Why a High-Carb (Fruit-Based) Diet for Type 1 Diabetes?

Stocked up on mangoes!

When someone discovers that I eat raw foods for the purpose of allowing my type 1 diabetic body to heal, they are normally surprised that I choose a diet high in fruit carbs.  The immediate question is, “But don’t you want to do as little insulin as possible?  Eating a lot of fruit just seems backward, since eating more carbs means taking more insulin.”

True, it does.  But I have good reason for my dietary decisions.

I began my raw food journey in an attempt to heal my diabetes and epilepsy, after reading some very inspiring testimonials.  I experimented with various approaches, including a raw food program that claimed to heal diabetes.  On this diet, my foods were raw vegetables and fats.  My “sweets” were non-sweet fruits (tomatoes and cucumbers) and grapefruit.  It was hardly an appealing diet.

On this “no carb” diet, my insulin needs were drastically reduced.  I got down to one unit of insulin per day, and probably could have gotten off insulin altogether.  But at what cost?

I constantly craved sweets.  I felt very unsatisfied with my food intake.  I had no energy.  I was miserable, running on fats for fuel.  This lifestyle was simply unsustainable for me.

What happened afterward…once I gave in to the carb cravings?  I binged on unhealthy carbs.  Also, because of my high fat intake on low-carb raw, my insulin sensitivity had become very poor.  I needed a lot of insulin for the carbs I ate.  Furthermore, despite getting “thin” on the diet, my body fat percentage was quite high.  I quickly re-gained the weight I had lost, and it took a very long time to reduce my body fat.

I may have had short-term results of lowering my insulin intake (as one might guess, since lowering carb intake lowers insulin needs), but the long-term results were not in my favor.  It was totally not worth it for me to eat the unappealing low-carb diet.

Fast-forward to the fruit-based (low-fat) raw food diet.  My insulin sensitivity is greatly increased.  I am satisfied and absolutely love the foods I get to eat every day.  My meals contribute to feeling energetic, rather than sleepy and weighed down.

Owing to my now-improved insulin sensitivity, my endocrinologist says I do the same amount of insulin as his other type 1 patients, despite eating three times as many carbs as they do.  And because I am satisfied by the carbs in the fruit I eat, I have no need to binge or “cheat” on unhealthy junk and processed foods.

I see how much easier it is to control my blood sugars with a low-fat, high-carb diet than with low-carb.  Is it tricky at times?  Sure it is!  Fruits vary in size, ripeness, and type/variety, among other things.  If they came uniformly, with individually-marked nutrition info like all the processed foods, it would be much easier to control blood sugars on a fruit diet.

However, for me, the sometimes-imperfect blood sugars are worth it, for the wide variety of tastes, nutrition, and positive effect on health that eating a fruit-based diet provides.  Overall, my blood sugar control is the best it has ever been (5.6-5.9% HbA1c).  My body shows many evidences of healing.

Shall I elaborate?  I no longer take epilepsy medicine; I went off of it “against medical advice”.  I no longer have the grand mal seizures that used to predictably occur with very low blood sugars.  I no longer get the frequent colds, headaches, and sinus infections that used to plague me.  My thinking is clearer.  My teeth have gone from yellow and translucent to white and opaque.  My hair and nails grow faster than ever in my life.

My body is more flexible and recovers much more quickly from exercise.  My bad breath and body odor are gone.  My sense of smell has improved.  My periods are lighter and shorter.  My libido has definitely increased.  My candida symptoms have gone away, and only re-surface when I have sustained high blood sugars (as a result of a very high fat intake).

Because of these noted changes (and many more), I am confident that I am giving my body what it needs for healthful living.

In summary, the reasons I choose a high-carb (fruit-based) over low-carb (high fat) diet as a type 1 diabetic are these: 1) satisfaction with my food (not craving sweets); 2) increased insulin sensitivity; 3) improved blood sugar control; 4) feeling good; and 5) improved overall health (in countless ways).  In light of all these benefits, I feel that “amount of insulin per day” is probably not the best predictor of my long-term health.  I do not plan to lose out on these amazing benefits by restricting carbs, simply to keep insulin levels below an arbitrary number.

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee is passionate about sharing the gift of fruitful living with others. She is a fruit & diabetes blogger, health coach, and author of the book Healing Diabetes with Fruit. As a type 1 diabetic and epileptic, Tasha's own health has vastly improved on a fruit-based diet. In addition to promoting healthy living, Tasha also loves to serve in sign language, music, and disability ministry.

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