From Junk Food Lover to Nutrition Nut!
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I worked in hospitality for many years, anyone else who has would understand that we work hard, but we play even harder. I spent my weekends surviving on Lift + Mother and McDonalds, and my days off work were spent drinking and eating delicious food at various restaurants and bars.
I’m from the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, otherwise known as wine central of New Zealand. I have grown up around vineyards and delicious restaurants, which is the reason why my family is full of chefs, and the rest of us are HUGE foodies. Everything in my family is about food. If we are not eating food, we are talking about it, or creating recipes that we need to taste test. Family events revolve around what food everyone is going to bring.
Being diagnosed with type 1 has caused my view for food to shift completely, but it definitely has not changed my love for food.
At first I was upset with myself and disappointed about all of the food that I would never be able to eat again. All that I could think about was never having burgers again, or enjoying chocolate and junk food. I made it worse by staring at ‘naughty’ foods in the supermarket. A secret addiction of mine was to sneak lollies in the supermarket trolley and eat them on the drive home. I became a closet junk food eater. The problem made me feel guilty, which spiraled me to eat more junk food to feel better.
The health system in New Zealand didn’t help my situation. As I was still counted as youth when I was diagnosed I was able to make the most of the free diabetic services which included dietitian appointments. Instead of addressing my issue or advising me to minimize the unhealthy foods, they said, “Just make sure you inject accordingly to the carbs and you can eat whatever you want.” I continued to eat junk food whenever I could.
I finally made the decision that I needed to sort it out. I was only recently diagnosed with type 1, but I wasn’t giving my body the chance to get used to insulin or to let myself understand how to use insulin properly. I was hardly ever checking my blood sugars and injecting only when my blood sugars were high.
I paid to see a dietitian who put me on a low-carb diet. I started to do my own research and looked into low-carb alternatives that would not spike my blood sugars but would be just as tasty. My eyes were opened up to a whole new world!
I am now completely obsessed with healthy foods. I’ve become one of the people I used to make fun of, telling my friends that they should be eating cauliflower mash and popping off to the farmers markets for the freshest of produce, and replacing everything in a chocolate cake to make it gluten, dairy, soy and nut-free!
A blessing in disguise occurred on the day that I was diagnosed; it just took a while for me to realize that having type 1 doesn’t mean restricting myself from eating what I love. Instead, it has shown me a whole new world of cooking, baking and creating alternatives to all of my favorite foods.
Read Caroline Potter’s Food for Thought and a Happy, Healthy Life.