Monday, December 4, 2017

The Importance of Being Your Own Nutrition Advocate


Throughout my work in nutrition, my time studying nutrition and dietetics in college, living with type 1 diabetes, and generally just being a person in society, I have learned that people can be weird about food. It’s a touchy subject; controversial, even. Everyone's an expert. And to some extent, that’s true. But not in the way you might think. I believe that some people, people who are in tune with their body’s needs and who listen to their body, are experts. But these people are only experts in what works for them. I believe this is a very important distinction to make. This distinction allows us to feel empowered by ourselves and our experiences, as well as allows us to trust ourselves and our bodies, which is infinitely important for everyone, but especially vital for people like me (and maybe you?) living with type 1 diabetes.

I have been living with type 1 diabetes for over 13 years and it has taken me much trial and error, research, education, self-empowerment and self-love to figure out what style of eating and what foods work for me. As someone who routinely gives advice and counsels people on nutrition, it is important for me to understand that all of us are unique and have different needs, desires and genetics. That’s why I never just dish out or recommend my personal diet, because I am unique, and so are you. Because of this belief, I disagree with very general, recommended diets that are supposed to apply to a very diverse group of people. While it is beyond easy to find information on carbohydrate counting, exchange lists, and ADA recommendations, you can’t exactly Google “What’s the perfect diet for me?” and get a useful answer.

Don’t you just wish you had someone who always had your best interest at heart who could tell you exactly what you should eat, exactly how much, and exactly what will help you feel your best? And don’t you wish that same person would make all your meals or come with you to restaurants so there was no way anyone else could talk you into having something that’s going to make you feel like crap later?

You do. It’s you.


I can’t write enough how empowering and how important it is to be your own nutrition advocate. You are the only one who knows what diet works for you and you have to fight for that. People won’t always understand or even be supportive. They will think they know what’s best for you better than you do, and they will use all the nutrition information they get from the media about type 2 diabetes to try and convince you that you just need to give up sugar (LOL). I know this is easier said than done. Even as someone with a degree in nutrition, I have to remind myself that I know what’s best for me and I work hard every day to practice that.

All that being said, I love reading/hearing about what other people with type 1 diabetes eat and what works for them, so I will assume that some other people are interested too and share a little about my personal diet. I have been utilizing a plant-based, gluten-free diet for about 6 years now. I chose to eat gluten-free after doing a research project in college and after learning about how commonly type 1 diabetes is linked with Celiac disease. I chose to follow a plant-based diet after reading about disease prevention and nutrition. Ideally, I use fruit and beans/legumes as my primary carbohydrate source, and I try to make sure to eat plenty of both raw and cooked vegetables every single day. I aim to eat lots of healthy fats like raw nuts, seeds, olives, avocado and coconut, and I shy away from eating too many grains as they seem to elevate my blood glucose for a longer period of time than I’m comfortable with. I try my best and work every day towards eating intuitively, which I absolutely love and prefer to following a set diet. But this is what works for me, as an individual.


Sometimes well-meaning but ill-informed people don’t understand my decisions to eat the way I do, and those are the times I have to remember to advocate for myself. Those people don’t know what my body wants, feels like, or needs. Those people also don’t have to experience a roller coaster of blood glucose swings that occur when I don’t give my body what it needs and deserves. As people living with type 1 diabetes, one of the most important tools we can have is the ability to trust ourselves, because we are experts in ourselves.

2 comments:

  1. As a vegan T1D I'd love to hear more about why you went gluten free! Any suggested resources?

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  2. Hi Sara! I went gluten-free because of the fact that people with t1d have a higher prevalence of Celiac disease than the rest of the population. The two diseases are both autoimmune and have an overlap of genetic susceptibility. For me, removing the trigger for Celiac disease (gluten) was a personal choice, but one I found to be pretty easy already eating primarily a whole foods diet. Hope this answers your question! Feel free to contact me via email or through the contact form under the "Work With Me" if you would like to discuss further!

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