IS important in the management of type 1 diabetes, not only for short term management, but also for long term health. While nearly everybody would agree with that statement, there is great disparity over what that actually means in every-day life.
Some people with type 1 diabetes (especially the newly diagnosed) who make diet and lifestyle choices a higher priority by implementing the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle do seem to be able to get off insulin because their blood sugars level out within normal ranges and they are still able to produce enough of their own insulin to compensate for the greatly-reduced carbohydrate loads being place on their bodies. How long does this phenomenon last? We don’t know. We do know that for some it is just a short while. For others, the effect lasts much longer. For still others these results are still ongoing – for years now.
In short, we believe that managing diabetes with insulin alone is not as effective as managing it with diet, lifestyle and insulin (when needed) – all working together to provide optimal blood sugar management and better health.
Is insulin important? Absolutely. But in our opinion it is not the only key, or most important key to diabetes management. Making healthier lifestyle choices is just as important. We believe we need to tip the scales back toward lifestyle and its treatment benefits in order to have more balanced management of type one diabetes.