Type I Diabetes, Health, Vegan Diabetic Diet Plan
What is type 1 diabetes, excerpt from Jessica Apple’s interview with Adrian Kiger about improving her health & stabilizing blood sugar levels with a vegan diabetic diet plan
Jessica loves spending time with her sons, cooking with her husband, playing with her cats, reading, biking, drinking coffee, and whenever possible, taking a nap.
For those who aren’t familiar with diabetes, here’s a short answer to the question, “What is Type I Diabetes”?
According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.”
By contrast, millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (also known as adult onset diabetes), and many more are unaware they are at high risk. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.
Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.
Excerpt from Jessica Apple’s in-depth interview with Adrian Kiger about her vegan diabetic diet plan:
Adrian Kiger is a writer who grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia. She’s had type 1 diabetes since she was eleven. After years of struggling with weight issues and blood sugar levels, she found a diet that works for her – vegan. Adrian, who has written a children’s book ‘Veronica, the Vegetarian Diabetic’, talked to Jessica Apple at ASweetLife about her path to veganism and how it’s helped her to improve her health.
What are your protein sources?
There are so many sources of protein (on a vegan diet), you just have to educate yourself about where and in what foods they may be hiding. The protein myth has people convinced that they need much more protein than they really do.
I started to love tofu, tempeh, and beans, which are all full of protein. Tofu can be so delicious when you bake it in some soy sauce and garlic and use that in wraps with raw veggies, or on top of rice, or quinoa. I was never that attached to meat, and the textures of tofu or tempeh were not that weird for me.
What would you say to diabetics who are considering a vegan diet? Should they become vegetarians first and ease their way into veganism? Or is it better to just jump in?
Although veganism is an extremely healthful way of living that helps me to maintain stable blood sugar levels (not a small thing), as diabetics it is important that we do not feel denied. If you are considering veganism, you could try it for one week.
While you’re at it, read John Robbins’s ‘Diet For a New America.’ It is an illuminating book that made me look at food from a totally new perspective. Make your experiment fun: mix it up, research the new things you’ll cook in that week, print recipes from the internet, go to a restaurant that you love and see what vegan options there are, what side dishes you could combine, etc.
And of course, be sure to check your blood sugar regularly to make sure the change in diet is working for you. And check with your doctor before you make changes if you are concerned about your insulin regimen or other medications you take. You can write down what challenges you each day. Do you feel energized? More hassled? More creative when you cook? How were your sugars, any changes?
Go from there… if homemade vegan pizza left you wishing for the mozzarella, no biggie. Don’t judge yourself. If you can’t abstain from dairy completely, then at least you will grow an appreciation for veggies and more whole foods which are really good for you.