How My Diabetes Diagnosis Transformed My Relationship With Food for the Better

For a little while I kept trying to eat lighter fast-food options, like choosing grilled chicken over fried chicken, and prepared grocery store meals, but my blood sugar would remain high. I started to worry that it would never stabilize, so I decided to make changes by focusing on the things that I could control.That began with making meals for myself at home. My family is Jamaican, and we love rice, oxtail, and stews. A registered dietitian I met with soon after my diagnosis said I could only have those foods on rare occasions or not at all. The explanation? They’re “unhealthy” because they’re traditionally high in carbs, salt, and saturated fat. It was really discouraging to hear “You can never have this,” rather than being taught how to enjoy them in a different way so I didn’t feel restricted.I wanted to eat more mindfully without completely eliminating the food I love. So I started wearing a blood sugar monitor to measure my glucose levels at all times, which was a total game-changer. This allowed me to see what foods cause my blood sugar to spike quickly or remain high throughout the day.Using this data, I figured out how to modify my go-to dishes. I paid more attention to serving sizes of pasta and rice so I could still enjoy my favorite meals in moderation. I educated myself on the foods that people with type 2 diabetes should generally aim to eat more of, like tons of vegetables. Broccoli, fresh green beans, and brussels sprouts slowly became staples on my plate.Keeping things quick and simple was still really important for me, so I decided to give meal prepping a try and realized it was almost as convenient as getting fast food or takeout. After a trip to the grocery store, I used one day each week to sort, cut, and prepare my food, so I had a week’s worth of meals ready in my fridge. My now husband made the changes with me as well, and our motto was to “eat a rainbow” of colors to make sure we incorporated a variety of nutritious foods into our plan.With that, my attitude around cooking began to shift: I stopped looking at it as a chore and used it as time to relax with my husband. Whipping up meals became more fun as I experimented with different dishes—like pizza. I didn’t want to nix it from my diet completely, so I tried out different kinds of crusts made of cauliflower or even chicken. I used low-fat, part-skim cheeses instead of full-fat cheeses sometimes. I also added more veggies—spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes—to boost the fiber and flavor of my pizzas. I then moved on to family recipes, but the dishes evolved as I searched Pinterest for ideas that both my husband and I could get excited about.When I shared new dishes that I made on Facebook, my friends and family couldn’t get enough. Finally, a friend suggested I start a blog where I could keep track of the things I cooked and easily share links with anyone who was interested. That’s when Hangry Woman was born—and it eventually became my full-time job!Once I started to see the direct results—my blood sugar becoming more stable as I cooked more—I felt confident that I could successfully manage my diabetes. I have more energy, and everything just feels right. Now I know that if I stick to the balanced plan I’ve created for myself, I get the healthy blood sugar reading that I want—and I don’t feel like I have to worry about my body at all, which is so liberating.

For a little while I kept trying to eat lighter fast-food options, like choosing grilled chicken over fried chicken, and prepared grocery store meals, but my blood sugar would remain high. I started to worry that it would never stabilize, so I decided to make changes by focusing on the things that I could control.

That began with making meals for myself at home. My family is Jamaican, and we love rice, oxtail, and stews. A registered dietitian I met with soon after my diagnosis said I could only have those foods on rare occasions or not at all. The explanation? They’re “unhealthy” because they’re traditionally high in carbs, salt, and saturated fat. It was really discouraging to hear “You can never have this,” rather than being taught how to enjoy them in a different way so I didn’t feel restricted.

I wanted to eat more mindfully without completely eliminating the food I love. So I started wearing a blood sugar monitor to measure my glucose levels at all times, which was a total game-changer. This allowed me to see what foods cause my blood sugar to spike quickly or remain high throughout the day.

Using this data, I figured out how to modify my go-to dishes. I paid more attention to serving sizes of pasta and rice so I could still enjoy my favorite meals in moderation. I educated myself on the foods that people with type 2 diabetes should generally aim to eat more of, like tons of vegetables. Broccoli, fresh green beans, and brussels sprouts slowly became staples on my plate.

Keeping things quick and simple was still really important for me, so I decided to give meal prepping a try and realized it was almost as convenient as getting fast food or takeout. After a trip to the grocery store, I used one day each week to sort, cut, and prepare my food, so I had a week’s worth of meals ready in my fridge. My now husband made the changes with me as well, and our motto was to “eat a rainbow” of colors to make sure we incorporated a variety of nutritious foods into our plan.

With that, my attitude around cooking began to shift: I stopped looking at it as a chore and used it as time to relax with my husband. Whipping up meals became more fun as I experimented with different dishes—like pizza. I didn’t want to nix it from my diet completely, so I tried out different kinds of crusts made of cauliflower or even chicken. I used low-fat, part-skim cheeses instead of full-fat cheeses sometimes. I also added more veggies—spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes—to boost the fiber and flavor of my pizzas. I then moved on to family recipes, but the dishes evolved as I searched Pinterest for ideas that both my husband and I could get excited about.

When I shared new dishes that I made on Facebook, my friends and family couldn’t get enough. Finally, a friend suggested I start a blog where I could keep track of the things I cooked and easily share links with anyone who was interested. That’s when Hangry Woman was born—and it eventually became my full-time job!

Once I started to see the direct results—my blood sugar becoming more stable as I cooked more—I felt confident that I could successfully manage my diabetes. I have more energy, and everything just feels right. Now I know that if I stick to the balanced plan I’ve created for myself, I get the healthy blood sugar reading that I want—and I don’t feel like I have to worry about my body at all, which is so liberating.

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