Vegetarian diabetic

Hello world! In the first week of February this year I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I was shocked beyond believe. No one else in my family has it. I was under the impression type one is genetic, but maybe I’m just the first of my gene pool. Anyway, I am also vegetarian. I have been for nearly 20 years and have no thoughts on not being so. So how do I balance my diet as a diabetic vegetarian? I don’t want to become unhealthy obviously, but food has become such a problem for me. Almost to the point of it being a complex.
If anyone has any ideas how to help me I would be so great full!!

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hello @Katyarvt Katya,

welcome to TypeOneNation, and the club that no one wants to be in. T1 is not strongly hereditary it’s quite common to be on the only one in you family… I am in mine too.

The first year can be a tough adjustment but I’ll repeat the best medical advice that was ever given to me in 40 years dealing with type 1.

the best book I have come across is “Think Like a Pancreas”. please consider getting a copy and taking a look.

blood sugar control is accomplished by insulin, exercise, and carbohydrates. carbs makes your blood sugar go up - insulin, and insulin plus exercise makes your blood sugar go down. Your only feedback is your meter or CGM, so you will have to test to get feedback.

learn how to use insulin. Once you learn how to use insulin, there is no reason, at all, why you can’t just continue to be a vegetarian with whatever your diet is. If someone told you that you needed to eat bacon now… they are mistaken. . I like pizza, It took a long time to control blood sugar after pizza, but I can now enjoy pizza when I want it,

Learn how to control your blood sugar: using your tools, the best you can. no one is perfect and a oddball 375 mg/dl is not going to kill you. blood sugar usually goes up faster than it comes down and everyones metabolism and chemistry is a little different. Even so, you will be an expert in 10,000 hours (about 14 months). if you can get an hba1c to below 7 without crushing lows, you are winning. if you find no way to do this, sometimes a change in tools (shots, pump, pens, CGM, AP) can help. Once you are winning, then your body will be just like if you didn’t have diabetes.

hope you have access to a CDE and a great endo. Remember THEY work for YOU. You do not have to accept that you must bend your life around diabetes therapy… rather, you can bend diabetes therapy around the life (and the diet) you want to have.

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hi and welcome.

so right now you are in a deep learning curve. there is a lot that needs to learned, and there is so much information out there. Plenty of do’s and dont’s

to add to Joe’s feedback…

Just remember one thing. you are ok and everything is going to be ok.

you can be whatever you want as a diabetic, and eat whatever you want as a diabetic. but you also need to learn how the food you choose to eat will impact your blood sugar. and that varies per person (and by what they choose to eat). you will balance your diet just like you did before you were diagnosed except that now, you will keep in mind carbs and how food or even different meals affect you.

if you are strictly vegetarian, learn your carb ratio(s), how the different type of foods affect you and go with that. What works for one person may not work for another, but it can help you learn what to expect.

I was for a very long time strictly plant-based, tried to start eating meat, went to being vegetarian and am actually in the process of going back at being strictly plant based after a long year of trying different things.

i find it so much easier than having a varied diet. Why? because your I:C ratio varies depending mostly on what you have eaten in the last 24-48 hours.

I will give myself as an example.
if I am strictly plant based my insulin to carb ratio (I:C) is 1 unit for every 15 net carb.

if I was to add animal protein (lets say fish or even greek yogurt) I have to count half of that protein as carb as well. (up to 52% of protein can be slowly transformed into glucose)

  • here, for people that do not count their protein, it may be why their I:C is so low. Unknowingly, the protein skews the ratio

now, here is another interesting tidbit.
lets say for dinner, I want to have a plain salad but with some Brie or Camembert. (two of my most favorite cheeses in the world) my ratio will be correct, but the next day or sometime even the second day following that meal, my I:C ratio will be much lower. I could go as low as 1:5. yes that is one unit per 5grams of carb.
not everyone react the same way to animal fat, but my thought is that most people do, but they just dont realize it because they eat that way most of the time so they dont see a difference.

If you eat a lot of beans and lentils, I would say count conservatively your carbs. Carbs are made out of Sugar, Fiber and Starch. Starch typically turns into sugar when being digested. However, studies have concluded that there is a type of starch that is now called, Resistant Starch that acts like fiber. it doesnt turn into sugar. It is mostly found in Beans and lentils. For Myself, I give myself between half to 2/3 of my regular dose when eating them to prevent myself from going low.

Most people do not count carbs as Net carbs when they do their insulin to carb ratio and how much they need to bolus, however I do. As being plant-based, I can eat food that has a lot of fiber and if I dont count that, I will invariably go low

I know its a lot of information. and if you were just recently diagnosed, its a lot to process. I would suggest you take your time and learn as much as you can.

My motto is knowledge is power. I love learning and when I was diagnosed I turned around and spent every free moment learning as much as I could. if you have any questions, dont hesitate.

all the best!


Joe, I always take something valuable from your responses. Very encouraging, thanks!

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