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Can I Go Vegan if I Have Type 1 Diabetes?

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Here at home, from an early age, we’ve always been very careful with our food choices. My mum was always very concerned and careful with what I ate since I was a baby. And as I grew, that attention and responsibility passed a little bit to me.

It was in high school that I decided to start being a vegetarian. At the time there was still little information about these alternative diet choices and the food supply in the supermarkets, back then, was very small compared to today’s. Honestly, I don’t even remember why I made that decision. Maybe because I stopped drinking milk and yoghurt and that forced me to look for other alternatives. No one in my circle of friends was, but I still decided to go ahead, and started researching more about it.

During my journey, I was never very consistent. I started as a vegetarian who ate eggs and fish, then I had times I didn’t eat fish but ate eggs. For 2 years I managed to be vegetarian without consuming any animal products, but then I fell into a pizza or a cake that contained eggs. But you know what? It’s OK.

During these years I learned a lot, from wonderful vegetarian recipes, to how to keep the balance and stop censoring myself  for having exceptional situations. I read, saw many documentaries, learned, and found my reason for defending veganism, but in the middle of all of this, Type 1 Diabetes appeared.

For a few months after my diagnosis (2014), I believed that maybe being a vegetarian would not be so easy now with diabetes. In my ignorance, I tried not to overindulge in the consumption of fruits and carbs and bet more on foods low in carbohydrates so as I wouldn’t need to give so much insulin and to avoid rising BS. Although I didn’t eat meat, I sometimes ate fish and had some snacks with cheese (0 carbs). At the time, not much was published about the consequences that fat had on blood sugar ​​after a few hours. I was just focusing on the insulin units and not on what my body needed, the nutrients, the energy.

If you plan to start a vegetarian diet, please talk to your doctor and nutritionist. There will be some changes in insulin sensitivity and eating enough nutrients and calories is crucial. Nowadays, I’m seen by two nutritionists, one at APDP and a nutritionist that also has type 1 diabetes, who helped me a lot and made me feel understood.

Following a vegetarian diet and having diabetes is possible!

Over the years I have learned that we don’t have to be afraid of Carbohydrates, they are not the enemy of diabetes. Fats and processed foods rich in carbs, which are different, are.

Whole grains, fruit, and legumes are the basis of a healthy diet. A good HC counting with the complement of physical exercise is key for everything to work.

Learning new recipes and planning our meals doesn’t have to be a problem, with the diversity of content we find online today it’s easier than ever. We just have to be selective and know what’s best for us.

In recent years, numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of vegetarian diets in preventing diseases. Concerning diabetes and the best diet for better blood glucose control, there is still no consensus. Which doesn’t surprise me since we’re all different. However, it is more than shown the benefits vegetarianism brings to our health and the prevention of numerous diseases such as type II diabetes, obesity, stroke, among others.

One of the pros of this diet is the rise of insulin sensitivity. Although it is beneficial, as it prevents and improves diabetes control it has to be watched very carefully to avoid hypoglycemia, especially if we are transitioning from a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet.

Don’t be afraid, bet on your health and the health of our planet.

Inês
My name is Inês but you can call me Mell. What both names have in common? Nothing, I know. But let me tell you my story. On the 30th of October of 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The Mellow Mell designation has a very simple explanation. The scientific name for Diabetes is Diabetes Mellitus, therefore the name Mell. Mellow means relax/amicable such as my glucose levels should be. Follow me on Instagram (mell_t1d) and visit my blog for veggie recipes and more (www.mellowmell.com)

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