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JENNY'S journalJenny’s Journal:

As a Person With Type 1 Diabetes: Why I Can’t Eat Cereal



“Why can’t you eat cereal?”

Kids certainly ask the greatest questions, don’t they?! I often go to the grocery store with my boys, and we end up talking about what goes into the cart and what doesn’t make it on the “approved” list to bring home. “Mom, why don’t we get M&Ms? My friends at school have them in their lunch boxes”. We try hard to stay away from added fake stuff and artificial colors and sugar bombs, so my answer is typically “We don’t’ need to eat that because…..”.

I feel that I should give them good answers to inform them about why we choose some food over other items.

“Mom, can we get some ice cream”, to which I answer, we have “ice cream” at home already and don’t need to buy it. In fact, my boys love to help make it since it is just frozen bananas, coconut milk and strawberries blended and then frozen. I can indulge without guilt and also feel good about giving my kids something that is real food and good too.

Recently as we walked down an aisle at the grocery store, my 6.5-year-old smarty pants asked “Why can’t you eat cereal Mom? Is it because your body doesn’t like it?” We don’t have cereal in the house, but at some point I must have said to him something like “I don’t eat cereal” and he interpreted it as being unable to eat it.

Made me think, hmmm, “why can’t I eat cereal”?

The answer is of course, I could eat it. Everyone at diagnosis is told something along the lines of “you can eat what you want, just cover it with insulin”. It isn’t that simple though, is it! We can all choose to eat whatever it is we want, but with diabetes the considerations are extensive for figuring out how to manage a product like cereal. If you have figured it out, kudos to you, but most people with diabetes feel like cereal is on the list of hardest things to manage eating.

Time of day, glycemic nature of cereal itself or whatever the reason, the excursion in BG after a bowl of cereal can be crazy. Along with this, there are many foods that can elicit the same impact and I, as do many others, choose to stay away or eat them very seldom to just keep things easier to contain.

In fact, I’ve found that the more real food I eat, the better response to insulin I typically have in the hours that follow the meal or snack. I define real food as minimal to no processing – so typically we have a lot of food that is unprocessed. I found an interesting article called: “Processed foods are a much bigger health problem than we thought” on this topic early this summer – and while not specific to diabetes, I believe it does point to a lot of the reason we see different impact of food on our glucose levels after eating.

What we eat essentially influences the very diverse gut microbiome we have in our body for digesting, absorbing and using the macro and micronutrients in food. With diabetes we see the impact of food on our BG levels but don’t often think of what this food is doing otherwise in our body or for our overall health.

Little changes can make a big difference in health as well as diabetes management and a little change can lead to bigger changes that stick long term.  There is a bounty of great food available this time of the year – local farmer’s markets are a great place to start. Give yourself and your family an opportunity to enjoy some real food that is really good for you and also will likely serve you well in terms of post meal blood sugar control.

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