Has Type 1 Diabetes Affected Your Relationship with Food?


Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, or if you or someone you know’s relationship with food has become unhealthy, don’t be scared to reach out for help. The non-profit We Are Diabetes provides support, resources and education for people with type 1 diabetes who struggle with disordered eating behaviors.

Regardless of how your relationship with food takes shape, there’s no denying that type 1 diabetes affects how we think, feel and behave around food. Even if diabetes has affected your relationship with food in a way that improves your overall health, it often still consumes just as much of your energy, thought and intentions.

Let’s start with the basics: people with type 1 diabetes cannot make their own insulin. Insulin is the hormone that converts food into fuel so the body can function. This means that people with type 1 diabetes not only have to dose insulin correctly for the food they consume, but are forced to look at every item of food in a much more complex way than people without diabetes do.

The good thing? Balance can be found in all that complexity. Finding a relationship with food that balances your health goals with your emotional well-being is a personal proces—that can evolve over the course of years—and what it looks like will vary from person-to-person. What we’re told and taught by our doctors, our parents and the community all hugely impacts how our relationship with food evolves and we each cope with that hyper-focus on food in different ways.

In this piece, I’m going to walk you through a few things to look out for when it comes to your relationship with food, then share input from the diabetes community on how their relationship with food has been impacted by diabetes. Looking to connect with other people going through the same? Be sure to join us over in the Beyond Type 1 Community.

A few things to look out for

Unfortunately, some food-related coping methods can be physically and emotionally very harmful, destructive and even life-threatening. Examples of this destructive relationship include:

  • Binge-eating during low blood sugars, stress, boredom, etc.
  • Restricting food until you’re so hungry that you binge on all the things you’ve told yourself are “bad foods”
  • Restricting entire macronutrients for a period of time, then binge-eating that macronutrient for a period time, over and over
  • Severely limiting calories
  • Skipping insulin doses (diabulimia)
  • Overdosing on insulin as an excuse to binge

Some coping methods might be designed to improve your overall health but the emotional stress it creates may not be quite the right fit for you. Finding what works, and what you can sustain long-term can take months or years—and need some fine-tuning as your relationship with food and diabetes evolves!

  • Omitting or restricting entire macronutrients (usually dietary fat or carbs)
  • Eating the same meals or types of foods every day
  • Following a personalized meal plan
  • Creating a flexible approach with a focus on specific types of food or macronutrients that you can sustain long-term
  • Forming personal philosophies around your diet that support its long-term success

“How has type 1 diabetes affected your relationship with food?”

I asked the community, “How has type 1 diabetes affected your relationship with food?” on my personal Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Here’s what you had to say. *These responses have been edited minimally for clarity.

Funniest (yet poignant) response:

“My relationship with food is a lot like my relationship with a girlfriend: It makes me sweeter, it’s never as good as I want it to be, it’s a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, and everyone criticizes me for not doing it the way they do theirs.”—Brad

Stressful, overwhelming and frustrating…

“I’m not able to just enjoy food. It’s always about planning. Always about thinking. Always about numbers. Always about checking. Always about the ‘what ifs.’ You can’t enjoy something that is both your poison and your medicine.”—Mocha

“With hate.”—Sam

“Fatigue of figuring out every equation featuring multiple variables…gets me down. Whenever I have had a severe hypo, I hate food for a few days, and then slowly rebuild my relationship with food. I have had type 1 for over 30 years.”—Jayne

“Some words that I think of over my 31 years of being type 1 diabetes (T1D) are: healthy, delicious choices, yet…frustration, fear, concern, restriction.”—J. Andwin

“It is challenging to discern: am I hungry or am I low? Or, if I am hungry, can/should I eat if I’m also high? Disentangling feelings from blood sugar symptoms is HARD and fraught with emotion.”—Kristyn

“Well, I never know when I’m hungry anymore and I never choose what I’d really like to eat when eating out because I am always thinking of what will least affect blood sugar later..it takes the enjoyment out of it!”—Truthseeker

“Having type 1, celiac and gastroparesis…I swear a lot.”—Iowa Chic

“I am a food hoarder. I must be fully stocked, just in case. This is especially true when traveling.”—KatPharm

“Never used to bother or affect me until I got diagnosed with celiac disease. Now I have to read every label and it’s very frustrating and inconvenient. If life wasn’t hard enough already.”—Vik

“How has it not?”—Victoria

“Food is no longer an easy or simple pleasure.  Everything requires a calculation, second thought and potentially feelings of guilt if you have something which spikes your blood sugar. Meals out are not enjoyed in the same way due to injections, unknown carbs and waiting times.”—Lucy

“Food was complicated before I developed diabetes at 23.”—Lua

“I find my bad relationship with food is more related to my misdiagnosis as a type 2.”—Michelle

“How does T1D affect your relationship with food? With gastroparesis (a challenge for 1/3 of people with diabetes) it’s complicated.”—Tom

“Diabetes and food for me has always been like this love/hate relationship. There would be times that it’s so serendipitous—my readings were on target, I’m watching my portions, and I am usually in a really good mood.  But then there are times where I am watching what I am eating, and no matter how much insulin/medication I take, I can never get it down. So sometimes I feel like ‘what’s the point?’ You know?  I do feel sometimes that I do go through a Diabetes Burnout. My fiancé tries to help me with this, but especially during this summer, it’s been pretty hectic and there seems to be no consistent schedule for me to properly plan out my meals. I’m a high school teacher, so hopefully with school starting soon, there will be more consistency and more of a schedule to properly plan out what we eat, and this in turn will help my diabetes.”—Joel

“Yes! Sometimes I’d love a spontaneous snack or to not wait 15 minutes before eating or when eating out and the meal you planned to have and had calculated carbs and insulin dose is no longer available is frustrating.”—Karen

“Massively so, although at 43 years T1D, it’s almost subconsciously written into my DNA now, that thought of how what I eat equates to levels and insulin intake and, ultimately, how much grief it is to eat anything carby.”—Tony

“Diagnosed on my 28th birthday, and being only a few months in:

  • I used to enjoy candy, now it’s medicine.
  • Exercise requires me to carry around a bunch of food and plan for it.
  • I’m notably less engaged at the dinner table because I’m constantly monitoring blood glucose.
  • Drinking more wine because it doesn’t change my blood glucose and it helps me forget this gigantic bummer of a disease for a moment or two”—Jack

Avoiding certain types of foods altogether…

“Growing up as a lifelong diabetic, desserts were a treat. For my birthday, I’d get a slice of cake, Christmas I’d have pumpkin pie. But it wasn’t an everyday occurrence. 47 years later, and I still don’t overindulge.”—Chris

“I’ve seen in T1D parenting groups this month: ‘only eat food in a certain order (protein/fat/carbs) pre-bolus & if child doesn’t finish, only offer an option which child doesn’t really like (others say offer dessert). Eliminate food your child likes (cereal, pizza) because of spikes’. These kinds of ideas or approaches to managing food in children with T1D concern me because of what kind of behaviors it might lead to as they get older.”—Stacey

“It is so very time-consuming, planning, prep, cooking, counting, weighing, MATH! Searching diligently for my own knowledge because my ‘education team’ is strictly all about pushing technology, which to be honest, is a game changer but there is so much more to take into account. I still experience sadness some days over the foods I will never get to eat again (by choice). It has pushed me away from processed foods and more towards fresh so I guess I’m grateful.”—Ch. Sanders

“It’s definitely led me to think very deeply about the food choices I make, not only how they will affect my mood, but also my blood glucose numbers. Sometimes I feel frustrated because I miss old foods I used to enjoy a lot, but I find eating lower carb/higher fat & protein helps me stay stable without a lot of insulin. I don’t think many people realize how much thought and energy goes into thinking about what you’ll eat as a person with diabetes.”—IntrovertedYogi

“I’ve had type 1 for 20 years, and had no idea that insulin was one of the main factors as to why I was gaining so much weight!? Until someone told me insulin is a fat storing hormone—if I knew that early on I would have made many different choices. However, now I enjoy all types of food and love being active and I do my best with managing how different food affects my blood sugars. Sometimes I just won’t go near certain foods because I can’t be bothered dealing with the consequences!! I do think the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a game changer!”—Britt

“My 10-year-old just discovered if he skips breakfast and just has a low carb snack, he will avoid the after breakfast high.”—Amanda

“I’m writing blogs as I approach 50 years diagnosis (dx) in Mar of 2022, looking at different aspects of T1D managment over the last 49+ yrs, including food.  As others have said—certain foods just aren’t worth the hassle. Have skipped meals if blood glucose (BG) high.”—Sarah

“I used to eat cereal all the time. Loved cocoa pebbles. Since being diagnosed I couldn’t even dream of it.”—Patrick

“Some things I never eat now—unsliced bread, rice, pasta, most forms of potato especially chips because I can never get the bolus right for those. It looks as if pizza is joining the list too now.”—Elgar

“I’m a high fat, high protein, low carb kinda guy. Slow BG ramps are delayed by several hours and then I take small correction doses.”—Anthony

“T1 has really fucked up my relationship with food. But it’s a relationship that won’t ever go away so it’s taught me a lot about discipline, compromise and endurance.”—Abell

“It is almost impossible for me to answer this because I was diagnosed at age 5 and I have absolutely no idea how others without diabetes feel about food. Having said that, I have spent a lot of time learning about how different foods impact my BG levels in the minutes, hours and days after eating particular foods. I have tried carbohydrate restricted diets (for 28 years), dose adjustment for normal eating (for four years), very low carbohydrate diets (for six years) and whole food plant based diets (for six years). I am about halfway through writing my dissertation for my MSc in Diabetes practice that focuses on how carbohydrates, fats and proteins impact insulin requirements in adults with type 1 diabetes. Without sharing too much at this stage, it is fair to say that carbohydrates require insulin, but fats and proteins also require insulin. The quality of the carbohydrate may be important, too. In that sense; my relationship with food is far from normal.”—Paul

“I constantly have to decide whether or not certain food is ‘worth’ the potential blood sugar spike. I once accidentally lost 10 pounds because I minimized my carb consumption so I could try to stay in better control. My endo told me to eat more fruit, but I was so scared of the spike.”—Dea

“I feel like I can’t fully enjoy/I resent some foods because of what it does to my sugars.”—Sheri

“Prior to my DX I ate well but never worried about things like pizza, rice, or bread. Anything in moderation was fine. Now I don’t care how well I carb count, there are some foods that are so annoying to eat I simply avoid them. Cherries, Nutella, Black Liquorice. It goes on and on.”—Andre

“The ‘relationship’ is with insulin not me, food is the brake.”—Hypoglycemia_awareness

“I avoid pizza and pasta because the faffing around with double bolusing is more trouble than it’s worth.”—David

“I think the most bizarre area of my diet that diabetes has affected is eating fruit. I have a great diet but find I don’t eat much fruit outside of berries even though I love fruit. I’d love to have bowls of fruit for breakfast but it spikes me usually and then doesn’t feel worth it.”—Patience

“Before, I ate junk food, fatty home cooked food, sugary desserts, coke cola, etc.  Now I’m low carb, low fat, haven’t drunk a pop in years, no desserts.  95 percent healthy home cooked meals now.  Need to increase my veggie recipes still.”—Brian

Detangling all the rules & diets to create a personalized approach…

“Years ago (prior to me finding CrossFit and a strong, supportive partner), fitness and body image culture had me believing in restrictive dieting, which had me overdosing as a means to eat Oreos, cake, etc. Freedom was found within the positive and growth-oriented CrossFit community, along with Afrezza insulin!”—TunaTurns

“In many ways it has improved my understanding of what healthy food actually is. I enjoy math and evidence based science and find it intriguing that certain foods result in different blood sugars. I used to just eat too much pizza and high saturated fat foods and feel crappy. Now I see the numbers and the increase in insulin resistance for the following couple of days and that gives me the data to motivate myself to continue to eat healthier. The more vegetables, fruit, and real food (unprocessed) I eat, the easier it is to control my blood sugars and the better I feel as a result. So I have to thank diabetes and the luxury of a Dexcom for giving me the numbers and evidence I need for motivation.”—T1IronWoman

“Studying to become a registered dietitian when I was diagnosed at 21 was information overload. When I was at the ER with DKA at my diagnosis, I was told by nurses that I could ‘never eat white rice again.’ My dad came and stayed with me for a bit and every time I reached for a piece of fruit or anything with carbs he would say ‘Do you really need that?“Let’s try and avoid carbs today’ or ‘okay, honey I think that’s enough,’ or ‘you’re just making things harder for yourself.’ My favorite thing was learning about food, cooking and trying new flavors, but it became my trigger for anxiety and depression. I remember prepping breakfast burritos with low-carb tortillas and waiting hours to eat them. Already being in class still just hungry looking at it waiting to eat it until my blood sugar was lower and my food getting cold made me feel so defeated and upset. I thought my management had to be perfect, but it was making me so miserable. Over time I got better at managing my sugars, and focused more on not being anxious and letting myself indulge and enjoy food again. Being a foodie and wanting my career to even surround food and then feeling anxious every time I ate or thought of food was awful, but I’ve come a long way and feel like I have a good balance. ❤️ I cook a lot more, I am more knowledgeable about food, and I can relate on a personal level to so many others from my life experience now, which I am thankful for.”—Tiana K.

“Personally, I started stress-eating in college, which led to weight-gain, rollercoaster blood sugars, guilt, and frustration. When I fell into the weightlifting/powerlifting world, I was surrounded by people who chose to eat low-carb and learned how to view food as fuel. Since then, I’ve dabbled and enjoyed experimenting with a variety of approaches to eating. For years, I ate low-carb. But I’ve found in recent years that was feels healthiest for me both physically and emotionally is a flexible approach in which no food is off-limits. Instead, I choose to eat mostly real food, including some carbs, with room for one sugar-based treat a day. Does it make my blood sugars perfectly flat? Nope, but it gives me a sense of peace and calmness with food that I can maintain and feel energized by, too. I enjoy my meals! I love to cook and bake. But I’ve created my own rules, my own boundaries to help me reach and maintain my health goals.”—Ginger Vieira (author of article)

“I’ve learned about nutrition in a way that those without diabetes cannot. I can see real-time, thanks to technology, all of the factors which affect blood sugar. When it comes to food specifically, I’ve learned that to best take care of my body I need to carefully balance carbohydrates with protein. Eating healthy has become a huge part of my daily life thanks in large part to diabetes. It gives me the drive to take care of myself.”—Sugar Free Sweetie

“Today, I treat food as medicine. For me, it’s a means to an end—optimal health. I enjoy eating, with limitations. If I exceed my healthy limits, joy gets overtaken by sorrow. That’s how T1D has changed my relationship with food.” —Kevin

“It makes me really think about what I am going to eat. I have to plan ahead. I am a comfort eater so I already have to be aware that I am hungry and not just eating mindlessly. Diabetes makes me more aware of how I am eating.”—Cathy

“I have had type 1 for 11 years and it’s taken me probably 8 years, a gluten sensitivity, education as a RD and 2 pregnancies to feel comfortable with my food choices to avoid orthorexia and restrictive eating. Now, I have tools to cherry pick from depending on the situation. It can be challenging to truly enjoy food when you’re trying to count the carbs and it’s easy to get distracted in the middle of a bolus when you’re in a social gathering and having a conversation. There’s a lot of mental gymnastics involved and it can be even more frustrating when you’re not hungry, but have to treat a low. Fueling exercise also brings on a whole new meaning with T1D. I also worry that my kids will have a disordered relationship with food because of my behaviors.”—Arnold

“Hmmm!!! Food, well, it has definitely been a ride. Math equations daily, Diabetes has made me more aware of what I eat. I am healthier, stronger and have more energy. Keeping track of every bite I eat and how it is going to affect my blood sugars is always a guessing game. Math, math and more math. lol. I have gotten quite good at it. I can guess carbs just by looking at most whole foods. I can usually guess in cups just by looking at foods as well. My math skills have definitely improved—LOL.”—Peter

“It hasn’t been the best relationship but I think I eat very healthily compared to what I read in the press.”—Paul

“I finally have boundaries around food. Not just what to eat, but how much to eat. I feel like having to physically type a number into my personal diabetes manager (PDM) and actually see how much insulin is going in gives me pause. Where I once may have chosen to eat an entire sleeve of Oreos because I was bored, now I wonder if giving myself another 1.4 units is worth it. Sometimes it’s annoying, but mostly I am proud of how much self-control I have developed around food.”—Casa

“It is so very time-consuming, planning, prep, cooking, counting, weighing, MATH! Searching diligently for my own knowledge because my “education team” is strictly all about pushing technology, which to be honest, is a game changer but there is so much more to take into account. I still experience sadness some days over the foods I will never get to eat again (by choice). It has pushed me away from processed foods and more towards fresh so I guess I’m grateful.”—Cathryn

“It’s made me cook more.”—Chelcie

“When I was first dx at 8, food very suddenly became a reason for mistrust and discipline by my mother. As an only child, I often felt that far too much attention was placed on when and what I was eating. This was in the 1950’s, the time of Regular beef/pork insulin, urine testing and the ADA Exchange Diet. My food was weighed and measured and I was supposed to eat everything on my plate, no matter what. Fortunately, my dog, Candy, alway sat next to my chair at the table. She often helped me out if it wasn’t something I wanted to eat. Food became part of an adolescent power struggle/authority rebellion from junior high until leaving home for college. It really wasn’t until I moved into my own apartment as a junior that I started paying close attention to what I was eating. Missing this whole time (1960 – 67) was nutrition information. My MD’s didn’t offer any and I didn’t look elsewhere. I discovered that I really loved exploring all kinds of food. Living in San Francisco provided easy access to a huge variety of ethnic markets. If I could afford it, I bought it and learned what to do with it. It was a wonderful experience and I survived! All these many years since then my enjoyment with food has continued. Although during graduate school in the 70’s my daughter crowned me the ‘Stouffer’s Queen; because full-time classes + working left little time for food prep, most of my cooking now is with local, fresh ingredients. I count carbs, to the best of my ability and I’ve kept a food diary for the past 5+ years. At first, the diary was so I could remember/answer if my endo asked what I’d eaten at 3 P.M., two weeks ago. It soon became a diary for me, so I could always be aware of what and how much I was eating. Playing with my food is one of life’s treasures.”—Janis

“I attribute my clean eating to T1D, it’s really influenced smart, healthy choices that have become my way of life and contributed to my overall well-being since age 13. It’s not always ideal though—in terms of eating for lows—not for hunger, managing sugars during exercise and other life circumstances. We certainly become our own experts in how eating suits us as individuals, always balancing blood sugars.”—Jewels

“Yes, I have to be much more aware of what I eat, and plan more, especially thinking about what is worth both the insulin and potential increase in blood sugar if I do not bolus correctly. And before T1D I think I still ate pretty well, but I didn’t need to plan every meal, my snacks have been about the same as before, though now even more I try to just avoid snacking.”—Evan

“Removed spontaneity. Sometimes making eating functional is not joyous. Inspired my interest in nutrition and cooking, if I’m going to limit what I eat then it’s going to be the best I can eat.”—Katie

“I choose my food wisely.”—Janine

“As a t1d for 37 years , I can eat whatever I want. I have disciplined eating and that helps keep me trim and maintain my A1c.”—Greg

“T1D has always made meals interesting. Back in the days of prescribed doses it swung between restriction and rebellion. With DAFNE it was ALL the maths. Now that I have AndroidAPS it’s almost like being a real person, apart from checking battery levels, rotating sites…”—Dawnie

“It’s made me more aware of quality over quantity. It’s also made me do a lot of trial and error! Pizza was hard but after many tries I’ve got it mostly down!”—Andy

“So my son was diagnosed with type 1 almost three years ago. I didn’t want to panic and have him start feeling different because of it so I studied up on nutrition and continue to study and base not only his meals and snacks everyday but also my own.”—Chris

Struggling with “disordered eating” or an eating disorder…

“Basically in every way possible. I was diagnosed at age 5 and basically have grown up approaching food from a purely calculated/ medicinal approach (I’m 26 now). I find almost zero joy in food and blame t1 for the eating disorder I developed in college too (turns out having a convenient excuse to watch what you eat + stress + anxiety is not a winning combo).”—Emily

“I was anorexic for many years because of trauma and my diabetes. I’m four years in recovery now and have had type 1 for 21 years and food is my friend again!”—Celbell

“I have bulimia with food phobia and restrictive behavior. I’m in eating disorder therapy to help deal with my fears and rules around food which is related to being diabetic.”—Yoko

“I am a recreational athlete where I have to fuel my body well for the workouts I do unfortunately the fear of injecting more insulin leading to weight gain specially during luteal phase led me to start following raw food thing 🤦‍♀️low fat vegan and all that ended up I eating less and I lost my period. I really had to work hard to fix my relationship with food. All because of the fear of gaining weight with insulin. I have recovered! My periods are back to normal. I don’t have that fear of insulin anymore. I worked with a coach who is a type 1 and a nutritionist who really helped me.”—Sowmya

“It’s given me a hugely complex relationship with food. I am hyper aware of everything I eat (carb content, sugar, ingredients, how much insulin I will need and the BG spike etc). I think my eating is a bit disordered. I now have other gastro/digestive issues that add to this.”—Izzy

“My relationship with food has really screwed me up after my diagnosis. Of course stubbornness and acting like nothing was wrong didn’t help either. That sentiment ruined my body and now I am trying to figure out that balance. Still a work in progress.”—Mari

“I eat for my BG most of the time, not because I am hungry. I suspect the way I think about food might be an eating disorder but, if I skip breakfast and lunch because my BG sucks, and is unresponsive, I’m the one dealing with it and, if I keep my cool, it doesn’t affect anyone enough to constitute a disorder.”—Mike

“I used to restrict myself a lot in high school. And then I was diagnosed after I graduated college. My relationship with food is a hot mess. I don’t really restrict myself much anymore, but I have a lot of guilt associated with food. Especially when I have to eat because of low blood sugar.”—Stefa

“Diabetes has made me hate food. I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was 2 years old and the intense pressure of being put on a strict diet at such a young age ended up with me having an eating disorder that started when I was just 5. I was diagnosed with OSFED at 12 and relapsed back into my ED last year because I realized the less food I ate the better my blood sugars were. So to sum it all up, my diabetes has caused me to basically develop an ED.”—Ashley

“I grew up on NPH and regular, so certain prescribed amounts of CARBS at certain scheduled times to match the insulin. I was a VERY picky eater growing up. Still am, but less so. Why? My mom thinks it’s because we had to FEED the insulin, so her focus was always: did she have enough carbs? If I wasn’t hungry: ok, what carbs will she eat? My parents would literally set the microwave timer if I wasn’t eating dinner quick enough or didn’t want to eat what was made and say I had to finish eating by the time the timer went off. It wasn’t until years later (I was a hard core rule follower luckily for mom) when I was a teen I asked her: so if I didn’t finish eating by the timer went off what would you have done? Her reply: well…I guess we would have had to let you eat whatever kind of carbs you were willing to eat! Ice cream, cookies, cereal—whatever! It also has taken me YEARS to work through the mindset of ‘just because it’s dinner time doesn’t mean I HAVE to eat…’ If I’m not hungry, I DO NOT HAVE to eat! That was a huge mindset shift I had to work through when I was at my heaviest ever weight and trying to lose weight and get healthier. Thankfully my endo asked me one day: so if you’re not hungry for lunch, what do you eat? My answer: Umm…same as usual. WHY? If you’re not hungry, WHY still eat? OOOHHHHH! Lightbulb moment!”—Tricia

“Dx with T1D at 2. Experienced eating disorder behaviours from 12 and dx formally at 18. Spent my late teens & twenties in and out of treatment. I’m now learning that food or insulin were never the enemy and balance is key. I will also fight anyone pushing food restrictions for T1Ds.”—Amy

“It has complicated an already complex relationship and allowed me to ‘justify’ disordered eating.”—Rebecca

“Where do I even start? I ended up in treatment with diabulimia. Asha Brown saved my life.”—Ruth

“I had diabulimia as a teenager.”—Jena

“I am in PTSD therapy for an eating disorder so that’s how for me.”—Kat

“A friend remarked to me that it’s pretty much impossible to have diabetes and not have an eating disorder. As a kid, I used to hide sweets and it took a long time for me to be comfortable eating sweets in front of people. Diabetes jokes are just fatphobia so that didn’t help.”—Leslie

“I was diagnosed with T1D at age 5 and started restricting my food by age 7. I wasn’t formally diagnosed with an ED until I was 13. I still battle with ‘so I want to eat and figure out my insulin, or do I just want to sit here and keep my number in range?’ Having a CGM is a wonderful tool to help me keep my numbers in check better, but it does play into my ED a lot. If my line has been good all day, my brain tells me to not eat because it will mess it up completely.” —Mary-Kate

“I believe it played a huge part in my developing an eating disorder at a young age, but it also kept me eating even when I felt like starving myself.”—Maggie

Feeling guilty for every bite…

“It’s evolving, and I think the Twitter DOC helped me overcome a lot of food guilt, but the panic to know exactly what you’re eating all the time is so stressful. I went low twice today while meal prepping, and it made me feel bad because I thought I was calculating correctly. And then when you think you overcorrected, but three hours later you spike because it turns out you didn’t finish digesting your meal so you spend the entire night playing catch up feels like crap too.”—Dary

“It can make me self-conscious about eating in front of people because they have their own assumptions about what I’m ‘allowed’ to eat and correcting them is exhausting because it goes against societal myths about diabetes (including type 2).”—Molly

“I feel very ‘watched’ and this judgement and stigma let to a very difficult relationship with food later on. Slowly undoing it now but I still see things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, worrying that others judge me for my choices even though I know what’s best for me and my blood sugars.”—Natalie

“I take time considering whether my food is ‘worth’ the insulin and feel a lot of guilt when I have had over a certain amount of units as I know I have had a carb heavy day—I often then ‘punish’ myself the next day, or week, to combat this. I also have a lot of food anxieties. I also have ‘safe meals’ which I know how my insulin responds to and will stick to those meals at home—although I do eat anything, I am aware of how certain foods affect me and if there are other factors (sickness, hormones) affecting my resistance I find myself restricting.”—Kay

“Food has more than one price,”—Ty

“I was diagnosed in 1985 at age 12. Meal plans were starch, fruit, vegetable, dairy, meat and fat. Dessert was Nilla wafers, angel food cake or vanilla ice cream. I know I can eat whatever I want with a carb/insulin ratio but I still feel guilty if I don’t eat healthy.”—Heidi

“I have my Diabetic Clinic tomorrow and I’m already going through my reports to see what I’ve done right or wrong. I eat well with occasional treats. I run six times a week and the challenge of BS’s being high enough for longer distances or not too low makes my charts look bad.”—Murman

“I cannot input more than 60g into my pump for meals. I ‘know’ my meal is more than that, but I can’t put it in without severe guilt for being a ‘bad diabetic’. It is a constant battle to overcome these negative terms even in my own head!”—Theresa

Losing the joy of food and eating…

“I don’t enjoy eating, it’s been like a chore for the past 15 yrs, maybe because I had to ration for so long, but it’s just all carb-counting and shoveling in my face. I’m slim, can’t get enough food, haven’t been able to actually enjoy a meal in so long I can’t remember.”—Yashua

“Wow, where to start! So it’s seen me quit coffee (insulin resistance), eat the same things often (searching for patterns), refuse to eat some foods (pizza, rice). Oh and dextrose tabs make me want to vomit because I’ve eaten so many of them.”—Running Guy

“Really badly! I think needing to know the chemical composition of everything you put in your mouth takes a lot of pleasure from eating. Sadly it doesn’t help you to make wise choices but I’m still here after 43½ years.”—Kate

“Eating the same meals searching for patterns.”—Curly

“The very idea of eating food inspires nothing but fear and disgust in me. It’s also had a strong impact socially, going out to eat with friends seems impossible.”—Grinnhell

“I have a terrible relationship with food. I constantly worry about eating and elevating my blood glucose levels or getting doses wrong. It’s really impacted my mental / emotional well being.”—Kes

“Eating out is not really enjoyable. I need to know the carbs I am eating and if I don’t then the anxiety kicks in. I still eat out and try my best but it’s mentally quite tiring.”—Greg

“My hunger cues are totally messed up. I rarely feel traditional hunger. Just weakness and crying lol.”—Rae

“I have a lot of trouble sharing food. I partly blame being on NPH, because as a child if I didn’t eat the right amounts at the right time I would go low. Sharing food meant my carb counts were different.”—Pancreassassin

“Before I became T1D, I ate anything I wanted, but very little sugar/fast food. After I became T1D, my appetite left — except during lows. Those are hard to describe in a tweet.”—Chris

“I’m well aware that when my blood sugar is in range, it’s often because I haven’t eaten anything. So sometimes I don’t eat when I should. I don’t eat before endo appointments.I also get really irritated when asked to share food, or my husband drinks one of my Gatorades LOL.”—Jess

“Food is a job.”—Christiana

“Food has become a domestic terrorist for me.  There is no spontaneous, casual getting a bite to eat or a cocktail somewhere new without risking unknown aftermath. So much planning.  And if I say I don’t want to eat or I’m not hungry, then I’m the buzzkill for the group.”—Gabrielle

“In every way imaginable!”—Christine

Thank you for sharing personal details about your relationship with food and diabetes!

WRITTEN BY Ginger Vieira, POSTED 09/07/21, UPDATED 12/06/22

Ginger Vieira is an author and writer living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. She’s authored a variety of books, including “When I Go Low” (for kids), “Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes,” and “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout.” Before joining Beyond Type 1 as digital content manager, Ginger wrote for Diabetes Mine, Healthline, T1D Exchange, Diabetes Strong and more! In her free time, she is jumping rope, scootering with her daughters, or walking with her handsome fella and their dog.